Al-Shabaab declares Kenya massacre part of Islamic war on Christians

by Gregory Tomlin |

((FILE) REUTERS/Omar Faruk)Pro Al-Shabaab demonstrators hold copies of the Koran at southern Mogadishu's main stadium in Somalia, Sept. 15, 2010, during a protest against plans to burn the Islamic holy book by obscure U.S. Pastor Terry Jones, which he later abandoned, to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the United States.

NAIROBI, Kenya (Christian Examiner) -- During the past three years, more than 400 Kenyans have died at the hands of Al-Shabaab terrorists – most of them Christian. But in the United States the attack has been described by the Obama Administration largely as a criminal act and not as an effort within the larger framework of Islamic jihad in the horn of Africa.

Now, Islamic militants from the Sunni Al-Shabaab terrorist group have released a lengthy statement about how the group carried out its attack on Garissa University in eastern Kenya April 2 stating specifically "the attack targeted only non-Muslims," adding that "all Muslims were allowed to safely evacuate," including Shias, before "executing of the disbelievers."

"The Muslim blood is inviolable whereas the blood of a Kafir (disbeliever) has no protection except by Eeman (belief) or Aman (covenant of security)," the statment reads.

The statement, released two days after the attack which claimed at least 147 lives, confirmed the accounts of survivors that students murdered at the school were singled out because they were Christians. Many students are still unaccounted for and have not contacted their families.

In 2011, Al-Shabaab militants based in Somalia bled across the border into eastern Kenya to conduct strikes against Kenyan forces and Christian churches in lands they believe historically belonged to Muslims. Kenya and other East African nations, such as Ethiopia, responded by sending troops to combat the Islamist insurgency in the country's coastal region and on the border with Somalia, where most Kenyan Muslims live.

Al-Shabaab lays the blame for rising tensions at the feet of the Kenyan government.

Leaders of the Islamic terrorist group said in their statement Muslims had been "stripped of all their dignity and subjected to the most inhumane treatment for failing to succumb to the subjugation of the disbelievers. Following such widespread persecution against Islam and the Muslims, it became incumbent upon Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen to retaliate on behalf of their Muslim brothers and, in a series of attacks, avenge the deaths of thousands of Muslims killed at the hands of Kenyan security forces."

"Do not dream of security in your lands until security becomes a reality in the Muslims lands, including the North Eastern Province and the Coast and until all your forces withdraw from all Muslim lands," the statement said.

"We will, by the permission of Allah, stop at nothing to avenge the deaths of our Muslim brothers until your government ceases its oppression and until all Muslim lands are liberated from Kenyan occupation. And until then, Kenyan cities will run red with blood. And like we said, this will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties."

The group has found a favorable recruiting ground in cities like Mombasa and Mandera, where disaffected Muslims believe they suffer neglect and discrimination at the hands of what they regard as a the Christian government in Nairobi.