Al-Shabab could conduct a terror attack in the United States, according to the Somali president.
The terrorist group which has claimed “credit” for the horrific Nairobi, Kenya, mall attack may be considering targeting America, as well, he said. Somalia is reportedly the hub for the Al-Shabab terrorist group.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud discussed the possibility of an Al-Shabab terrorism attack in America with journalist Josh Rogin while he was in Washington, DC, when the Kenya mall attack occurred. President Mohamud has reportedly been spearheading efforts to drive Al-Shabab from its stronghold in Somalia, and the leader believes that the terrorist organization has an international structure which includes both foreign funding and fighters.
“Al-Shabab is not a Somali agenda, it’s an international agenda,” the president said. “Al-Shabab is working with an international capacity in terms of trading and financial resources. Al-Shabab is more of an international problem than a Somali problem. It can happen here in the United States as it is now happening in Nairobi.”
There had been a 20-year-break in diplomatic connections between the United States and Somalia until the government headed by President Mohamud was endorsed by US President Barack Obama last year. Al-Shabab is reportedly running on the defensive in Somalia due to the efforts of both the country’s leadership and aid by international forces. If Mohamud’s statements are accurate, Al-Shabab forces in Somalia are losing their territory strongholds and military might. While the Somali president firmly believes the group is weakening, he still feels that they can successfully hit soft targets and kill significant numbers of unprepared innocents.
“In Shabab there are Kenyans, there are Ugandans, there are Ethiopians, there are Arabs. It is only true that they are headquartered in Somalia, but Shabab is not Somali. They are not large in number but they are so mobile. Today they are here and the next week they are 1,000 miles away from where they were fighting yesterday.”
While in Washington, DC, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud spent some time with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Mohamud requested the United States enhance aid to his country by providing additional military training and equipment and offering fiscal support for “civil society” development. The requests reportedly stem from a need for assistance in driving Al-Shabab out of rural areas in Somalia. The United States has conducted drone strikes in areas which are allegedly under the control of the terrorist group.
United States intelligence and surveillance officials apparently do not agree with Mohamud’s theory about a potential Al-Shabab threat on American soil. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said that there is currently no evidence to support the idea that the terrorist organization is capable of initiating an attack in the United States.
While the Washington, D.C. establishment may not think Al-Shabab poses an imminent threat in the United States, many Americans are not convinced. According to a CNN report, the Al Qaeda-affiliated group has developed “deep links” in this country over the past several years, and a total of 15 American citizens have been killed while fighting for the terrorist group. Four of those killed were allegedly suicide bombers on mission in Somalia. One of the United States citizens supposedly held a leadership role in one of the suicide bombing groups. The Al Shabab groups were able to enhance their recruiting efforts among Somali-Americans after Ethiopia invaded their homeland in 2006.
The Al Qaeda linked group has also reportedly garnered support in communities in St. Louis, Seattle, Ohio, Minnesota, Alabama, and Maryland. Minnesota is home to the largest group of United States citizens with Al Shabab sympathies. According to New America Foundation statistics, 22 Minnesota residents have either given funds to or fought with the terrorist group in the past four years alone.
As we prepare for the Christmas season, and the biggest shopping days of the year, will you feel a little less safe when going to your local mall?