Al-Shabaab Terror Threat to U.S.

Title: Feds Issue Terror Watch For The Texas/Mexico Border
Date: May 26, 2010
Source: Fox News

The Department of Homeland Security is alerting Texas authorities to be on the lookout for a suspected member of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group who might be attempting to travel to the U.S. through Mexico, a security expert who has seen the memo tells

The warning follows an indictment unsealed this month in Texas federal court that accuses a Somali man in Texas of running a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” responsible for bringing hundreds of Somalis from Brazil through South America and eventually across the Mexican border. Many of the illegal immigrants, who court records say were given fake IDs, are alleged to have ties to other now-defunct Somalian terror organizations that have merged with active organizations like Al Shabaab, al-Barakat and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami.

In 2008, the U.S. government designated Al Shabaab a terrorist organization. Al Shabaab has said its priority is to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, on Somalia; the group has aligned itself with Al Qaeda and has made statements about its intent to harm the United States.

In recent years, American Somalis have been recruited by Al Shabaab to travel to Somalia, where they are often radicalized by more extremist or operational anti-American terror groups, which Al Shabaab supports. The recruiters coming through the Mexican border are the ones who could be the most dangerous, according to law enforcement officials.
Security experts tell that the influx of hundreds of Somalis over the U.S. border who allegedly have ties to suspected terror cells is evidence of a porous and unsecured border being exploited by groups intent on wrecking deadly havoc on American soil.

The DHS alert was issued to police and sheriff’s deputies in Houston, asking them to keep their eyes open for a Somali man named Mohamed Ali who is believed to be in Mexico preparing to make the illegal crossing into Texas. Officials believe Ali has ties to Al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organization aligned with Al Qaeda, said Joan Neuhaus Schaan, the homeland security and terrorism fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, who has seen the alert.

An indictment was unsealed in Texas federal court earlier this month that revealed that a Somali man, Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, led a human smuggling ring that brought East Africans, including Somalis with ties to terror groups, from Brazil and across the Mexican border and into Texas. 

In a separate case, Anthony Joseph Tracy, of Virginia, who admitted to having ties to Al Shabaab, is currently being prosecuted for his alleged role in an international ring that illegally brought more than 200 Somalis across the Mexican border. Prosecutors say Tracy used his Kenya-based travel business as a cover to fraudulently obtain Cuban travel documents for the Somalis. The smuggled Somalis are believed to have spread out across the United States and remain mostly at large, court records show.

Somalis are classified by border and immigration officials as “special interest” — illegal immigrants who get caught trying to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. who come from countries that are considered a high threat to the U.S., Neuhaus Schaan explained.

DHS did not respond to multiple e-mail and phone requests for comment.

In addition to the Somali immigration issue, Mexican smugglers are coaching some Middle Eastern immigrants before they cross the border – schooling them on how to dress and giving them phrases to help them look and sound like Latinos, law enforcement sources told

“There have been a number of certain communities that have noticed this, villages in northern Mexico where Middle Easterners try to move into town and learn Spanish,” Neuhaus Schaan said. “People were changing there names from Middle Eastern names to Hispanic names.”
Security experts say the push by illegal immigrants to try to fit in also could be the realization of what officials have feared for years: Latin American drug cartels are helping jihadist groups bring terrorists across the Mexican border.

J. Peter Pham, senior fellow and director of the Africa Project at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, said that for the past ten years there’s been suspicion by U.S. law enforcement that drug cartels could align with international terrorist organizations to bring would-be-jihadists into the U.S.

That kind of collaboration is already being seen in Africa, said Dr. Walid Phares, director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“Al Qaeda could easily say, “Ok, now we want your help getting these guys into the United States,” Phares said. “Eventually the federal government will pay more attention, but there is a window of time now where they can get anyone they want to get in already.”

Experts also say the DHS alert and recent court case highlights the threat of terrorists penetrating the Mexican/Texas border — and the growing threat of Somali recruitment efforts to bring Americans of Somali descent back to Somalia for jihadist training, creating homegrown terrorists.
Pham says the DHS alert comes too late. “They’re just covering themselves for the fact that DHS has been failing to date to deal effectively with this,” he said. “They’re already here.”

Michael Weinstein, a political science professor at Purdue University and an expert on Somalia, said, “In the past year, it’s become obvious that there’s a spillover into the United States of the transnational revolutionaries in Somalia.”

“It’s something that certainly has to be watched, but I don’t think it’s an imminent threat,” he said. “This has to be put in context with people smuggling — everybody and their brother is getting into the United States through Mexico; I read last week that some Chinese were crossing, it’s just a big market.”

Pham disagrees. “The real danger is ‘something along the lines of jihadist version of ‘find a classmate,’ he said, referring to Al Shabaab’s potential to set up sleeper cells in the U.S. “Most of them rely on personal referral and association. That type of social networking is not beyond their capabilities.”

