President Obama’s Visit To Father’s Birth Country Could Be ‘Target For Terrorists’
Ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenyan capital Nairobi on Friday, the African country will close its airspace for 50 minutes.
Obama’s three-day visit will also see a ban on planes flying below 20,000 feet, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said.
However, KCAA met with criticism by U.S. media for disclosing Obama’s travel plans. A travel warning had been issued for Kenya ahead of Obama’s visit.
Obama is traveling to Kenya this weekend to address the global entrepreneurship summit, where he will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and address civil society leaders. Obama’s trip will, by and large, be restricted to the Kenyan capital.
On Sunday, he will be traveling to Ethiopia.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said that the summit could provide “a target for terrorists.” The U.S. had conducted several airstrikes last week in Somalia against al Qaeda’s African affiliate, al-Shabaab, because the U.S. intelligence had indicated an impending terror strike against the Kenyan troops, defense officials said.
There is a worrying possibility that the strikes may be planned for Obama’s visit.
Seth Jones, a Rand Corporation analyst, said, “This sends a very clear message to al-Shabaab not to try to attempt anything against the President.”
Safety and security concerns will prevent Obama from visiting Kogelo, a village in western Kenya where his father was born and where his stepgrandmother and family members live.
As reported by CNN, the militant group may look to target certain areas to divert attention from Obama’s visit.
“What’s most likely is not an attack against a U.S. government official like the President, but an attack that happens while the President is there,” Jones said. “Security for the president is likely to be very significant and that means what al-Shabaab is likely to do, based on what it has done very recently, is go for a soft target.”
In the past, the group has targeted shopping malls and schools.
Obama’s visit has caught the attention of the militant group – social media and the Internet is alight with the news about the president’s trip.
“They all know he is coming,” an official said.
As reported by BBC, al-Shabaab has been responsible for several terror attacks in Kenya in the recent years. In 2013, the group killed 67 people in an attack on the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi. This year, 148 people were killed when the group attacked a university in the north.
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