ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reported Monday, Sep. 23 on Good Morning America that one reason the White House is following the terrorists’ attack on the mall in Kenya so closely is the “potential tie to people here in the United States.” Republican Rep. Peter King from New York suggests “It’s an extremely deadly organization, very well trained. And, it’s one of the only al-Qaeda affiliates which actually had actively recruited, here, in the United States.” ABC News says that al-Shabab — the group claiming responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya — has made “about 50 recruits, according to U.S. officials, from small towns and big cities across the country. More than half of them have been traced back to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
Three such recruits from the twin cities of Minnesota showed up in a recruiting video online posted last month by al-Shabab. Those three young American men, the video claimed, “later died as martyrs,” says Brian Ross for ABC News. On the video, a young male who appeared to look and sound like an American, dressed in traditional Middle Eastern clothing, proclaimed to the camera, “If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here. This is the real Disneyland.” David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia said, “They have a core of people — probably mostly young people — who are willing to give their lives for this.”
Ross added, “al-Shabab leaders who have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda have vowed to hit U.S. targets, and officials worry that the American recruits still there could return home with that in mind.” Former FBI agent, Ali Soufan theorized that “What you see today in Kenya can be easily copied here in the United States. This is something scary.” However, Ross concluded that “to date, the FBI and other law enforcement officials say they have no indication that al-Shabab has any plans or ... the capacity, at this point, to attack in the U.S.”
At the time of this report, Ross admitted that ABC News did not have any reliable information which could definitively tie American recruits like those three from Minnesota to the Kenya mall terrorists’ attack. However he cautioned that “lots of Americans have joined up with al-Shabab and have trained in their deadly tactics.” CBS News reports that “al-Shabab aims to extend its reach,” showing American recruits in internet videos “the Somali terror group al-Shabab has drawn at least 40 U.S. radicals to Somalia.”
On Sunday, the day after the attack, President Obama called Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, according to USA Today and ABC News. He offered President Kenyatta and the people of Kenya condolences for the tragic attack, as well as “U.S. support in trying to track down and bring the perpetrators to justice, because ... this is seen here at the White House as more than a Kenyan tragedy. This is a reminder of the ongoing terror threat and the fear ... that that terrorist group, al-Shabab, could target, next time, U.S. interests — whether they’re here ... or abroad. This is seen as a threat to the United States, as well,” said Jonathan Karl for ABC News.