The Pentagon confirmed the death of senior Al Shabab operative Adnan Garaar by a drone strike. Garaar was believed to be the mastermind behind the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, which left 67 dead.
The strike against Garaar took place in southern Somalia, about 150 miles west of Mogadishu. The Department of Defense said in a statement that Garaar’s death “has dealt another significant blow to the al-Shabab terrorist organisation in Somalia.”
Al Shabab, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, released a video last month calling for Muslims to attack malls and other public targets in the West and specifically named the Mall of America in Minnesota, as well as locations in Canada and the United Kingdom. The six minute video showed graphic images of the attack of the Westgate Mall, with members of Al Shabab celebrating afterwards.
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Al Shabab released a video in 2013 bragging about the number of Somali young people it was recruiting from Minnesota: the state has largest population of Somalis in the United States. The Washington Times reports that over two dozen men from Minnesota had traveled to Somalia to take up arms with Al Shabab, which is why officials took the threat against the Mall of America seriously.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar pointed out that the Somalis have helped in policing their own:
We are proud of our Somali community in Minnesota. We have half the Somalis in the country in Minnesota. They have helped us with these cases … the Somalis in our community, they are serving in elected office, they are running businesses. They are part of a fabric of life in the community and also part of the solution.