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by Sharon Rondeau

The country of Kenya has been attracting investment from all over the world, with tourism a major industry. The Westgate Mall in Nairobi was frequented by Westerners, diplomats and well-to-do Kenyans

(Sep. 23, 2013) — A shopping mall overtaken by armed terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya is reported on Monday to be “nearly under control” after a third day of siege.

On Saturday, gunshots were heard at the Westgate Mall, after which hundreds of terrified and injured shoppers poured out of the building, many of them children.

As of Tuesday morning Nairobi time, CNN reported that a few of the 10-15 terrorists remained inside the mall but that all four floors of the structure had been secured by authorities.  Three militants were killed and most or all of the hostages recovered from their captors.

Sixty-five people are reported missing as of this writing.

Members of the terrorist group Al Shabaab were identified as the perpetrators at the outset.  Like the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Shabaab, which began in Somalia, has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda.

One of the militants who may have been their leader is the widow of a jihadist who helped to carry out the July 7, 2005 attacks in London which killed 50 people.

On Monday, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed stated that the attack “bares [sic] the hallmarks of Al Qaeda” because of its sophisticated planning and level of coordination.

Mohamed told PBS and The Washington Post that the terrorists include several who came from the United States, specifically from the states of Minnesota and Missouri.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama had said that Al Qaeda was “decimated.”

The Minnesota Historical Society reports that as of 2010, Minnesota was home to more than 28,000 Somali immigrants out of a total estimated to be living in the United States of 103,117.  Many of those are said to be living in poverty.  The following year, people born in Somalia or descended from Somali immigrants numbered approximately 32,000 in Minnesota.

On October 27, 2011, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported:

Members of Minnesota’s Somali community have been in the news amid long-running federal investigations into recruiting and financing of people from the U.S. to train or fight for al-Shabab in Somalia. U.S. government officials consider the group to be a terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaida.

Two women, both U.S. citizens of Somali descent, were convicted last week of conspiring to funnel money to al-Shabab. They were among 20 people charged in the Minnesota investigations.

A professor and Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship told a Minnesota news station that Somalis spread the word that Minnesota is “a good place” after refugees received the benefit of “governmental programs” and “voluntary agencies.”

In February of this year, four Somali immigrants were convicted in the San Diego, CA area on charges of funneling money to members of Al-Shabaab.

There is also a Somali immigrant population in Boston.

The Kenyan government reported on Monday that 62 people have been killed and at least 175 wounded by the mall attack.

Al Shabaab’s goal is to establish Sharia law within Somalia and drive out Kenyan forces which have pursued Islamic militants.  In July 2011, Rep. Peter King revealed during a congressional hearing that 40 Somalis who had settled in the United States had returned to Somalia to commit jihad.  In prepared remarks, King said, “Not Al Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad.”

CNN reported the same number of American recruits to the Somali terror group on Monday.  In addition to those from the U.S., recruits to Al Shabaab include people from Canada, the Middle East and European countries.

Before he was killed by U.S. forces, Osama bin Laden had instructed Al Shabaab to avoid killing Muslim civilians, as their killings had been indiscriminate.

Following the mall attack, some U.S. Republican legislators cautioned that “al-Qaeda is growing in size and strength.”  


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