Kenya’s foreign minister believes two or three Americans are involved in the mall attack in Nairobi that left at least 62 dead.
Security forces are still searching the Westgate Mall for Islamist militants, but they believe all the hostages have been released.
Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab said Tuesday their militants are still standing their ground in the shopping mall.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told “PBS NewsHour” that two or three American militants, “young men, about between maybe 18 and 19” were of Arab or Somali origin. She said they previously lived “in Minnesota and one other place.”
Minneapolis-St. Paul has one of the biggest Somali populations outside Mogadishu, the Daily Beast reported.
The State Department is investigating the claim that Americans were involved, but it is unlikely that U.S. counterintelligence will know for sure until the siege is over. A U.S. counterterrorism source told Daily Beast that there is “increasing fear” that Americans were involved.
Since 2007, community leaders have been wary of active Al-Shabab recruitment at mosques there. They believe two dozen Somali youths have been lured to jihadist training camps abroad.
Security forces believe one of the militants was a British widow, who had “done this many times before,” Mohamed said.
According to Reuters, security officials said a white women was among the militants killed, but they did not confirm if she was in fact Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of an al-Shabab-linked British terrorist.
Referred to as the “White Widow” by the media, Lewthwaite was tied to the 2005 bombing in London subway that killed 26 people. Her husband was accused in the attack, but she told the press that radical mosques had “poisoned his mind.”
Once the pressure was off, she disappeared from England. Last year, she was known to be in Kenya.
“At the time of the 7/7 bombings, the impression was that she disapproved and was highly critical of her husband's action,” said BBC journalist Peter Taylor.
“Then she disappeared off the radar and turns up again in Kenya. It would appear she became involved with al-Shabab to fight jihad as her husband believed he was doing when he bombed the Tube.”