Terrorist organizations unleashed horrifying violence thousands of miles apart over the weekend, with Taliban suicide-bombers blowing themselves up in a Christian church in Pakistan and al-Shabab terrorists assaulting a mall in Kenya.
Al-Shabab said it attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi as a form of punishment for Kenya’s invasion of Somalia in 2011 to fight al-Shabab. The terrorist group chose to attack the mall to inflict the most grief possible on Kenya and to get the greatest attention possible. They accomplished both, killing at least 69 people, wounding 175, and severely damaging Kenya’s promising tourism industry.
Al-Shabab, despite internal problems and setbacks on the ground in Somalia, has ties to al-Qaida and demonstrated over the weekend that it remains a potent force.
The Jundullah arm of the Taliban, two of whose members blew themselves up in the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, also is capable of great harm. The death toll there is 81 and rising, with another 141 wounded. The Taliban’s motivation differed from al-Shabab’s. Ahmad Marwat, a representative of the Jundullah branch of the Taliban in Pakistan, said, “All non-Muslims in Pakistan are our target, and they will remain our target as long as America fails to stop drone strikes in our country.”
Jundullah, however, has shown a willingness to kill Muslims, earlier having claimed responsibility for violence against Shiite Muslims in Baluchistan province.
Though speaking about the attack in his country, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, summed up the attacks in both countries well. “The terrorists have no religion, and targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and all religions. Such cruel acts of terrorism reflect the brutality and inhumane mindset of terrorists.”
As for U.S. drone attacks, Pakistan publicly criticizes them but is believed to support those drone attacks that target Taliban militants at war with the government.
Although the weekend attacks took place far from U.S. shores, complacency here would only bring the next bombing in this country closer. These attacks — one on an upscale shopping mall and the other in a church — ought to remind Americans who have forgotten the Boston Marathon bombing that there is no such thing as an absolutely safe place.
The response — here, in Kenya and Pakistan — isn’t to hide or meet terrorists’ demands. It’s to fight back and prevail, however long it takes.