Smoke rises from the Westgate shopping centre.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Kenyan military chief Julius Karangi said Monday that some of the al-Shabaab terrorists involved in the attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Center may be of
Many witnesses said they heard the
attackers shouting commands at each other in English during the attack
which killed 62 people. Karangi
insisted that the gunmen inside the mall were “clearly a multinational
collection from all over the world.”
Al Shabaab, whose name in Arabic means “The Youth,” includes several dozen American recruits, according to Washington Post
counter-terrorism analysts.The Post
reported on Tuesday that Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed
confirmed “two or three Americans” and “one Brit” were among the
militants who perpetrated the attack.
In an interview Monday
with PBS Newshour, Mohamed reportedly explained that the American
attackers were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived
“in Minnesota and one other place” in United States.
intelligence officer and two soldiers also told Reuters that one of the
dead militants was a white woman, and speculation over their identities
began to rise.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said they were all men but that some had dressed as women.
The British jihadist was a woman who has “done this many times before,” Mohamed reportedly said.
is likely to fuel speculation that she is the wanted widow of one of
the suicide bombers who together killed more than 50 people on London's
transport system in 2005.
Called the "white widow" by the British
press, Samantha Lewthwaite is wanted in connection with an alleged plot
to attack hotels and restaurants in Kenya. Asked if the dead woman was
Lewthwaite, the intelligence officer said: "We don't know."
authorities are urgently looking into information given by the Kenyan
government that residents of Western countries, including the United
States, may have been among the attackers, US security sources said.
House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said he had no direct
information that Americans had participated in the attack, but
expressed US worries.
"We do monitor very carefully and have for
some time been concerned about efforts by al Shabaab to recruit
Americans or US persons to come to Somalia," Rhodes told reporters
traveling with US President Obama to the United Nations in New York.
Twitter account that claimed to be at the fingertips of the
al-Qaida-linked al Shabaab terrorist entity has allegedly been
documenting the Westgate mall siege with real time updates through the
social media site.
Tweets from the account, which has now been
blocked, described several of the jihadists as being of Western origins.
One tweet even specifically named the "white widow," Samantha
Lewthwaite, saying she is a "brave lady" and they are glad to have her
in their ranks.
However, according to the Washington Post
the militant group said Monday — on a different Twitter handle verified
by the SITE Monitoring Service, that it had not sent the earlier
messages or released the names or any other details about the attackers.
Mali to Algeria, Nigeria to Kenya, violent Islamist groups - tapping
into local poverty, conflict, inequality or exclusion but espousing a
similar anti-Western, anti-Christian creed - are striking at state
authority and international interests, both economic and political.
Campbell, a former US ambassador to Nigeria, said he believed
insurgents such as those who rebelled in Mali last year, the Nigerian
Boko Haram Islamist sect and the Nairobi mall raiders were also partly
motivated by anger with what he called "pervasive malgovernance" in
"This is undoubtedly anti-Western and anti-Christian but
it also taps into a lot of deep popular anger against the political
economy in which they find themselves, in which a very small group of
people are basically raking off the wealth," he said.Reuters contributed to this report