It’s good to hear that at least one person in the Congress is concerned that the al-Shebaab attack on the Nairobi shopping mall may inspire copy-cat behavior in co-religionist Somalis here. As Rep. Peter King noted on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, at least 40 to 50 Somalis residing in this country left for their homeland to be trained in jihadist warfare. Plus there is no lack of interest among those remaining, as shown by at least two groups of convictions this year of Somalis for funding terrorist activity, specifically two Somali women in Minnesota and four immigrants in San Diego including an imam.
The interview took place on Sunday morning, before it was reported by CNN that three of the Shabaab gunmen are from America.
ABC This Week Transcript, September 22, 2013
MARTHA RADDATZ: Now for more let’s bring in Republican Congressman Peter King, a member of the House intelligence committee who has been briefed on the Nairobi attack. Congressman King thanks for joining us this morning.
What can you tell us about what kind of attack this was, who they believe is responsible in.
PETER KING: Well, Martha, this was a very sophisticated attack, very similar to what we saw in Mumbai. And by all indicators, this was carried out by al Shabaab, which is based out of Somalia.
When I was chairman of the Homeland Security Committee two years ago I conducted a hearing on al Shabaab. It’s extremely deadly organization, very well trained. And it’s one of the only al Qaeda affiliates which actually has actively recruited here in the United States. There is at least 40 to 50 Somali-Americans have gone from the United States to Somalia to be trained. A number of them have been killed, but there’s other still alive.
So I am — I would assume that the FBI and local law enforcement are looking into those Somalia-American communities today if any leads or indicators using all their sources and resources to make sure there’s no follow-up attempt here in the United States.
RADDATZ: And how about any information on whether some of those Somali-Americans might be involved in the attack, anything on that yet?
KING: I have not heard if any of them are involved or not. We know there’s probably still 15 to 20 Somali-Americans who are still active over there. The concern would be if any of those have come back to the United States and would use those abilities here in the United States.
Also Martha, this shows the really growing influence of al Qaeda in Africa. You have al Shabaab now in Somalia going off into Kenya, carrying out an attack outside its own country.
For years, the State Department did not want to declare al Shabaab a terrorist organization, because they thought it was focusing on tribal issue within Somalia. Now, we see, by attacking into Kenya they certainly have an international dimension to them.
You also have Boko Haram in Nigeria. And other — and also you have al Shabaab working closely with al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula in Yemen.
So we’re talking about very significant terrorist groups here which are showing a capacity to attack outside of their borders and actually recruit people from here in the United States.
RADDATZ: And really, one of the biggest terrorist attacks in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy?
KING: Now, this is a particularly brutal attack. And it almost seems as if the terror world was coming full cycle, because one of the first major attacks we recall against the United States was the attack on the embassies back in 1998. And now we have, 15 years later, a massacre, really in a well coordinated, well planned horrific massacre, I mean, they attacked at the busiest time of the week, the busiest time of the day. They knew what they were doing, they took the hostages.
So is, again, very similar to Mumbai. And showing that al Qaeda and its affiliates are still extremely powerful and still able to really strike terror into the hearts of people, attacking a shopping mall, it has no military significance at all. This is clearly an attack to terrorize and murder innocent civilians. And if the reports are true that they were allowing Muslims to leave and focusing on non-Muslims.
Again, they’re making this part of their jihadist war.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Congressman King, for joining us.