Senior administration officials today said that there are indications that the claim of responsibility by al Shabaab for the Uganda bombings over the weekend are real.
“At this point there are indications that al Shabaab was indeed responsible for it, and that its claim of responsibly is real,” a senior administration official said this evening.
On Sunday, 64 people were killed in the two blasts that tore through outdoor gatherings in the Ugandan capital Kampala of where hundreds of soccer fans were in the midst of watching the World Cup final.
Al Shabeeb in Sunday claimed responsibility for the attacks.
"We will carry out attacks against our enemy wherever they are," Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage speaking from Mogadishu told The Associated Press.
Administration officials said they were not given any advanced warning that the attacks would happen in Uganda, but the group was very much on their radar screen.
“al Shabaab leaders have made public threats against outside interest, including Western interests. There has been overtime reporting that indicates that al Shabaab, because of its association with al –Qaeda may be planning attacks at different locations.”
The administration official said they have been focused on al Shabaab “for quite some time.”
“It’s history is a bloody one and it is dedicated to the perpetration of violence in order to achieve it ends,” an administration official says adding that they refer to it as a duel persona, “in one respect they are engaged in a domestic fight in order to advance their political agenda, but they do use terrorist tactics and exceptionally violent means in order to advance their agenda in Somalia.”
The administration official stresses that there are a number of individuals within al Shabaab that have “close links” with al-Qaeda and the links between the organizations have existed for quite some time.
“Its agenda is very similar to al-Qaeda’s agenda, it advanced a distorted and perverted sort-of version of Islamic goals and agenda, it has engaged in terrorist tactics inside of Somalia extensively, it is responsible for the assassination of a number of peace activist, international aid workers, numerous civil society figures as well as journalists.”
This relationship and link concerns them.
“We are concerned of what we have seen of al Shaabab contacts and interactions with al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, as well as its more traditional contacts and associations with elements of al-Qaeda in East Africa. And there is somewhat of a blending together of these individuals who are at the top of these organizations and unfortunately I think they are bringing along with them some of the young Somalis and others who are engaged in these local conflicts but are brought into the al-Qaeda orbit.”
They are looking to see if this is going to be a “trend” that al Shabbab will be on, adding that there is concern that the group “might be trying to carry out similar types of attacks, or other attacks in other venues.”
They would not answer directly if they believe that there is a specific threat within the United States.
President Obama has reached out to President Museveni, offering support and all assistance” and the FBI has sent a team to help with the crime scenes.
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller