Obama Admin. Fears al-Shabab Could Duplicate Kenya Attack in U.S.

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 26, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

The United States is send­ing in­vest­ig­at­ors to Nairobi, Kenya, to gath­er forensic in­form­a­tion and de­tails about the re­cent deadly at­tack in a shop­ping mall, cit­ing con­cerns that the re­spons­ible ter­ror­ist group could try a sim­il­ar as­sault on the U.S. home­land, the New York Times re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day.

The FBI already has been mon­it­or­ing the Somali Is­lam­ist ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tion al-Shabab, which has ties to al-Qaida. The U.S. gov­ern­ment has in­ves­ted large sums of money in counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tions tar­get­ing al-Shabab. However, the multi-day siege in Nairobi of the West­g­ate shop­ping com­plex and the killings of at least 67 people there has shown the world the group is not yet de­feated.

“The more we know about the plan­ning that went in­to this, the way it was con­duc­ted, what was used, the people in­volved, the bet­ter we can pro­tect Amer­ica,” U.S. Am­bas­sad­or to Kenya Robert Go­dec said, ex­press­ing solid­ar­ity with the East Afric­an na­tion.

Not even 24 hours after the mall siege came to an end, more than 20 FBI in­vest­ig­at­ors scoured the scene to gath­er bio­met­ric data and stud­ied cam­er­as, com­puters and fire­arms in the hopes of fig­ur­ing out how the at­tack was de­vised and or­ches­trated. Mem­bers of the New York Joint Ter­ror­ism Task Force unit are ex­pec­ted to shortly travel to Nairobi, an uniden­ti­fied law en­force­ment source said.

As of yet, there are no signs al-Shabab is plan­ning spe­cif­ic strikes on the United States. Still, the group’s abil­ity to gath­er ad­her­ents from the coun­try and oth­er West­ern na­tions is more pro­nounced than any oth­er al-Qaida af­fil­i­ated or­gan­iz­a­tion, The Hill news­pa­per re­por­ted.

“This is a real con­cern be­cause al-Shabab has a real re­cruit­ment pro­cess. And how did I hear this? I heard it from them on tele­vi­sion,” Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein (D-Cal­if.) said.

Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mac Thorn­berry (R-Texas), however, re­portedly does not see the or­gan­iz­a­tion pos­ing a ser­i­ous threat to the United States, and views the Nairobi as­sault as a fi­nal at­tempt at main­tain­ing rel­ev­ance after com­ing close to be­ing crushed in Somalia.

“When you pin a rattlesnake in­to a corner, they are go­ing to strike out,” Thorn­berry, who chairs the House Armed Ser­vices sub­com­mit­tee on in­tel­li­gence and emer­ging threats, said in an in­ter­view with The Hill.

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