Minn. Somali Community Reacts To Kenyan Mall Attack

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two days after Al-Shabaab militants stormed and unleashed chaos in a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, the group has released the names of the people responsible.

On Twitter Sunday, Al-Shabaab said some of the militants are from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The Al-Shabaab Twitter account has since been suspended, but this is a terror group Minnesotans have become familiar with.

For local Somali community leaders, the chaos in Nairobi is a reminder of the dangers of Al-Shabaab being able to recruit young Somali-Americans for their attacks.

“It’s very sad those kids are getting caught in the middle of this,” said Omar Jamal, who works for the United Nations. “If anything, it shows Al-Shabaab is as deadly and dangerous as it can ever be.”

A leader within the Somali community told WCCO two of the attackers are from the Twin Cities, but he has not yet spoken with their families.

Al-Shabaab has a history of recruiting young Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities. The FBI says several dozen have been lured to terror training camps overseas.

“Literally stolen from their parents in Minneapolis and put them in harm’s way,” Abdi Bihi, with the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, said.

Bihi lost his nephew to Al-Shabaab. He says more needs to be done to help assimilate young Somali-Americans with education and job resources, so they may be less likely to fall prey to Al-Shabaab.

“The worst thing of my life that still hounds me is to work with those families, those mothers and the pain they feel,” Bihi said. “Al-Shabaab might be the only people greeting them, acting like the father, they’re brainwashed. It’s not going to go away overnight, nobody can wish this thing away.”

Leaders within the Twin Cities Somali-American community didn’t know the individuals listed. Another militant listed was from Kansas City.

Sixty-eight people have died from the attack in Nairobi. Most of the remaining hostages have been rescued from the mall.

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