In an interview earlier today with the South African Broadcasting Corporation to air in a few hours, President Obama disparaged al Qaeda and affiliated groups' willingness to kill Africans in a manner that White House aides say was an argument that the terrorist groups are racist.
Speaking about the Uganda bombings, the president said, "What you've seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself. They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains."
Earlier today a senior administration official said the Obama administration believes that Al Shabaab carried out the attack.
Explaining the president's comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama "references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda — and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire — do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets."
This can be seen, the official said, in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, when hundreds of Africans were killed and thousands wounded.
"Additionally, U.S. intelligence has indicated that al Qaeda leadership specifically targets and recruits black Africans to become suicide bombers because they believe that poor economic and social conditions make them more susceptible to recruitment than Arabs," the official said. "Al Qaeda recruits have said that al Qaeda is racist against black members from West Africa because they are only used in lower level operations."
"In short," the official said, "al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life."
The president also said in the interview that "it was so tragic and ironic to see an explosion like this take place when people in Africa were celebrating and watching the World Cup take place in South Africa. On the one hand, you have a vision of an Africa on the move, an Africa that is unified, an Africa that is modernizing and creating opportunities; and on the other hand, you've got a vision of al Qaeda and Al Shabaab that is about destruction and death.
"And I think it presents a pretty clear contrast in terms of the future that most Africans want for themselves and their children," Mr. Obama said. "And we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support those who want to build, as opposed to want to destroy."
– Jake Tapper