The recent increase in attacks by al-Shabaab in northern Kenya has raised concern that the Somali terror group may be weakened but is not yet defeated and is still working hard to raise its profile in global jihadi circles.
Historically, al-Shabaab’s attacks tend to increase in the period between December and February. The group, which is an affiliate of al-Qaeda, also times its attacks to coincide with anniversaries of previous successful attacks or the start of Ethiopia’s military campaign against them towards the end of 2006.
The numbers, however, show that there has been a slight increase in attacks compared with previous years. Since the start of December last year, at least 21 people have been killed, mostly in northern Kenya and Lamu, similar to the number of casualties in the Dusit attack in Nairobi whose first anniversary will be this week.
But what is raising eyebrows is the apparent shift in strategy by the group on how it is picking its targets and the number of times the government has been caught flat-footed.