Kenyan officials: Americans among mall attackers

U.S. passport-holding al-Shabaab fighters are troubling, but no justification for the War on Terror

By Natasha Lennard
September 24, 2013 7:53PM (UTC)
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Kenyan officials appear to be confirming Monday's speculations: Two or three Americans and one Briton are reportedly among the Kenyan mall attackers -- a three-day siege which has left over 60 people dead.

Via the AP:

[Kenya's] 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 U.S. The attacker from Britain was a woman who has "done this many times before," Mohamed said.

U.S. officials are yet to confirm these reports, but White House spokesman Ben Rhodes said: "We do monitor very carefully and have for some time been concerned about efforts by al-Shabaab to recruit Americans or U.S. persons to come to Somalia... This is an issue that has been tracked very closely by the U.S. government, and it's one that we'll be looking into in the days ahead."


Given the likelihood of Americans' involvement in the siege, it bears repeating that this is no justification for the sprawling, unconstitutional surveillance of Muslim communities in the U.S. that has marred the post-9/11 epoque. The existence of a so-called terror "pipeline" of U.S. jihadists to al-Shabaab in Somalia is evidence of the ineffectuality of such racial profiling as policing. As I noted yesterday, when reports first emerged that Americans may be among the mall attackers:

As with any terror attack that garners international attention and involves the U.S. in any way, there’s a risk of viewing the fact of the massacre as justification for the dramatic shift since 2001 toward preemptive policing and spycraft used against Muslim communities in the name of the War on Terror... If it is indeed true that U.S. passport holders took part in the mall siege, it will be further evidence of the War on Terror’s failure, but will likely (and sadly) be used as further fuel for its perpetuation.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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