Nightly News   |  September 23, 2013

Terror group al Shabaab pushed to recruit Americans

Al Shabaab was blamed for two bombings in the capital of Uganda two years ago that killed 75 people, and attacks against the government of Somalia. The group has tried to entice westerners to join, but the Somali-American community has made efforts to stop their recruitment. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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

>> mall was filled with upscale shops and familiar brand names frequented by customers from all over the world who now call nairobi home. as kenya has done well the city became something of an international hub in africa. a lot of big fortune 500 companies, big american names have regional headquarters there. companies like citigroup, coca-cola, g, google, ibm, mastercard, visa. that along with the big u.n. presence there means a lot of americans live there. many of them under heavy protection.

>>> tonight, as we mentioned, law enforcement officials in this country are looking into claims that americans were involved in committing this attack in kenya. the terrorist group al shabaab made it a pirariority to recruit americans . pete joins us from the d.c. newsroom.

>> reporter: two internet postings claim to be from al shabaab . they named six americans they claim were among the mall attackers but officials say those names don't appear on any terror watch lists . al shabaab has pushed hard to get american peoples into its ranks. until he was killed this month he was the face of the terror group al shabaab , omar hamami. president of his sophomore class in high school . he went to somalia seven years ago to join up.

>> the only reason we are staying here, away from our families, away from the cities, away from, you know, ice, candy bars , other things is because we are waiting to meet with the enemy.

>> reporter: reports from somalia say he was kill bid a rival al shabaab faction two weeks ago, one of roughly 50 americans , most with somali connections officials say have joined in the past seven years. three died as suicide bombers. many were recruited from the community in minneapolis where al shabaab considered americans a prize.

>> it would be a perfect place to lure people.

>> reporter: the group produced videos to entice more americans and other westerners to join.

>> you are with the best of the brothers and sisters who came here for the sake of allah.

>> reporter: the number of americans leaving here to join has fallen off thanks in part to effort s by somalis in the u.s.

>> the somali-american community has been instrumental tall in clamping down on the flow of both people and funds to al shabaab .

>> reporter: they have concentrated attacks against the government in somalia but was blamed for two the bombings two years ago that killed 75 people in uganda. no americans have been involved in attacks outside somalia . in minneapolis today at a mosque islamic leaders condemned the attack.

>> the safety and security of the united states is of utmost importance to the somali somali-american community and we will be at the forefront of defeating extremism.

>> reporter: police in new york stepped up security at some locations but they say that's not the only answer.

>> the united states has the ability to gather intelligence information that i think protects us to even a greater extent than having uniformed police officers .

>> reporter: as for whether any americans were involved in the mall shooting u.s. officials say they won't know until it is all over and the kenyan authorities have positive ohly identified the attackers, brian.

>> pete williams in our d.c.