The Conversation

2 - 3 Americans Involved In Kenya Attack, Reportedly From Minnesota and Elsewhere

Kenya's foreign minister has gone on record claiming 2 to 3 Americans were involved in the terrorist attack on a Kenya mall.

Kenya's foreign minister says "two or three Americans" and "one Brit" were among those who attacked a Nairobi shopping mall. More than 60 people have been killed in the assault on the upscale mall, which has lasted for three days. The foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said in an interview with PBS' "NewsHour" program that the Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived "in Minnesota and one other place" in the US.

Along with Minneapolis and St. Paul, Portland, Maine is also considered a potential recuting location for al-Shabab. More general background on that topic here. 

The allegation that Portland is a terrorist recruitment center for al-Shabab dates back to at least March 2009, when an FBI report cited Portland as one of several U.S. cities where members of Somali immigrant populations might be vulnerable to recruitment efforts by the al-Qaida-linked group. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held hearings that same month on al-Shabab's recruitment efforts in the U.S., but the testimony focused largely on Minneapolis.

As of 2012, there were about 6,000 immigrants from Somalia in Maine, including roughly 1,000 members of the Bantu ethnic minority group.

On Sunday morning's "Today" show, NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann said al-Shabab recruits terrorists from Portland and other U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, San Diego and Seattle.

"These are not places you think of as being headquarters for terrorist groups," Kohlmann said on the program. "Nonetheless, Shabab has had quite a bit of success in terms of finding local people in these different cities ... and bringing them to Somalia."

Kohlmann wasn't the only person to mention Portland on Sunday in relation to the events in Kenya.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, told the New York City news radio station WCBS 880 that officials are aware of 40 to 50 Somali-Americans who have gone back to Somalia to train.


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