International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Al-Shabaab Gunmen Attack Christians at Kenyan University

Early this morning, Islamist gunmen associated with Al-Shabaab, a Somali group dedicated to turning Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, attacked Christians at Garissa University College. 70 have been reported killed and many others have been taken hostage. As far as Al-Shabaab goes, the group taking responsibility for the attack, the group is labeled as an international terrorist organization that has been blamed for several attacks in Somalia killing international aid workers, journalists, members of civil society, and AU peacekeepers. It also has committed acts of terrorism abroad, claiming responsibility for the Kampala, Uganda bombings in 2010.


President Kenyatta, a controversial figure by his own right, has called for the inspector-general of police “to take urgent steps” to ensure a boost in security personnel, noting that the nation is in dire need of more officers.

According to witnesses, the gunmen separated students according to their religion. Muslim students were allowed to leave, while Christian students were held hostage. Such religious targeting calls into mind the terror that Boko Haram, a militant Muslim group in Nigeria, has been reaping on Christians in the nation. Boko Haram is also committed to overthrowing the Nigerian government in order to replace it with an Islamic State. ISIS, an extremist militant Islamic movement, also has its stated aim of expanding its caliphate in the name of fundamental Islam. Such terrorist groups all seem to have in mind the goal of overthrowing existing order and replacing it with fundamental Islamic States. Given the sensitive nature of such conflicts revolving around religious difference, it will be interesting to see the role taken by the West and the United States in combating such terrorist organizations. Moreover, such conflicts bring to the forefront the issue of classifying violence that is targeted against groups because of their religion. Can such killings constitute a form of genocide? Is the international community compelled to act against such crimes as human rights violations?

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2 responses to “Al-Shabaab Gunmen Attack Christians at Kenyan University

  1. snech April 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Over 500 students are unaccounted for, but the total number of hostages remains unknown. Of the hostages, Al-Shabab is separating Muslims from Christians. So far 15 Muslim hostages have been freed. The Kenyan government has named Mohamed Kuno as the mastermind and placed a bounty of $217,000 on him. Kuno was a headmaster at an Islamic school in Garissa. He is now a high-ranking al-Shabab official. More information will be likely be released as it is found.

  2. tcheng2015 April 5, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    The term genocide was defined after the atrocities in World War II as violence against members of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. The Al-Shabaab attack on Christian students at Garissa University College is an outright act of genocide. Recent interviews with survivors of the massacre described the scene of the horrendous massacre. An individual separated Muslim students from Christian students and those who claimed to be Muslim were questioned about the Qaran Students who passed the test were free to live while those who did not answer successfully were shot at gunpoint. Although the size and quantity of the conflict cannot compare to the World War II Nazi genocide against the Jews, it was certainly an attempt to cleanse the population of Christian believers.

    The international community should unquestionably seek to act against these atrocious human rights violations. Kenya’s extremely unstable political situation means it is unlikely that local militant and political forces will succeed in providing truth and justice at a local level. Without the help of international actors, human rights violation will continue to grow in politically unstable regions.

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