Americans Abroad

NBC news says that the FBI is investigating "whether as many as five Americans were among the small team of terrorists who took over a Kenyan mall and launched a bloodbath that has left at least 68 dead and 175 injured over two days of carnage."

The investigation is in its early stages and until a conclusion of the siege in Kenya — which spilled into a second bloody day on Sunday — authorities may not know for sure whether any U.S. residents were involved.

The notion that Americans were involved came directly from the terrorists themselves — or at least a Twitter feed purporting to represent the Somali al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab, which has claimed responsibility for the mall attack.

Earlier, Bridget Johnson of PJMedia wrote that "Al-Shabaab is claiming that there are American gunmen among those still holed up in the Westgate mall in a standoff with Kenyan and Israeli special forces." Only 3 alleged Americans were named in the PJMedia article.

However, there were indications that the US government was aware of the possibility its citizens might be involved. CNN quoted Congressman Peter King as saying there were as many as 50 American citizens in the al-Shabaab.

“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,” he continued.

The Justice Department believes al-Shabaab has made recruiting efforts inside mosques in Somali-American communities in cities such as Minneapolis and San Diego

According to sources which are still unconfirmed, "the attackers all between the age of 20 and 27 years old, are from numerous countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Syria and Russia and where all trained in Somalia." In fact, of the purported list of assailants, only a minority are actually from Somalia or Kenya, the rest being 'internationals'.

Earlier the Chicago Tribune reported a statement by President Obama reiterating "U.S. support for Kenya's efforts to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice."  This may have been in anticipation of the legal fallout from a possible capture of Americans. The Nairobi mall is now largely in the hands of Kenyan government security forces. If any of the assailants are taken alive, some of them may ask for consular protection.

Minnesota Public Radio reported last May on "Operation Rhino" -- "a sweeping investigation of al-Shabab recruitment in the United States. Since 2007, about two dozen young Twin Cities men are believed to have left for Somalia to join the group as fighters". However, "Federal prosecutors say they found no evidence that the al-Shabab recruits were planning any attacks in the U.S."

Also observing the courtroom proceedings was Hassan Mohamud, a St. Paul imam who served as a spokesman for the families and the Somali community. Somalis are concerned about how the sentences look to members of the broader community, he said.

"Whatever outcome -- these cases starting from today and the next couple days -- whatever outcome they see, that doesn't reflect, number one, on the faith of the Muslim community or the faith of the Somali community," Mohamud said.

The products of the Minneapolis mosques proved real hardcore. The DOJ's Operation Rhino site lists some of their adventures.

Shirwa Ahmed drove an explosive laden Toyota truck into an office of the Puntland Intelligence Service in Bossasso, Puntland; other targets included a second Puntland Intelligence Service Office in Bossasso, and the Presidential Palace, United Nations Development Program office, and Ethiopian Trade Mission in Hargeisa. ...

On May 30, 2011, Farah Mohamed Beledi, one of the October 2009 travelers, was shot and killed by TFG troops as he attempted to enter their base in Mogadishu while wearing a vest containing explosives. The vest worn by one of Beledi’s cohorts did explode, killing a person at the checkpoint.

If they do come back, their misguided activities will potentially reignite the debate over gun laws as they collide with the administration's new initiative to restrict gun ownership. "President Obama called Sunday for a 'transformation' of the nation's gun laws, saying last week's deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard echoes too many other killings across the United States."

The Daily Mail is now reporting that at least one of the attackers -- perhaps even the leader -- in Nairobi is British.  If it turns out that some of the others are from the US it suggests that multiculturalism, as understood by the Left, has been a complete and utter failure. Barack Obama demonstrated his comprehensive misunderstanding of multiculturalism in the book Audacity of Hope when he wrote:

In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

But leaving aside the fact that the Japanese Americans were interned by Franklin Roosevelt, a man Obama likens himself to, the most obvious difference in his flawed comparison is that the Nisei volunteered in droves to fight for America in the most gallant fashion conceivable. They went abroad to fight for America, and not against it, which is what makes the facile comparison so grotesque.

But as the Nairobi mall incident demonstrates there's already a lot of water under the bridge. What now? What now?

Excerpt from Stephen Hunter's Soft Target.

The bullet hit Santa Claus beneath the left eye. It shattered his skull, blew a large exit wound from the rear of that vessel, and drove a bright red spatter pattern across the pale satin of his throne like some sort of twisted abstract painting. Worse still, the ballistic energy unleashed an upper-body spasm that shook his hat comically askew, and it slipped off his face and caught on his ear and hung there like a large red sock.The four-year-old girl sitting in his lap stared not so much in horror but in fascination. She understood that this was “different” but had no larger context against which to compare it. She had no acquaintance yet with the concept of horror and the human fear of seeing the body’s vaults penetrated and eviscerated, but she picked up immediately on the appropriate response from her mother, who grabbed her and started screaming as the hundreds of others clustered around Santa’s throne began to do the same. ...

Phil, the commander of the afternoon watch for America, the Mall, looked and saw chaos, speed, blur and panic into a plague of indistinct animal movement on the monitor marked nine ... by the crazed magic of closed circuit security television he could watch the panic spread ... the horror bled from monitor to monitor across the vast security views ... "I'm getting shooters in the Mall ... people down and bleeding ... it was their ultimate nightmare the one everyone said would never come."

The day everyone said would never come.

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