Thomas C. Mountain, an independent journalist based in Eritrea, discusses the history of al-Shabaab and the context of the Nairobi mall siege; why al-Shabaab has become a mercenary army; Kenya’s blowback from repeated military incursions in Somalia; the Saudi royal family’s financial backing for Wahhabi groups including al-Shabaab; and the lack of news on mass starvation and refugees in the Horn of Africa.

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