Five US-Americans Terrorists Among the Team of the Bloody
Kenyan Mal Siege.
By Pete Williams, Richard Esposito and Simon Moya-Smith, NBC
The FBI is investigating whether as many as five Americans
are among the small team of terrorists who took over a
Kenyan mall and launched a bloodbath that has left at least
68 dead and 175 injured over two days of carnage.
The investigation is in its early stages and until a
conclusion of the siege in Kenya — which was continued into
a second bloody day on Sunday — authorities may not know for
sure whether any U.S. residents were involved.
The notion that Americans were involved came directly from
the terrorists themselves — or at least a Twitter feed
purporting to represent the Somali al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab,
which has claimed responsibility for the mall attack.
The account listed specific names and home states of the
Americans they said were on their side. The group has had
several Twitter handles shut down over the course of two
days as they blast pro-jihad propaganda across the Internet.
Two of the purported American jihadists are allegedly from
the St Paul-Minneapolis community that authorities say is
the largest Somali population outside of Mogadishu, with
some 85,700 members, according to latest the Census Bureau
The FBI and local authorities should be able to determine
quickly if the alleged suspects are at home, and fairly
quickly if they may have been radicalized and perhaps gone
over seas. But if the individuals have moved overseas, their
leanings will be much harder to figure out.
Meanwhile, an unknown number of people continued to be held
hostage Sunday by the masked gunmen who stormed the Nairobi
mall Saturday afternoon in Kenya and indiscriminately shot
anyone not of Muslim faith
In an effort to end the two-day siege, Kenyan officials
announced late Sunday that they plan to launch a "major"
assault against the attackers still inside the upscale
Westgate mall, the Associated Press reported.
The militant Islamic group al-Shabab, based in neighboring
Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter,
saying it was in retaliation "for the lives of innocent
Muslims" killed by Kenyan forces leading an African Union
offensive against al-Shabab.
American citizens, including a 26-year-old woman from San
Diego and a woman from North Carolina, were reportedly among
the wounded in Saturday's attack. Several foreigners,
including a Canadian diplomat and three British citizens,
were among the dead.
One nearby hospital has received at least 128 patients and
performed 28 surgeries to remove bullets and shrapnel in the
first 24 hours since the attacks began Saturday, according
to the Associated Press.
"We have at least two critical patients currently, one with
bullets lodged near the spine," M.P. Shah Hospital Chairman
Manoj Shah told the AP. He added that four of the 19
fatalities at this particular hospital were children.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters that the
government believed there were 10 to 15 attackers and that
security forces were still locked in a standoff.
He said efforts were underway to free hostages, without
On Sunday, President Barack Obama called Kenyan President
Uhuru Kenyatta to express his condolences and to declare
that his administration supports Kenyatta's effort to bring
the attackers to justice.
"President Obama reiterated U.S. support for Kenya's efforts
to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice," the
White House said in a statement.
Kenyatta, facing his first major security challenge since
his election in March, said members of his family had been
killed, according to Reuters.
Mobile phone signals began to fail in the area as darkness
fell. Kenyatta, vowing to stand firm against Somali
militants, was cautious about the outcome, saying chances of
the siege ending well were "as good ... as we can hope for."
British Prime Minister David Cameron, confirming that the
three Britons were dead, said: "We should prepare ourselves
for further bad news."
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a
statement Sunday condemning the attackers "in the strongest
"This premeditated act, targeting defenceless civilians, is
totally reprehensible," he wrote. "The perpetrators must be
brought to justice as soon as possible."
Ki-moon, who stated that he has been in contact with
Kenyatta, expressed his solidarity with Kenya and added that
he grieves for the families who have lost loved ones.
Ghana's President John Dramani told the Agence France-Presse
that celebrated Ghanian poet Kofi Awoonor, 78, is among the
slain and expressed shock over his death. Awoonor's son was
wounded in the siege.
"Such a sad twist of fate," Dramani said to the AFP.
Manish Turohit, 18, who hid in a parking garage for two
hours before leaving in a line of 15 people who exited with
their hands in the air to avoid being shot, told al-Jazeera
that gunmen carrying AK-47s and wearing vests with hand
grenades on them stormed into the mall.
"They just came in and threw a grenade," he said. "They were
shouting and firing."
A North Carolina woman told NBC affiliate WAVY of
Portsmouth, Va., by Skype that she was at the Westgate mall
for lunch when the attack began.
"We stood up and started to turn, and we heard machine
guns," said Bendita Malakia, 30, of Elizabeth City, who had
moved to Nairobi in July to work at a financial company.
"Then, we started to run and there was a second explosion,
which knocked us on the ground."
Malakia said she and a friend took shelter in a store with
dozens of other people, and the store manager pulled down
gates to block the attackers.
"While we were back there you could hear them methodically
going from store to store, talking to people, and asking
questions," Malakia said. "They were shooting, screaming.
Then it would stop for a while and they would go to another
Elaine Dang, a 26-year-old woman with ties to San Diego, was
also injured, according to NBCSanDiego.com.
Another unnamed witness quoted by The Associated Press said
the gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave and that
non-Muslims would be targeted.
The New York Times reported that a confidential United
Nations security report said two squads of gunmen attacked
on different floors of the mall.
The attack is significant not only because of its loss of
life, but also because it underlines the capacity of al-Shabab
to launch a sophisticated attack in the middle of a key
capital city, according to Rafaello Pantucci, senior
research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think
tank in Britain.
"This is not a new problem for Kenya, which has been facing
not only a problem from across the border in Somalia but
they've been seeing a growing radicalization within the
country as well."
Former prime minister Raila Odinga arrived at the scene on
Sunday, along with hundreds of onlookers behind a police
cordon. The crowd began to cheer as a police helicopter
Mary Murray and Reuters contributed to this report.
As bloody Kenya siege continues for second day, FBI
investigating claims of Americans' involvement
Posted: Sep 23, 2013 12:32 AM &amp;amp;lt;em class="wnDate"&amp;amp;gt;Sunday,
September 22, 2013 5:32 PM EST&amp;amp;lt;/em&amp;amp;gt;Updated:
Sep 23, 2013 12:32 AM &amp;amp;lt;em class="wnDate"&amp;amp;gt;Sunday,
September 22, 2013 5:32 PM EST&amp;amp;lt;/em&amp;amp;gt;
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