In a terrible final note to the first African World Cup games, two coordinated suicide bombings in the Ugandan capital of Kampala killed more than 70 Ugandans and foreigners on July 11 as they were watching the championship game of the World Cup at a restaurant and a rugby club.
A spokesman for the terror group, Ali Mohamud Rage, said “Al-Shabab was behind the two bomb blasts in Uganda.”
On learning of the Kampala carnage, an al-Shabab spokesperson praised all those who seek salvation with a suicide vest. “This is the work of the mujahedin. We are happy with the guys who did that, God will reward them.” Al-Shabab has repeatedly said it considers soccer and sports in general “a satanic act.”
The Kampala terror was also directed against the Ugandan government of President Museveni, a supporter of stability and non-extremists solutions for Somalia.
The Kampala atrocity comes at a time when the Obama Administration hopes to to play down the religious and cultural dimensions of the clash between Islamist extremists and the West. Events such as yesterday’s Kampala bombings are a stark reminder that religious intolerance and fanatical hatred remain powerful motivators that drive international terrorism either in Afghanistan or eastern Africa.
The Kampala bombings also highlight complex and worrisome developments directed at U.S. friends in East Africa, from Kampala to Nairobi and Addis Ababa, where radical de-stabilizers like al-Shabab and the Lord’s Resistance Army aim, through acts of terror, to carve out greater geographical space for their brands of extremism to flourish.
Sadly, the U.S. adds another American citizen to its growing roll of victims of international terrorism. Nate Henn, a recent graduate of the University of Delaware and a sports enthusiast, was in Uganda to build—rather than destroy—by helping children scarred by conflict and genocide.
The Kampala bombings reflects the brutal realities of the global war against terror and the unchanging responsibilities of the White House to protect American lives, advance U.S. interests, and assist allies in a violent, polarized world.