The Somali-based Al Qaeda-linked militant group Al Shabab claims that it carried out Saturday’s attack at a shopping mall in Kenya’s capital. The group said that the attack was in response to Kenya’s participation in a peacekeeping operation in Somalia. Dozens have been killed and some Al Shabab militants remain in the mall.
Whether there were Americans among the attackers or not it is true that Al Shabab has recruited Americans from Somali-American communities in the past.
King also said that there are dozens of Americans who have joined Al Shabab, some of whom have been killed.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” the New York Republican also said he assumes the United States government is looking to prevent any attempts in the U.S. by Al-Shabaab, the group claiming responsibility for the attack.
Al-Shabaab is an al Qaeda-linked Somali group that was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government in March 2008. It was behind the July 2010 suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, that killed more than 70 people as they gathered to watch a World Cup final soccer match.
“It's an extremely deadly organization, very well trained,” King said. “And it's one of the only al Qaeda affiliates which actually has actively recruited here in the United States. There is at least 40 to 50 Somali-Americans (who) have gone from the United States to Somalia to be trained. A number of them have been killed, but there's others still alive.”
King added he hasn’t heard whether any of those American jihadists were involved in the mall attack. “We know there's probably still 15 to 20 Somali-Americans who are still active over there.”
“The concern would be if any of those have come back to the United States and would use those abilities here in the United States,” he continued.
King went on to say that he assumes that the FBI and local law enforcement are examining Somali-American communities:
“I would assume that the FBI and local law enforcement are looking into those Somalia-American communities today … using all their sources and resources to make sure there's no follow-up attempt here in the United States,” King said.
King has expressed concern about the radicalization of American Muslims before, holding a series of House Homeland Security Committee hearings in 2011, one of which focused on Al Shabbab’s recruitment in the U.S. In his opening statement for the third of these hearings King said the following:
Some argue that al-Shabaab is only a Somali problem, and that the group will never strike outside of the Horn of Africa region.
That kind of thinking is a glaring example of what the 9/11 Commission called a failure of imagination.
With al-Shabaab’s large cadre of American jihadis and unquestionable ties to al-Qaeda, particularly its alliance with AQAP, we must face the reality that al-Shabaab is a growing threat to our homeland.
The video of King’s opening statement of the third of these hearings is below: