Rumors swirl of Minn. man's involvement in Kenya mall attack - KMSP-TV

Rumors swirl of Minn. man's involvement in Kenya mall attack

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Kenya's president is claiming victory over the terrorists who stormed the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, but the question of whether or not a Minnesota man was involved in the attack appears no closer to an answer.

On Tuesday, authorities announced five of the attackers were killed and 11 were captured. Those men now remain in custody, and the FBI and CIA are now on the ground in Nairobi, working to match up fingerprints with known al-Shabaab recruits -- including those from Minnesota.

Yet, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also said there is no hard evidence that American Somalis were involved in the attack, contradicting what his foreign minister said on Monday.

While Kenya is half a world away, the impact of the violence was felt by many in the Twin Cities. They say when it rains in Mogadishu, people grab their umbrellas in Minnesota because the community bond is that strong. Although the mall massacre unfolded in Nairobi, many metro Somalis who look at Kenya as a second home felt like they were caught in a hurricane.

"We spent our lives [in Kenya] before we got here as refugees," Halima Yusuf explained. "They've been very good to us."

Yusuf told FOX 9 News that for mothers like her -- refugees who came to America through the Kenyan refugee camps -- the bloodshed feels like an attack on two homelands, especially when the men who come equipped with satellite trucks describe her neighborhood as "a breeding ground for jihadists."

"I heard the news on CNN -- 'al-Shabaab in Minnesota,'" Yusuf continued "It hurts, and it hurts a lot."

As the fingers start to point at Minnesota, the name of one particular young man who left the state in 2008 among a second wave of al-Shabaab keeps circulating within the Somali community; however, there has been no official confirmation.

An FBI alert was sent out to local law enforcement agencies on Tuesday to warn of a threat from al-Shabaab; however, it did not advise any changes to security at local malls.

"It is more dangerous now, not less," Omar Jamal told FOX 9 News.

In the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, FOX 9 News spoke with many Somali-Americans who unequivocally condemned al-Shabaab and the terror attack and expressed concerns about backlash. Yet, no one has taken on al-Shabaab quite like Jamal.

"They tried to shut me down," he said. "I've received threatening phone calls, and they do the same to everyone else."

Long before the imams in the metro gathered to condemn the attack, the former diplomat said public statements can come at a great cost.

Another local leader, Dahir Jabreel, was at the Westgate Mall when the attack began -- and that serves as a reminder that this community is among the victims and is not the perpetrator.

Several mothers from the area plan to hold a rally at the Brian Coyle Center on Friday at 2 p.m.

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