Pham says the DHS alert is too little, too late.

“This is like shutting the barn door after the horses got away,” he said (Fox News, 2010).

Title: House Panel: Al-Shabaab Poses "Direct Threat" To U.S.
Date: July 27, 2011
Source: IPT

More than 40 Somalis living in America and 20 in Canada have traveled to Somalia to join the jihad waged there by the terrorist group al-Shabaab, a House Homeland Security Committee staff report finds. At least 15 of the Americans have died in al-Shabaab violence, but the whereabouts of 21 others remain unknown.

Although that violence has been limited so far to Africa, two witnesses who appeared before the committee Wednesday said the United States should consider them, and al-Shabaab, as "a direct threat to the U.S. homeland."

Al-Shabaab's recruiting success in the West is unrivaled, said committee chairman Peter King, R-N.Y. "Not al-Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad," King said in opening remarks.

The bulk of those American recruits came from the Minneapolis area. But one of the most dangerous is Omar Hammami of Daphne, Ala., a Southern Baptist convert to Islam who has promised to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden in May. "Hammami poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland with his ability to assist Shabaab, core Al Qaeda or AQAP with plots, but he also has become a source of inspiration for jihadis," the report said. "Two terror defendants in New York, Betim Kaziu and Saujah Hadzovic, were inspired to travel to Egypt for violent Islamic jihad by watching Hammami tapes."

It was the third hearing held by the committee on radicalization within the American Muslim community.

As with the previous two hearings, committee Democrats protested King's emphasis on radicalization of Muslims, rather than extremism in general. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Tex., for example, requested a hearing on right wing extremists who advocate violence and submitted a list of active American hate groups into the hearing record.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex., said he was "mystified by the controversy" and asked the four witnesses present, including St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith, whether anyone doubted the security threat posed by efforts to radicalize Muslim youth. None did.

The ranking Democrat, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, used his opening remarks to say al-Shabaab is a relatively small terrorist group. While intelligence agencies need to pay attention to it, that focus should be kept in proportion to the likelihood of the threat posed.

Al-Shabaab "does not appear to present any threat to the homeland," Thompson said.

The witnesses disagreed. Before the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, few American policy leaders saw al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as a threat to attack the United States, said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

In response to committee questions, Joscelyn noted that information found at Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound showed he was issuing directions to al-Shabaab. In addition, al-Shabaab members have been trained by al-Qaida operatives who were part of past attacks against American interests, including the 1998 attack on embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Because Somalia has no functioning central government, it is difficult for American security officials to track movement of the Americans and Canadians who traveled there, said W. Anders Folk, a former federal prosecutor who was part of a dozen cases in Minnesota involving Somali recruitment.

In the Abdulmutallab case, Folk noted, a relative even warned U.S. officials that the man might be part of a jihadist plot but he still was able to board the flight. The threat of al-Shabaab trying to get people back into the United States is "incredibly scary," he said.

Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, disagreed that the hearings' focus had a stigmatizing effect on Muslims. Rather, they "empowered" his community to speak out against recruitment by al-Shabaab.

His organization has no relationship with the Canadian branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – one of the loudest critics of the hearings –because it doesn't share the Congress' goal of combating the false narrative that the West is racist and that Islam cannot coexist with democracy.

Part of the problem, Hussen told the committee, is that many young Canadian Somalis graduate from college but find themselves unemployed or working at menial jobs.

Most of them "persevere and keep working hard" to improve their situation. "A minority of them become alienated and fall victim to a narrative that turns them against Canada and the United States – the very countries that have sustained them and also gave refuge to their parents as they fled the civil war in Somalia," he said.

This "dangerous and constant anti-Western narrative is fed to them by radicals in our community who do not hesitate to use these vulnerable youth as gun fodder in their efforts to establish a base for the al-Qaida terrorist group in Somalia," Hussen added.

Most of that radicalizing message is sent through the Internet, he said. But the recruits still need chaperones to help arrange and pay their travels. King noted that, in a guilty plea in Minnesota last week, Omer Mohamed admitted recruiting took place in mosques, among other places around Minneapolis.

Shabaab-related indictments "account for the largest number and significant upward trend in homegrown terrorism cases filed by the Department of Justice over the past two years," the staff report said, with at least 38 cases unsealed since 2009.

On July 5 in Minneapolis, "a Saudi cleric who denounced Shabaab and other Somali combatants inside the Abubakr As-Saddique Islamic Center – where most of the missing Somali-American men once congregated – was allegedly assaulted by men shouting 'Allahu Akhbar' ('God is great!')," according to the staff report.

A recording and account glorifying the assault were posted on overseas-based jihadi chat rooms before most people in Minneapolis learned of the incident. A local news report on the confrontation can be seen here.

It's possible that al-Shabaab maintains its focus on Somalia and other regional conflicts. American security officials still need to pay attention to the possibility that the group's aspirations change, and with them, its targets.

