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Americans joining terrorist groups in Somalia
The official, in a background briefing with reporters on Tuesday evening, said this is something “we have watched very, very closely.”
Al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Sunday that claimed the lives of 76 people, including one American.
The official said U.S. law enforcement is “very vigilant for any indication of individuals from Somalia coming here to the United States to engage in these types of extremist and terrorist activities.”
“Al Shabab was very much on our radar screen… but we didn’t have any advance warning about that attack,” the official said.
New Mexico-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is the most high-profile of U.S. citizens to have joined al Qaeda. He is affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and is believed to be based in Yemen.
“These links between the organizations have existed for quite some time,” the senior U.S. official said, adding, “[Al Shabab‘s] agenda is very similar to al Qaeda’s agenda. It advances a distorted and perverted version of Islamic goals.”
The official said there is a “blending together of these different individuals who are at the top of these organizations” and they are bringing young Somalis and others who are engaged in local conflicts into the al Qaeda orbit.
The group has a domestic agenda that is focused on overthrowing the government in Somalia.
Al Shabab has been responsible for deadly attacks on a number of Somali peace activists, journalists and the African Union’s peacekeeping mission, which has lost about 35 soldiers since 2007.
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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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