The deadliest terror attack in Africa’s history began with a loaded truck barreling down a busy street in Somalia’s capital, seemingly bound for the international airport and the embassies sheltering there.
The truck instead detonated in Mogadishu traffic, killing well over 500 people. Somalis who had witnessed decades of chaos were horrified. In a rare protest, they marched by the thousands to defy the Islamic extremist group that is now the deadliest in sub-Saharan Africa, the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab.
On Oct. 14, Somalia marks the anniversary of the bombing. Many around the world barely took note of the attack, though it was easily one of the worst since 9/11.
Anyone with interest in the spread of extremism, however, should read the new book “Inside al-Shabaab: The Secret History of al-Qaeda’s Most Powerful Ally.”
Imagine, it says, a Washington where the U.S. government controls the White House, a few adjacent buildings and the highway to the airport while insurgents hold the rest. “Every so often, the insurgents fire mortar shells toward the White House.” This has been Mogadishu over the years as the extremists, some of them raised in the United States, surge and retreat.