"We don't know what terrorist organizations are able to do looking forward," Folk said (IPT, 2011).

Title: Peter King's Reckless Claim Of Al-Shabaab's Menace To The US
July 31, 2011

Abstract: This past week, Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House homeland security committee, held the third in a series of highly publicised hearings on the radicalisation of Muslims in the United States and the threat they allegedly pose to the American homeland. King's focus this time around was on Americans who support al-Shabaab, an organised insurgency in Somalia known for its brutal tactics and the ruthless control it exerts over its own members. According to King, the danger this faraway rebellion poses for the United States should not be minimised: "With al-Shabaab's large cadre of American jihadis and unquestionable ties to al-Qaida, particularly its alliance with AQAP, we must face the reality that al-Shabaab is a growing threat to our homeland."

King claimed to base his findings on an investigation conducted by his staff. His conclusion was that the call of al-Shabaab has placed the American homeland in imminent peril.

Most of the criticism leveled at King has focused on his reckless use of Congress to articulate distrust and fear of Muslims in a way that upends the basic tenets of non-discrimination in the United States. But more to the point, there are numerous factual and interpretive mistakes in King's representation of the Somalia issue. These errors are worth noting, because if left uncorrected, they may propel the United States along another erroneous pathway, both at home and abroad.

First, King misrepresents the magnitude of the exodus of Americans to Somalia. King's figures are correct, but his conclusions are misleading. Since 2009, nearly 40 individuals have been indicted in the United States for providing some sort of support – or wanting to provide some sort of support – to al-Shabaab. According to the terrorism database at the Centre on Law and Security, which I direct, 20 individuals have been indicted for travelling to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, and an additional five have been indicted for attempting to travel there. Of these, 15 were US citizens. This is hardly a "large cadre of Americans".

Second, King confuses internationalist jihad with nationalist foreign insurgency. In the case of Somalia, the main imperative for fighting is not international jihad; it is the wresting of power from the group now in nominal control of the government, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The individuals who join this insurgency are most often of Somali descent and are fighting to help their former countrymen and their families in a failed state where violence, famine and chronic water shortage plague one the poorest nations on earth. In fact, contrary to King's assumptions, recent research done by Thomas Hegghammer at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment suggests that most foreign fighters do not have terrorist intentions at the outset beyond the nationalist cause they are looking to serve.

Third, King infers that tenuous links between foreign insurgency and jihadi violence will result in terrorism in the United States, once these foreign fighters return, now trained in the tactics of violence. This may, in fact, be a realistic worry for the future. But at present, the statistics show, according to the study done by Hegghammer (who is currently a fellow at the Centre on Law and Security), that "not more than one in eight foreign fighters returned to perpetrate terrorism in the west", once they have left the nationalist cause for which they were fighting abroad. As to facts on the ground in the United States, there are no Somalia returnees who have been charged with planning to attack America. On the contrary, returnees who have been indicted have been charged with attempts to recruit for the struggle abroad.

Fourth, to bolster his conflation of terrorism and nationalist struggle, King misrepresents the strength of the ties between al-Shabaab and al-Qaida. While there may be some connection between some of the leaders, al-Shabaab's mission is very much its own. According to the National Counterterrorism Centre, al-Shabaab's links to al-Qaida have not reached the organisational level; it can therefore in no way be classified as a strong partner in the al-Qaida network.

To quote from the NCC's website: "While most of [Shabaab's] fighters are predominantly interested in the nationalistic battle against the TFG and not supportive of global jihad, al-Shabaab's senior leadership is affiliated with al-Qaida, and certain extremists aligned with al-Shabaab are believed to have trained and fought in Afghanistan."

A summary report by the Council on Foreign Relations concurs: "Experts say there are links between individual al-Shabaab leaders and individual members of al-Qaida, but any organizational linkage between the two groups is weak, if it exists at all."

These exaggerations and errors suggest that King has fallen prey to three fallacies that have, unfortunately, characterised American counterterrorism policy since 9/11, generating a string of counterproductive policies. King, too, fails to distinguish between the various terrorists threats – that is, the difference posed by Americans who reach out to al-Shabaab, as opposed to AQAP; he risks playing into the worldview of al-Qaida, which is constantly trying to claim inroads into foreign struggles; and finally, he succumbs to fantasy threat-inflation rather than encouraging realistic risk-avoidance – it is one thing to be vigilant about fighters returning from Somalia and quite another to prosecute individuals merely for a desire to fight in the civil conflict there. A more feet-on-the-ground approach would begin with a simple observation: the only Somali American who attempted to commit violence against US targets was Mohamed Osman Mohamud – and he appears to have no links to al-Shabaab or their cause.

