Kenyan suspect identified in Manda Bay airfield attack

NAIROBI, Kenya (Caasimada Online) – Kenya’s national security is once again in the spotlight after Al-Shabab militants identified a Kenyan who participated in planning and executing the Manda Bay Airbase attack on January 5, 2020.  

The brazen attack, which Al-Shabab militants carried out, resulted in the deaths of three Americans and the destruction of several aircraft stationed at the base.  

In a recent video posted by Al-Shabab, a Kenyan national was identified as one of the attackers in the Manda Bay Airfield attack on January 5, 2020.  

The attack on Manda Bay airfield

The Manda Bay Airfield is a small military base located on the coast of Kenya, close to the border with Somalia. 

US and Kenyan forces primarily use it as a staging ground for counter-terrorism operations in the region.  

On the morning of January 5, 2020, a group of Al-Shabaab militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns attacked the base. 

They breached the perimeter fence and engaged US and Kenyan forces in a prolonged firefight for several hours.  

The militants destroyed several aircraft, including a US surveillance plane, before being repelled by US and Kenyan forces.

Identifying the attacker 

In a recent video posted by Al-Shabab, Ramadan Mwani alias Abdulhaq Al-Muhajir was identified as a suicide bomber who attacked Barire on April 3, 2021. 

The video claims that he was also one of the attackers in the Manda Bay Airfield attack. Mwani has been instrumental in instigating Al-Shabab attacks across Kenya and the region.  

The video shows Mwani and fellow Manda Bay attackers Ahmed Al-Muhajir of Yemen and Qudama Al-Muhajir of Ethiopia.  

The group is known for releasing such videos and photographic evidence while emphasizing the claim that it has recruited from across the region.

The militants have previously recruited fighters from Kenya, leading to sustained attacks in the East African nation.

This has since heightened surveillance along the country’s borders to curb the group from infiltration. Despite this, the group manages to wage sophisticated retaliatory attacks along the border. 

The aftermath of the attack  

The attack on the Manda Bay Airfield was a significant blow to the US military’s presence in the region. 

It highlighted the vulnerability of US forces in Kenya and the ongoing threat Al-Shabaab poses in the region.  

Following the attack, the US government heightened its surveillance and counter-terrorism efforts in the region, particularly in Somalia.  

The attack also had political consequences, triggering a sharp change in US policy on defense in foreign countries. 

In the weeks following the attack, the US government announced plans to withdraw hundreds of troops from West Africa and reduce its military presence in the Middle East.

Al-Shabab’s presence in the region

Al-Shabab is a Somali-based militant group active in the region for over a decade. The group is known for attacking civilian and military targets in Kenya and Somalia.

Its links to Al-Qaeda have made it a significant security threat to the region.  

Al-Shabab’s attempts to penetrate Ethiopia were thwarted last year when the militants crossed temporarily through Dolow, leading to an operation by Ethiopia that left hundreds of them dead. 

Ethiopia and Kenya contributed soldiers to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], thus triggering Al-Shabab’s fury.