Key signs that Al Qaeda's Islamic extremism is moving into southern Africa
But 14 years before this latest unrest in Zanzibar, Tanzania took center stage, after a deadly bombing attack at the US embassy in Tanzania’s biggest city, Dar es-Salaam, with all fingers pointing to Al Qaeda militants. This event, along with the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, brought names like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri into the public sphere for the first time.
Then-President Clinton responded by launching cruise missiles at Al Qaeda bases in Sudan and Afghanistan. Despite the participation of local East Africans in the attacks, little concrete measures were taken to curb radicalization in the region.
By May 2012, the global jihad network would rear its ugly head in Tanzania once more, after a bombing attack occurred in the Kenyan capital, targeting a prominent shopping district. While blame was placed squarely on Somalia’s Al Shabaab Islamist group, the arrest of a German national in Tanzania in connection to the attack largely went unnoticed. The man, reportedly of Turkish descent, had undergone training in Al Qaeda camps in Pakistan.
While the Tanzanian link in the global-jihad chain failed yet again to ring alarm bells, deteriorating domestic conditions may open the floodgates for a homegrown wave of extremism.