The accurate analysis of homegrown terrorism in the United States is yet to be written. But its contours would look something like this: the incidence of terrorism arrests and indictments have gone down precipitously in 2011. Yet the serious nature of terrorism arrests for domestic terrorism has risen in recent years, as illustrated notably by the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, the New York City subway bomber Najibullah Zazi and Major Hassan at Fort Hood. Somalis have not yet emerged as a group with the motivation and capacity to harm Americans at home or abroad.

It is responsible to consider the possibility of what will happen as Somali fighters are exposed to al-Qaida operatives and foreign training; it is not so to make the claim, as Peter King has, that Somali Muslims represent a real and present danger to the United States. Until the United States can have a fact-based discussion of terrorism and look towards threat management, rather than prevention strategies based on guesswork and hyperbole, the excesses of the war on terror – and the harm that it has caused to America's core values – will rage on (Guardian, 2011).

Title: Al-Shabaab: A Jihadist Threat To America
Date: September 13, 2011
Source: IPT

Abstract: The Somali jihadist organization al-Shabaab did not exist a decade ago. Today, its success in recruiting and radicalizing Muslims inside the United States has made al-Shabaab "a direct threat to the U.S. homeland," according to an investigative report by the House Homeland Security Committee.

Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, is fighting to oust the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), an "interim" regime that has served as the nominal government of Somalia since 2004. The TFG is supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military force, comprised of approximately 8,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi.

Until recently, the Somali government controlled little more than a few parts of Mogadishu, the capital, while al-Shabaab exercised control over much of southern and eastern Somalia and part of Mogadishu. But al-Shabaab has been plagued by defeats and desertions, and last month the terror group withdrew from territory it occupied in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab evolved out of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist group that went to war against the Somali government five years ago. The ICU captured Mogadishu in June 2006. By late October, the ICU had effectively encircled the TFG in Baidoa, located in south-central Somalia. The only thing preventing the city's destruction were Ethiopian soldiers defending the city.

Shortly after the ICU emerged, "hundreds of terrorists from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula arrived to train in or staff these camps," wrote Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for the Defense or Democracies. A United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia warned that the ICU "is fully capable" of turning the country into "an Iraq type scenario, replete with roadside and suicide bombers, assassinations and other forms of terrorist and insurgent-type activities."

That warning would soon appear prophetic.

Al-Shabaab's priority in 2006-07 was driving the Ethiopians out of Somalia, and its military campaign took a heavy toll on the invaders. In 2008, the foreign forces faded into obscurity, as al-Shabaab established a Sharia-based regime in Somalia.

That October, al-Shabaab carried out five suicide bombings in northern Somalia, killing 28 people. One of the killers was Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis, who became the first American suicide bomber.

Several months later, the Associated Press reported on "growing evidence" that battle-hardened jihadists had migrated from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and had begun moving into Somalia and other locations in southern Africa. The report came one month after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden called for a jihad against the Somali interim government.

After driving out the Ethiopian Army, al-Shabaab conducted terrorist operations outside Somalia's borders. In August 2009, police in Melbourne, Australia arrested five Australian nationals of Somali and Lebanese origin who were allegedly planning to attack an Australian army base with automatic weapons. The arrests came following seven months of surveillance on the suspects, who the government says were connected with al-Shabaab.

Another Shabaab-linked plot involved a Jan. 1, 2010 attack on Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who has been targeted by Islamists over his depictions of the prophet Muhammad. A Somali man linked to the terror group was convicted of attempted murder for attempting to break into Westergaard's home with an axe.

Al-Shabaab has threatened Uganda and Burundi for contributing troops for the AMISOM force, and on July 11, 2010, it bombed two locations in Kampala, Uganda where crowds had gathered to watch the World Cup soccer tournament. Seventy-six people died in the Kampala bombings, which targeted a rugby complex and an Ethiopian restaurant.

"This is only the beginning," al-Shabaab warned following the attack. The jihadist group vowed to "unleash a new tide of terror" against its enemies.

Could al-Shabaab Attack the United States?
Al-Shabaab's first threats against the United States came in 2008. In February, the group responded to reports that the United States had launched covert airstrikes against terror targets in Somalia. It vowed to give the United States "a taste of hardship in all the regions where they are present in the east and west of Somalia."

One month later, it vowed once again to attack the United States, but hinted the next attack would come outside of Somalia. Al Shabaab declared that it would take action that would make America "forget the blessed attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam" referring to the August 7, 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people including 12 Americans.

On June 1, 2008, Abu Zubeyr, the group's current leader, declared al-Qaida's intention to attack the United States.

He warned "cursed America" that future attacks would occur against America, which was conspiring to retard Muslims "economically and politically and (sic) technologically and religiously and morally."

When the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on al-Shabaab in July, ranking Democrat, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, argued that the group "does not appear to present any threat to the homeland."

Hearing witnesses disagreed.

Information found at Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound showed he was issuing orders to al-Shabaab, said Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Also, al-Shabaab members have been trained by al-Qaida operatives involved in past attacks targeting Americans. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, architect of the 1998 embassy bombing and a founder of al-Shabaab, was shot to death in June by soldiers near a Mogadishu military checkpoint.

