Targeting non-combatants is unethical – always! There’s no excuse for it! Taking hostages in a mall and executing them is despicable!
But let’s not gloss over some inconvenient facts.
Somalia is a country that has been torn by civil war since 1991, when
The government became increasingly totalitarian, and resistance movements, encouraged by Ethiopia’s communist Derg administration, sprang up across the country. This eventually led in 1991 to the outbreak of the civil war, the toppling of Barre’s regime and the disbandment of the Somali National Army (SNA). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somali_Civil_War
A civil war that the Islamic Court Union was about to win:
The Advance of the Islamic Courts Union is the period in the Somali Civil War that began on May 2006 with the Islamic Courts Union’s (ICU) conquest of Mogadishu from the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) and continued with further ICU expansion in the country. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_of_the_Islamic_Courts_Union)
A win that might have brought stability to Somalia for the first time in a while – you know, stability, what our governments value so much in Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt etc. Stability under a nasty regime, one that implemented Sharia law in the areas it conquered, like the Taliban did in Afghanistan when they decided the civil war there for themselves.
This development lasted until Ethiopian Troops with air support from the US intervened to drive them back:
The Transitional Federal Government sought to reestablish its authority, and, with the assistance of Ethiopian troops, African Union peacekeepers and air support by the United States, managed to drive out the rival ICU and solidify its rule. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalia#Islamic_Courts_Union_and_Ethiopian_intervention)
Following this, the ICU splintered, with one of the splinter groups being Al-Shabaab. Kenya also got into the mix attacking Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia:
On 16 October, an unnamed Somali military commander said that Kenyan troops had crossed the border and, in a joint operation with Somalian forces, pushed Al Shabaab out of two bases near the Kenya border. Abdi Yusuf, a senior Somali military commander, confirmed that two warplanes had attacked Al Shabaab bases, but did not confirm their origin. He noted: “I can’t identify the military aircraft, but our neighbour Kenya is fully supporting us militarily and our mission is to drive Al-Shabaab out of the region”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Linda_Nchi)
And now Kenyan non-combatants were executed by Al-Shabaab fighters in a mall in Nairobi…this didn’t happen in a vacuum.
Awaiting Stratfor’s analysis.