, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 21 – The United States African Command (AFRICOM) says it is increasingly concerned by the terror threats being issued to East African nations by the Al Shabaab network.
US AFRICOM Commander Gen William Ward said his government will intensify surveillance on the Somali based radical group and others allied to the Al Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden.
“The threats are also in the Sahel with what goes on there with the Al Qaeda. But threats are more than just from those groups as well because there are other linkages that could be there,” he said citing other challenges that weigh in such as drug trafficking.
Addressing a press conference at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Gen Ward said AFRICOM is “paying attention to terrorism and terror threats…to prevent them from having an ability to create sanctuary to operate without being checked and doing that in ways that…causes the counterterrorism efforts to be successful.”
Gen Ward’s visit to the continent which kicked off on Friday is part US efforts to coordinate and improve activities in support of military relations with African countries and organisations.
Though he commended Kenya for its efforts in maintaining security and fighting terrorism in the region, Gen Ward said a lot more needed to be done.
“The job is not over,” he emphasised.
General Ward said Africom’s other major concerns at the moment include the crisis in Somalia and piracy on the Indian Ocean which he described as a global security challenge.
AFRICOM as currently constituted has been training peacekeeping mission forces in Somalia and provides logistic support to AMISOM- the African Union’s mission in Somalia.
“We will certainly continue to (support the African Union troops) as the numbers of AMISOM forces continue to rise,” he added.
Currently, Gen Ward said, there are about 5000 AMISOM forces in Somalia.