Somalia's lack of a functioning government makes it difficult for U.S. security officials to monitor the movement of Americans and Canadians who travel to Somalia. At a 2009 hearing, then-FBI Associate Executive Assistant Director Philip Mudd downplayed the idea that al-Shabaab could pose a threat to the United States – but with one important caveat.

"I would talk in terms of tens of people, which sounds small but it's significant, because every terrorist is somebody who could potentially throw a grenade into a shopping mall," Mudd said. Information about the number of American recruits for al-Shabaab is "fuzzy," he said, because there "are thousands of people – thousands going to the Horn of Africa every month. You can go to Kenya to look at game parks, and it's hard for me to tell you if somebody's going to a game park or going to Shabaab. So, I am sure there are people out there that we're missing."

The Homeland Security Committee report found that al-Shabaab-related indictments "account for the largest number and significant upward trend in homegrown terrorism cases filed by the Department of Justice over the past two years," with at least 38 cases since 2009. Al-Shabaab "has an active recruitment and radicalization network inside the U.S. targeting Muslim-Americans in Somali communities," the report said.

At least 40 Americans have joined al-Shabaab, and at least 15 Americans have been killed while fighting alongside the group, the report said. At least 21 American al-Shabaab fighters are still at large or unaccounted for, while as many as 20 Canadians of Somali descent have disappeared and are believed to have joined al-Shabaab, according to Canadian security officials.

A Saudi cleric who denounced al-Shabaab and other Somali combatants outside the Abubakr As-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis in July was allegedly attacked by an angry mob shouting "Allahu Akhbar!" ("God is Great!"). A recording of the assault was posted on overseas jihadist chatrooms "before most in Minneapolis knew it happened," the report found.

"They glorified Allah and showered [the al-Shabaab critic] and showered him with hits and kicks," one jihadist wrote. "Next time, with permission from Allah, cut off the head of the likes of this filthy one."

One of al-Shabaab's rising combat commanders is Omar Hammami, who has vowed to avenge the killing of bin Laden in May. A native of Daphne, Ala., Hammami (AKA Abu Mansour al-Amriki,) is a convert to Islam who has been designated a terrorist by the Treasury Department. In 2009, he was indicted for providing material support for terrorism.

Hammami "poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland with his ability to assist Shabaab, core Al Qaeda or AQAP [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] with plots, but he also has become a source of inspiration for jihadis. Two terror defendants in New York, Betim Kaziu and Saujah Hadzovic, were inspired to travel to Egypt for violent Islamic jihad by watching Hammami tapes," the House report said.

Al-Shabaab has forged operation ties with AQAP in Yemen, and Shabaab operative Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was indicted in July for receiving explosives training from AQAP, and attempting to organize a weapons deal with that group.

"No Al Qaeda allied group, including core al Qaeda or the Yemen based…AQAP, has attracted anywhere near as many American and Western recruits as Shabaab over the past three years," the House report said. There "is a looming danger of American Shabaab fighters returning to the U.S. to strike or helping Al Qaeda or its affiliates attack the homeland. U.S. intelligence underestimated the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Yemen's capability of launching attacks here; we cannot afford to make the same mistake with Shabaab" (IPT, 2011).

Title: Al Shabaab In Mexico?
Date: October 18, 2011
Source: Global Post

Abstract: A Mexican radio station on Tuesday claimed it had a report that the Mexican marines had foiled a plot by the Somalian Islamic group al-Shabaab to attack the U.S. embassay in Mexico City.

MVS anchor Carmen Aristegui announced the scoop, which if confirmed would provide the strongest evidence to date that Islamic militant groups are operating in Mexico.

According to the alleged leaked report, marines raided a house in the middle-class Mexico City Roma neighborhood on 9 June, 2010 and found 22.7 kilos of explosive material along with detonators.

They had located the house — which is less than a mile from the U.S. embassy — after tracking a Somali national who worked for al-Shabaab, the report says.

It is unclear if the individual was arrested and where he currently is.

The June raid had been previously covered by the Mexican media, but Mexico’s attorney general’s office had said the material seized were not dangerous explosives.

Asked about the latest report, a press officer at the attorney general’s office said he could not immediately verify whether the new evidence was reliable.

In the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, press officers said they did not immediately have information about the foiled attack.

However, they said they had received information from Mexico’s immigration service that a Somali national with alleged links to al Shabaab had been arrested in Mexico City in April 2010. That individual was deported for entering Mexico illegally, they said.

Al-Shabaab controls large swathes of the southern parts of Somalia and has declared its allegiance to Al Qaeda.

The latest report comes amid increased concerns that radical Islamic groups will take advantage of the insecurity in Mexico, and its porous border with the U.S., to launch attacks on the United States and its allies.

