US forces targeting militants in Kenya, former general says

American forces in Africa are likely drafting target lists for possible strikes against al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups tied to Sunday's deadly attack in Nairobi, a former U.S. general said Sunday.


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"They're developing targets . . . and refining target lists, trying to fill in any gaps that we possibly have" on potential locations of al Shabaab strongholds in Kenya and elsewhere on the African continent, former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said Sunday.

Al Shabaab, the Somali-based terror group with ties to al Qaeda's Africa cell, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), claimed responsibility for Sunday's bloody attack on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital.

"Intelligence has been gathered and will continue to be gathered to fill in any holes that we have about what happened in this particular attack and what could happen in the future," the former four-star general said during an interview on ABC's "This Week."

Chiarelli declined to comment specifically on what means U.S. and partner forces may be using to target the group's main outposts in Kenya.

That said, command officials are "doing all of the kinds of things that you would do to gain information in . . . what is a very chaotic situation," according to Chiarelli.

On Sunday, President Obama called Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to express his condolences in the aftermath of the Nairobi attack.

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At least 59 people were killed and 175 people injured in the attack, according to recent reports. Kenyan forces continue to battle with al Shabaab militants still inside the massive shopping complex, reports state.

Sunday's violence underscores the growing problem Islamic fundamentalist in Africa are posing to U.S. allies in the region.

Al Shabaab and the Nigerian-based terror group Boko Haram have steadily increased their ties with AQIM in recent years.

Those affiliations have resulted in the al Qaeda cell evolving into one of the organization's most dangerous factions, second only to al Qaeda's Yemeni cell, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In June, the State Department offered a $7 million for information on the location of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.

However, U.S. military and intelligence officials are still having significant difficulty gaining any insight into groups like al Shabab and Boko Haram.

The relatively small network of intelligence assets Washington currently has in place in Africa pales in comparison to the number of similar American assets in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the Mideast.

But the resulting blow back from the Mideast counterterror campaign has manifested itself with the rise of al Qaeda factions gaining control of wide swaths of territory in North and Western Africa.