May 28, 2024

U.S. warned terrorists were planning to attack Nigeria and South Africa but they bombed Somalia and killed over 100 people

The United States government warned on October 26 that terrorists may be planning to attack Johannesburg in South Africa on October 29. The government also announced on October 24 that there was an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja, and that the U.S. Embassy will offer reduced services until further notice. 

In South Africa, the U.S. Embassy released a security alert that said, “The U.S. government has received information that terrorists may be planning to conduct an attack targeting large gatherings of people at an unspecified location in the greater Sandton area of Johannesburg, South Africa, on 29 October 2022. There is no further information regarding the timing, method, or target of the potential attack.”

The U.S. Embassy advised staff to avoid crowds of people and other large public gatherings in the greater Sandton area of Johannesburg during the weekend of 29-30 October 2022.

In Nigeria, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja said “Targets may include, but are not limited to, government buildings, places of worship, schools, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, and international organizations.”

The State Department also commented on the possible terror attack in Nigeria during a press briefing in Washington D.C. on October 26.

“There’s not much that I can say beyond what the embassy has released publicly,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said when asked to provide further assessment of the risk. “And yesterday, Mission Nigeria distributed and posted online a security alert stating that there is, quote, “an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja.” 

“The embassy there will offer reduced services until further notice. We take our responsibility when it comes to providing timely, accurate information to the American citizen community there and everywhere around the world very seriously. We take seriously our commitment to have no double standard when there is information available to us. In this case, we provided timely notification of the security alert and the fact that the embassy will be offering reduced services for the time being,” Price said. 

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja urged Americans to avoid all non-essential travel or movement, stay alert and avoid crowds. They should also carry proper identification and review their personal security plans and keep their cell phones charged in case of an emergency.

Despite those security alerts, the bomb attacks the U.S. warned may take place in South Africa on October 29 occurred in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu that same day, killing over 100 people and wounding more than 300 others. Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that at least 100 people were killed and more than 300 others were wounded by the two car bombs in Mogadishu.

He said that the people who were massacred “included mothers with their children in their arms, fathers who had medical conditions, students who were sent to study, businessmen who were struggling with the lives of their families.” It was the deadliest attacks to rock Somalia since 2017 when a truck bomb killed over 500 people at the same location.

In Washington, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan condemned the attacks on behalf of the United States.

“The United States strongly condemns yesterday’s tragic terrorist attack in Mogadishu that killed an estimated 100 people and wounded approximately 300 more, and in particular its heinous targeting of the Somali Ministry of Education and first responders,” he said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the Somali people and to all those who lost loved ones or were injured by these unconscionable attacks against innocent civilians.”

Sullivan added that “the United States remains committed to supporting the Federal Government of Somalia in its fight to prevent such callous terrorist acts.”

Sullivan did not mention what appears to be bungled intelligence, the fact that terrorist attacks that were to occur in the Horn of Africa were believed would take place in Southern and Western Africa.

The U.S. is considered to have the most extensive and sophisticated intelligence network of any nation in the world, with organizations including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, amongst others.

The CIA is responsible for coordinating U.S. counterintelligence activities abroad, although each military department also has a counterintelligence element that operates domestically and overseas.

Following the bomb attacks in Somalia’s capital, many are wondering whether the CIA, the NSA or other US intelligence agencies missed it again, especially after missing the attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC last year.

With ballooning budgets, American intelligence agencies have repeatedly missed opportunities, including those occurring right in front of them, the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

At a press briefing on Friday, October 28, Ned Price was asked to comment on both security alerts and on the concern raised by South Africa on a lack of communication from the U.S. side.

“To what extent has the United States been in touch with these two countries about the security situation? To what extent do you believe that they have the situation under control?” the reporter asked.

Price said that the United States no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens around the world.

He said, “When it comes to the question you raised about Nigeria and South Africa, of course we have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens around the world.

“That, of course, includes individuals, Americans, who are working in our embassies, in missions around the world. We also have a responsibility to the American citizen community around the world that we provide them with timely notification when we have information available to us regarding a potential threat. We take the – our obligation to the so-called “no double standard” extraordinarily seriously. So in that vein, when we are in possession of information regarding a potential threat, we do provide it to American personnel. We take steps – prudent steps to mitigate the threat, but also to inform the public.

“And with that in mind, effective October 27th, our embassy in Abuja went on ordered departure status for eligible family members. The authorized departure status remains in place as of now for non-emergency U.S. direct hires in Abuja. We made that decision to recommend ordered departure for EFMs in Abuja out of an abundance of caution – as we said before – related to an elevated risk of terrorist – of terror attacks in Nigeria. And we’ve put out attendant messaging to the American citizen community.

“We do cooperate closely with countries around the world – certainly close partners like South Africa, like Nigeria – on shared security concerns. And any potential threat in either country could well pose a shared threat to our interests as well. We’ve been in close contact with Nigerian authorities. We appreciate the effort of our Nigerian partners to address security threats in Abuja and across the country. The same is true of our relationship with South Africa. We have a close relationship with our South African partners, and we deeply appreciate efforts that they make to protect their interests, and in turn, our interests in the country as well.”

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