Last week, U.S. officials claimed they had foiled a plot by Iranian agents to hire drug cartel gunmen to attack the Saudi ambassador the United States (Global Post, 2011).

Title: Deadly Attacks Show Al-Shabaab Expanding Its Reach, With Potential For U.S. Targets
Date: October 24, 2011
Source: Fox News

There is growing evidence that the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, known as al-Shabaab, is becoming more of a regional terrorist player, with the potential to go global as it targets U.S. citizens and interests.

"We have been getting threats from al-Shabaab against Americans and Westerners," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News when asked about a decision to warn Americans in Kenya of an imminent terrorist threat. "So it's a very dangerous, uncertain situation. And we want to be sure that whatever information we have, we immediately present to Americans who live, work or may be visiting in Kenya."

In the past day, two targets in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi were attacked with explosive devices. An explosion at a bus stop Monday evening killed at least one person and injured eight others. An earlier attack on a Nairobi night club with a grenade left 13 injured. Both incidents came after the U.S. warned that al-Shabaab would carry out retaliatory attacks after Kenyan troops entered Somalia in mid-October.

A rambling statement posted to a jihadist website purportedly from al-Shabaab promised more violence if foreign troops failed to withdraw. Although the online statement specifically mentioned troops from nearby Burundi, it seemed to underscore al-Shabaab's intention to rid Somalia of any foreign military presence.

"You now have a choice to make," the statement warned. "Either you call for the immediate withdrawal of your troops from our country or you shall receive the bodies of your remaining sons delivered to you in bags. Think long. Think hard. Think of your sons' futures."

In Washington, the State Department could not immediately comment on the latest attack or the intelligence that led to warning American citizens in Kenya to avoid crowds and malls, but department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland did not dispute that the warning was tied to al-Shabaab.

Last summer, when al-Shabaab launched suicide attacks in Uganda to coincide with the World Cup, U.S. officials questioned whether Uganda was the seminal attack, which showed the group was no longer a local player but could launch suicide bombings in other countries.

U.S. officials have consistently warned that the Al Qaeda affiliate has been adept at recruiting Western Europeans and Americans by playing off their allegiance to their native country. A new photo, from the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, purports to show an American citizen and spokesman for Al Qaeda, Abu Abdallah al-Muhajir, who recently travelled to Somalia to deliver Korans, clothing and food for victims of the drought.

Seeming to take a page out of Usama bin Laden's playbook, Alabama native Omar Hammami, first identified by Fox News as a spokesman and battlefield operative for al-Shabaab, released an audio message to his followers on Oct. 8. Hammami claimed Islam and life in the West were incompatible, and to reconcile the two is a "dream world."

In a translation by MEMRI, Hammami stresses that the life of jihad may lack modern conveniences, but it is worth the sacrifice and doesn't take long to get used to. Hammami appears to quote an American TV commercial, another nod to his Alabama upbringing, when he says, "If I can do it, you can do it too."

Also known as al-Amriki, which translates as the American, Hammami says the life of the fighter "is not what you see in movies." And appearing confident in his own security, Hammami seems to bait the U.S. intelligence community that monitors the Horn of East Africa. He mocks the "incompetence" of agents claiming that "They always seem to recruit the dumbest of spies to do their dirty work."

Nearly two dozen Americans of Somali descent have disappeared into the al-Shabaab camps since 2007. Last week, two Minneapolis women who claimed they were helping the poor were convicted of providing money to the terrorist group. And Minneapolis native Shirwa Ahmed was the first documented case of an American suicide bomber when he blew himself up as part of al-Shabaab operation in Northern Somalia in late 2007.

U.S. officials tell Fox News that al-Shabaab and the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which was behind the last two major plots involving planes against the United States, are now working together -- sharing training and bomb-making techniques. It is creating what one analyst described as an arc of instability that now stretches from Yemen and Somalia in the east, to North Africa and west to Nigeria where a little known Islamist group called Boko Haram has increasingly adopted Al Qaeda tactics, including car bombs (Fox News, 2011).

American Carried Out Somalia Suicide Bombing, Islamists Claim
Date: October 30, 2011
Source: CNN

A suicide bomber who carried out an attack in Somalia this weekend was an American citizen of Somali descent, a website associated with the Al-Shabaab Islamist movement claimed Sunday.

The website named the bombers as Aden al-Ansari and Cabdi Salaam al-Muhajir, and posted what it said was an audio interview with al-Muhajir speaking American-accented English.

The speaker urges his "brothers and sisters" to "do jihad" in America, Canada, England, "anywhere in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in China, in Australia, anywhere you find kuffar," a derogatory term for non-Muslims.

The African Union force trying to establish order in Somalia said there had been an attack Saturday involving two suicide bombers in the capital Mogadishu, but said AU troops "beat off" the attack by "al-Qaeda linked terrorists."

