On October 17, 2017, al-Shabaab set a truck bomb in the Zoobe intersection in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu “killing 358 people and injuring more than 400 people,” according to CNN. For perspective, the deadliest terrorist attack in Somalia is equal to wiping out the entire Boys’ Latin upper, middle, and lower school along with faculty.
Officials say that the attack involved two vehicles, a Toyota Noah minivan and a larger truck that carried around 350 kg (771.618 pounds) of military grade homemade explosives. The original intent was to destroy a compound and kill whoever was near or inside of it.
Investigators and international agencies suspect that the bombers plan for the attack was to use the minivan to blow open the gates of an airport, then drive a larger truck into the compound towards a housing complex that held international troops and agencies to carry out an attack.
The first plan failed as someone reported a suspicious vehicle, and the minivan was then detonated either by armed forces or someone else with no one injured. Later on, the truck carrying the 350 kg of explosives detonated in the center of Mogadishu’s main intersection.
The attack itself devastated and completely left Somalia in awe with hundreds of vendor stalls destroyed and dozens of buildings obliterated to rubble.
Yet, one might wonder what would drive someone to carry out such a devastating attack. The bomber, who has not been identified, was a former Somalian armed serviceman which left many confused as to why someone who served his nation would commit such a heinous attack.
Investigators suspect the motive for the attack was in retaliation for a controversial joint raid by US and Somali forces in the bomber’s hometown that left 10 innocent civilians dead. Among the dead were three children, six men, and one woman reported by Aljazeera, who were lined up and then shot in what has been described as merciless.
The retaliatory aspect of this attack makes many question the use of US forces in foreign countries and affairs after this attack and coming off the heels of the ambush attack that left four American Green Berets dead in Niger on October 4th.
Despite this tragedy, social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram didn’t take off with hashtags such as “WeAreMogadishu” or “PrayersforMogadishu.” Instead, hashtags such as “X-factor” became number one on the trending charts and not news about the attack.
Many are also asking why this attack wasn’t as publicized as much as the Manchester bombing despite the fact that two US citizens were killed in the attack. The overall attack raises more questions about the global community response as it seems like the world community didn’t care about the traumatic events.
Quartz newspaper called this attack a “defining moment,” not just for Somalia, but the world in general as terrorism has shifted into large-scale attacks such as this. Quartz newspaper even reported about the experiences of the people including a soldier named Ibrahim Adow who worked as a protocol officer for Somalia’s president. Adow said, “’He hasn’t slept or eaten much, and anger has been welling up inside him,’” days after the attack.
The sheer gruesomeness of the attack and the aftermath it has left not only has devastated Somalia but has put a new face on terrorism.