Nightly News   |  September 22, 2013

Terror group claims Americans aided in Kenyan attack

The FBI is investigating terrorist group al-Shabab’s claim that five Americans helped them attack a Kenyan mall. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> pete williams and nbc news counter terrorism analyst, the former director of the national counter terrorism center. let's begin with you, pete. what are you hearing in.

>> members of the terror group behind the attack claim that at least six people involved in the shooting are americans . from minnesota, kansas, arizona, illinois and maine and they've named names. at this point there is simply no way to know whether these claims are true. the senior fbi official says law enforcement authorities in the u.s. are actively looking into them. the first step is checking with their families here on their whereabouts. even finding out they're overseas or missing doesn't mean they were part of the shooting. that answer can only come once it is all over and the attackers are identified. for at least a decade, americans have been joining up with them headed to somalia to fight government there but dozens of others have joined up from other states.

>> and let me turn to michael to ask what this organization has in this country. here in new york we're watching security stepped up for the beginning of the united nations general assembly . this was a low tech attack. do they have the capability and desire to attack the u.s.?

>> as pete said, the u.s. intelligence community has been focused on americans going since about 2007 . and there have been several dozen americans who have gone there and those have been the individuals we've been most concerned about because of their ability to travel to the west and their knowledge of the west. the organization has not proven itself terribly capable of launching terrorist attacks outside of the region, although it is responsible for the 2010 world cup bombing in uganda and other plotting toward london. so at this point, i think the precautions that you see in new york and elsewhere are really just that. the organization although able to strike in kenya, probably is not well positioned to do so far away from that region.

>> thank you.