Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said earlier this week that "two or three" Americans of Somali or Arab origin who lived "in Minnesota and one other place" were among the militants who attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last weekend. Mohamed also said that one British woman was involved in the attack. Al Shabab, the Somali Al Qaeda-linked group, has claimed responsibility for the massacre.
However, yesterday Attorney General Eric Holder said that "We don't have any verifiable information that would indicate one way or the other way that Americans were involved."
At least 67 people were killed in the attack that began last Saturday, including a nephew of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his fiancee. Kenyatta attended their funeral Friday at a Nairobi church, giving a eulogy.
Al-Shabaab has alleged Americans were involved in the attack but U.S. investigators in Kenya said they have not found any evidence to support the allegations, NBC News reported.
"We don't have any verifiable information that would indicate one way or the other way that Americans were involved," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.
The fact that Holder said that there no "verifiable" information suggesting that Americans were involved in carrying out the attack in Nairobi will not change the fact that the attack has highlighted that Americans have joined Al Shabab in the past and has put some in the Somali-American community on the defensive.
Shortly after the attack Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has expressed concern about Al Shabab recruitment in the U.S. before, said, "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."
Unsurprisingly, leaders of the Somali-American community are working on repairing their community's image, despite the fact that the identities of the militants in Nairobi have yet to be released.
From Minnesota Public Radio:
The Somali terror group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the assault on the Westgate shopping mall, and Kenyan officials have said "two or three" Americans were involved. But FBI officials say the agency has yet to confirm the names and nationalities of the attackers.
Under the spotlight, Somali professionals in Minnesota are raising awareness about the challenges facing young Somalis—while trying to repair their community's image.
When asked how al-Shabab appeals to young men whose families came to Minnesota for a better life, Abdul Mohamed said the targets are often vulnerable.
"Al-Shabab, as a terrorist organization, they're very good at what they do," said Mohamed told reporters today. "They tell these children there's a better life for you, and they use religious justification to back their recruitment efforts."
More from Reason.com on the Nairobi mall attack here.