Al-Shabaab is associated with al Qaeda and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. The African Union military spokesman in the country did not immediately respond to a CNN question about the identity of the bombers or whether any AU troops were injured.

Omar Jamal, a Somali diplomat at the United Nations, identified the person who made the audio recordings as Abdisalam Ali of Minneapolis. He told CNN that friends of Ali had listened to the messages in English and Somali and were "convinced it is him."

The discrepancy in names may mean that the name released by Al-Shabaab is a nom de guerre.

Jamal said Abdisalam left Minneapolis on November 4, 2008, with another man, Burhan Hassan, who has since been killed.

Kyle Loven, an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis, told CNN, "We're aware of the reporting but not able to confirm any IDs at this time."

In the Somali-language interview that Al-Shabaab released, the speaker says he has been fighting with the group for two years and killed "many infidels" with his own hands.

Jamal said this weekend's bombing was the third time a Minnesota Somali-American had carried out a suicide bombing in Somalia.

The previous two were Shirwa Ahmed, 27, who was the first confirmed American suicide bomber in U.S. history, and Farah Mohamed Beledi, also 27.

Ahmed killed himself and 29 others in the fall of 2008. The FBI identified Beledi as one of two suicide bombers responsible for killing two African Union soldiers in Somalia in May.

In recent years, approximately 20 young men -- most of them Somali-Americans -- have traveled from the Minneapolis area to Somalia to train with Al-Shabaab, and a number of them have gone on to fight with the terrorist organization, U.S. officials said.

And this month, a federal jury found two Minnesota women guilty of raising money for Al-Shabaab.

According to the federal indictment, Amina Farah Ali, 35, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 64, of Rochester, Minnesota, solicited funds in ways that included going door-to-door "under the false pretense that the funds were for the poor and needy."

The two were charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Ali was also found guilty of 12 other counts including sending more than $8,000 in 2008 and 2009 (CNN, 2011).

Title: FBI Seeks Evidence American Man Was Behind Suicide Attack In Somalia
Date: October 31, 2011
Source: Fox News

Abstract: The FBI is working to obtain the remains of a suicide bomber in Somalia, to try to determine whether he was one of at least 21 young Somali-American men believed to have left Minneapolis in recent years to join the terrorist group al-Shabab.

If the remains are confirmed to belong to Abdisalan Hussein Ali, it will mark the third time someone from Minnesota has been involved in a suicide attack in Somalia.

"I don't understand," said Nimco Ahmed, a Somali community activist in Minnesota, home to the nation's largest Somali population. "It's really, really painful to actually see one of the kids who has a bright future ahead of them do this. ... It's a loss for our whole society."

Al-Shabab said over the weekend that Abdisalan Taqabalahullaah, whom they identified as a Somali-American, carried out the suicide attack Saturday against an African Union base in Mogadishu. The attack killed 10 people, including the two suicide bombers, a Mogadishu-based security official said.

The militia group posted online a recording purported to be Taqabalahullaah, calling on others to carry out a jihad. Omar Jamal, first secretary of the Somali mission to the United Nations, said friends of Abdisalan Hussein Ali listened to the recording and identified the voice as Ali's.

But other friends told Minnesota Public Radio News the voice is not Ali's, saying his English doesn't match the man's on the recording.

E.K. Wilson, the supervisory special agent who oversees the FBI's investigation in Minneapolis, said the agency is in the process of trying to obtain DNA samples for testing.

Ali, a U.S. citizen known by friends in Minneapolis as "Bullethead," was 19 when he left Minnesota in November 2008. He had graduated from Edison High School in Minneapolis the year before. At the time of his disappearance, his family told reporters he was studying health care at the University of Minnesota.

At the Ali family's apartment building in Minneapolis on Monday, a woman who identified herself as Ali's older sister but declined to give her name said the family knew only what it had seen in the news. They hadn't heard from Abdisalan or anyone else in Somalia, she said.

According to a missing persons report filed in his case, Ali's mother and a cousin told police he left his home on the morning of Nov. 4, 2008, to pray and go to school -- as was his normal routine -- but never returned. Ali's car was left at his house, and his cell phone had been turned off, the report said. Police reported that "for an unknown reason" the family thought Ali might have left Minnesota by plane.

Authorities said Ali and five other young men left Minneapolis in early November 2008. Ali went to Somalia, according to a July 2010 indictment that charges him with five counts, including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Over the past three years, Minnesota has been the center of a federal investigation into the recruitment of people from the U.S. to train or fight with al-Shabab in Somalia, which hasn't had a functioning government since 1991.

Shirwa Ahmed, 26, of Minneapolis, became the first known American suicide bomber in Somalia when he blew himself up in October 2008 in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland, as part of a series of coordinated explosions that killed 21 people. On May 30 of this year, Farah Mohamed Beledi, 27, of St. Paul, was one of two suicide bombers who carried out an attack in Mogadishu. Beledi was shot before he could detonate his suicide vest (Fox News, 2011).

