Al Shabaab Targets UAE for the First Time

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On June 24, al Shabaab fighters killed a number of people in a suicide car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, targeting officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Somali officials say that three Somalis were killed and seven were wounded, but no UAE citizens were hurt.

Al Shabaab was targeting a convoy consisting of the UAE ambassador, Emirati military trainers, and aid workers. A separate military convoy from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was also in the vicinity of the attack.

Al Shabaab is an Al Qaeda-affiliated group operating in Somalia and the surrounding countries. Its immediate goal is to install an Islamist regime in Somalia, but its links to Al Qaeda and its calls for attacks in the US show that the organization also has a global focus.

The attack on June 24 marks the first time that al Shabaab has targeted the UAE. The Somali government has received a great deal of military aid from UAE in the form of vehicles and equipment as well as military training. The support is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and the UAE aims to rebuild the Somali military and public infrastructure in an effort to restore stability to the country.

In addition to directly providing equipment and training to Somalia, the UAE is working with other countries fighting against Al Shabaab. Kenya, which has come under attack by Al Shabaab a number of times, is partnering with the UAE through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide humanitarian and governmental support to Somalia.

The UAE has a working relationship with the US, and the two have teamed up to fight against Islamist terrorism movements, including Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and Al Shabaab. Although it is an Islamic nation in the Arabian Peninsula, its partnership with the US opens it up as a target for the terrorist group. Al Shabaab has clearly demonstrated a commitment to attacking Somali targets and Western targets, and has previously asked its sympathizers in the West to carry out attacks at home against Western targets and partners. Countries and NGOs that provide either direct or indirect support to the Somali army should anticipate an attack.

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