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February 24, 2015

Al Shabaab Video Threatens Jewish and Western Targets

The video calls for attacks on "Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers"

The video calls for attacks on “Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers” and other shopping centers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

A new video released by Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, that encourages attacks against “American and Jewish-owned shopping centers around the world,” highlights the role of anti-Semitism in terrorist narrative.

The video focused on Al Shabaab’s September 2013 siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which lasted for three days and resulted in at least 67 fatalities. At the time of the attack, Al Shabaab claimed to have targeted that mall because it had “Jewish and American owned” shops. The new video affirmed Al Shabaab’s interest in Jewish targets.

Its release comes as other terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, have issued calls for homegrown attacks in the West as they vie against each other for power and followers.

“Westgate shopping mall…is a four-story Israeli-owned complex,” the video’s narrator stated, and in response to the attack, “Israeli security specialists and FBI teams were…on the ground.” The video also put the nationality “Israeli” first in a list of nationalities of the deceased.

Showcasing the 2013 attack enables Al Shabaab to show off its accomplishments to potential new recruits, but the group also apparently hopes it may inspire copycat attacks. Addressing Western sympathizers, the narrator stated, “We call upon our Muslim brothers, particularly those in the West…. imagine what a dedicated mujahid (fighter) in the West could do to the American and Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world.”

It then went on to issue more specific threats: “What if such an attack was to call in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street, or any of the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers dotted right across the Western world…”

Although Al Shabaab has not staged any significant attack outside Eastern Africa, it has posed a significant threat to U.S. security. At least 50 U.S. citizens and permanent residents have been charged with providing material support to the group or are believed to have joined it. Some of those citizens are now actively recruiting U.S. citizens to join ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

Another recent Al Shabaab video, released in May 2014, called for lone wolf attacks in the West.

Anti-Semitism is at the core of Islamic extremist ideology, and terrorist groups including Al Shabaab regularly use anti-Semitism to attract and radicalize potential recruits. In the past, Al Shabaab declared an “open bat­tle” against Israel, which it called the “oppress­ing Zion­ist entity,” and against Jew­ish inter­ests in Africa. In an English-language magazine released in 2012, the group called Jews, “the worst enemy of Islam.”

The new video also highlighted the importance of social media as a vehicle for disseminating terrorist propaganda, claiming that “HSM Press (the Al Shabaab Twitter feed) soon became the most credible source of information on the attack,” and noted that Al Shabaab had live-streamed the attack on Twitter. The video itself was circulated on YouTube and on links from Twitter to file-sharing sites.

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September 25, 2013

Westgate Attack Underscores Al Shabaab’s Battle With Jews And Israel

In an interview with Al Jazeera on Monday, Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, said that in addition to Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia, the terrorist group attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi because it is a place “where there are Jewish and American shops. So we have to attack them.”al-shabaab-symbol-al-qaeda

Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked ter­ror­ist group that claimed respon­si­bil­ity for attack­ing the West­gate mall on Sat­ur­day, has previously declared an “open bat­tle” against Israel, which it deems the “oppress­ing Zion­ist entity,” and Jew­ish inter­ests in Africa.

In 2012, Kenyan sup­port­ers of Al Shabaab published a pre­dom­i­nantly Swahili-language online ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine fea­turing English-language arti­cles that describe Jews as “the worst enemy of Islam.” The mag­a­zine, titled Gaidi Mtaani, roughly trans­lated as “Ter­ror­ism Street,” cast “the Zion­ist with their Amer­i­can part­ners” as the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the “cru­sade” in Soma­lia and crit­i­cized the Kenyan pres­i­dent for trav­el­ing to Israel to secure Israeli coop­er­a­tion for coun­tert­er­ror­ism efforts. 

gaidi-mtaani-magazine kenya-shabaab-adl

Screenshot from Gaidi Mtaani

The authors warned that they will not “dif­fer­en­ti­ate between civil­ians and com­bat­ants” and called on Kenya’s cit­i­zens to “reflect on the mag­ni­tude of what is yet to come,” cit­ing the 1998 bomb­ing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya that killed over 200 people.

Israeli inter­ests had previously been tar­geted by Al Qaeda in Kenya, includ­ing an attempt to shoot down an Israeli air­liner and an attack on an Israeli-owned resort in 2002.

In November 2009, Al Shabaab announced the establishment of Al Quds Brigade, a military unit specifically tasked with attacking Israel and freeing “Islamic holy places” from the Israelis.

See ADL’s Report: Al Shabaab’s Amer­i­can Recruits

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September 23, 2013

Al Shabaab Claims Americans Took Part In Mall Attack In Kenya

Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for attacking Nairobi’s Westgate mall on Saturday, has indicated via its Twitter account that three Americans took part in the assault that has killed over 60 people and injured over 150 others thus far.al-shabaab-recruits

Al Shabaab provided the names of the Americans on its Twitter account; Ahmed Mohamed Isse of St. Paul, Minnesota, Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid of Minneapolis, and Gen Mustafe Noorudiin of Kansas City, Missouri.

Since 2007, dozens of Americans have travelled to Somalia to fight with Al Shabaab. Many of these Americans have received weapons training alongside recruits from other countries, and have used the training to fight against the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the international forces that have backed it. At least three of these American recruits have engaged in suicide bombings in Somalia.

One such recruit from Minneapolis, 22-year-old Abidsalan Hussein Ali, was one of two suicide bombers who attacked African Union troops in October 2011. The first American Al Shabaab suicide bomber, Shirwa Ahmed, carried out a suicide bombing at the Ethiopian Consulate and the presidential palace in Hargeisa in October 2009. The second, Farah Mohamad Beledi, carried out a suicide bombing in May 2011, targeting a military base outside Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Most of the American men that have trained with Al Shabaab are believed to have been radicalized in the U.S., and have been recruited by Al Shabaab both on the Internet and in person. Omar Hammami, an American citizen from Alabama, is perhaps the most well-known American recruiter for Al Shabaab. The group disseminated online propaganda videos featuring Hammami to recruit young American men to join its insurgency.omar-hammami-twitter

Hammami was reportedly executed in Somalia last week by his former associates. Ham­mami appar­ently split with Al Shabaab over his belief that it was inter­ested only in local pol­i­tics and the fight in Soma­lia, rather than the cause of a global ”jiahd of the entire Ummah [Mus­lim nation].”

Although most of Al Shabaab’s violent acts have occurred within Somalia’s borders, it has expressed a willingness to attack outside targets. In July 2010 it committed twin bombings against targets in Uganda that killed more than 70 people, including an American aid worker. Danish intelligence officials have alleged that an attempt to kill a Danish cartoonist who printed controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 by a Somali national six months before the Uganda is linked to Al Shabaab as well.

The group has also declared an “open battle” against Israel, which it deems the “oppressing Zionist entity,” and Jewish interests in Africa. Israelis owned stores in the Westgate mall and the attack underscores Al Shabaab’s battle with Jews and Israel.

See ADL’s Report: Al Shabaab’s American Recruits

 

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