The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned of an imminent Al-Shabaab attack targeting Kenyan government security forces, civilians, and Western interests in Kenya.
In a statement, US through FAA says that the attacks could also target joint civil-military airfields, primarily near Kenya’s Eastern border with Somalia and in the Coastal region of Kenya adjacent to Somalia.
Consequently, FAA has warned US civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the territory and airspace of Kenya at altitudes below FL260 East of 40 degrees East longitude.
“The January 5, 2020, complex attack on Camp Simba, which is co-located with Manda Bay Airport (HKLU), destroyed or damaged multiple aircraft, demonstrating the group’s intent and capabilities to target the aviation sector. Al-Shabaab possesses, or has access to, a variety of weapons, including small arms; indirect fire weapons, such as mortars and rockets; and anti-aircraft-capable weapons, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS),” the statement read in part.
“Such weapons present a risk to civil aircraft operating at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight and/or to airports and aircraft on the ground, especially at remote airfields located east of 40 degrees east longitude. Some MANPADS have the capability to reach a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet,” added FAA.
Al-Shabaab has publicly declared their intent to conduct attacks in retaliation for Kenya’s counterterrorism operations in Somalia, which Kenya conducts as part of the African Union mission.
FAA says that Al-Shabaab may be emboldened following the announced U.S. withdrawal of forces from Somalia.
Al-Shabaab has conducted multiple attacks targeting civil aviation, including indirect fire attacks on Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM) and remote airfields where international troops are collocated.
“These attacks demonstrate capabilities al-Shabaab could further employ in the Kenya-Somalia border region and the coastal region of Kenya adjacent to Somalia. Despite Kenya’s efforts to improve its security, al-Shabaab continues to plot high-profile attacks in Kenya, as demonstrated by the January 2019 attack on the DusitD2 compound and the 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall,” adds FAA.
Former US President Donald Trump last December ordered the withdrawal of an estimated 700 American troops from Somalia by January 15, 2021, with the Pentagon saying they would be repositioned to other parts of East Africa — likely Kenya and Djibouti.