Title: World Ranks Of Somali Terror Group Swelling With Foreign Fighters, Including Americans, Official Says
November 17, 2011
Fox News

Abstract: About 750 to 1,000 foreign fighters, including American citizens, are now swelling the ranks of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, a senior Kenyan military official tells Fox News.

The group, known as Al-Shabaab, has taken advantage of the Arab Spring to further cement its relationship with the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, the Kenyan military official added.

Amplifying the point, Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s ambassador and permanent representative to the Kenya Mission at the United Nations, said that the two Al Qaeda affiliates appear to be on the verge of a fully integrated operation.

“We have the bodies to prove it in Mogadishu (the Somali Capital),” Kamau told Fox News, referring to the suicide car bombings. “Unquestionably, the training capabilities are international and the funding behind these training capabilities are international.”

Fox News has learned that in addition to training recruits in Somalia, Al Qaeda in Yemen, which is behind the last two major plots against the U.S. involving aircraft, has begun sharing bomb-making techniques with Al-Shabaab.

This is significant because the Yemeni Al Qaeda affiliate's Saudi bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is considered a top target by U.S. intelligence because he has developed explosives that defy traditional airline security screening. Al-Asiri was behind the underwear bomb in 2009 and the cargo printer bombs last fall that were designed to bring down cargo planes over the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Kamau said there was no convincing evidence that efforts to deter U.S. citizens from joining Al Shabaab have been successful. At least two dozen Americans, mostly of Somali descent, have joined Al-Shabaab since 2007. An Alabama native, Omar Hammami, who is under indictment in the U.S. for allegedly supporting Al Qaeda, is the public face of Al-Shabaab for the West through online videos and lectures.

Kenyan officials say the presence of Americans on the ground in Somalia is making conditions worse. There are now at least three documented cases of American suicide bombers in Somalia, and a fourth case is suspected. A month ago, Kenya began an aggressive military push into Somalia to contain Al-Shabaab.

“American citizens makes the situation even more complex because you are bringing a level of competence and training that normally is not found in some of these small communities in some of these failed states," Kamau said.

As for the number of foreign jihadists and the threat they present, Kamau added, “It has definitely not reduced ... the actual suicide bombers are sometimes from America or from Sweden ... where they have some of these tentacles linking back to it.”

Kenya officials say that almost a third of the council that runs Al-Shabaab is “tied up with Al Qaeda elements,” adding that “the leadership, the strategic thinking ... and the funding is tied up in the same Al Qaeda elements that are spread in many other parts of the world," including Yemen and potentially as far afield as Afghanistan.

A strategic priority is the Somali port city of Kismayo, which is seen as the main supply route for Al-Shabaab and other extremists elements in the Horn of Africa. The Kenyan ambassador said his country wants to see a naval blockade which will require international help. And while grateful for American support, given the current economic climate, Kamau said other nations whose strategic national security interests are at stake in the Horn of Africa should also bear the responsibility.

Asked if Somalia is on the verge of becoming an Al Qaeda safe haven from which it will try to launch global operations, the ambassador said, “Without a doubt. Absolutely. The evidence of that is clear. I’m sure your own intelligence agencies (U.S. intelligence services) here are aware of it. We (the Kenyans) are aware of it. ... The countries that surround Somalia are aware of it. We are all trying to respond appropriately.”

While U.S. officials put the number of foreign fighters in Somalia at about 500 and slightly more in Yemen, they do not dispute that both affiliates are on the upswing when compared to Al Qaeda core in Pakistan that has only “several hundred” fighters.

“While Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan is weaker now than it ever has been, the initiative in the organization and attention of foreign fighters is shifting to their affiliates in Yemen and the Horn of Africa," a U.S. official told Fox News. Al Qaeda in Yemen and Al-Shabaab “are threats no one is taking lightly.”

While Al-Shabaab has launched attacks outside of Somalia in Kenya and Uganda, the intelligence community questions whether the group will remain a regional player or whether it will truly go global by launching international plots. Al-Shabaab has not so far. One lingering concern is that Americans, with clean passports and clean backgrounds, who train with Al-Shabaab can eventually return to the U.S.

Asked whether it is only a matter of time before Al-Shabaab becomes a global player for Al Qaeda, Kenya’s U.N. ambassador framed his response carefully.

“The next 12 months are critical, “ Kamau said. “It depends how successful we are on the ground. And what support we get from the international community. If we are successful, then we should hope that we should succeed and that should not happen. And if we fail, on the other hand, which we hope we don’t, it is hard to tell what the repercussions will be for everyone” (Fox News, 2011).

Title: US Offers Bounty For Somali Militants
Date: June 7, 2012
VOA News

Abstract: The United States is offering a new set of rewards for information on the whereabouts of leaders of the Somali militant group al-Shabab. 

U.S. Rewards for al-Shabab Leaders:
1. $7 million: Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed, operational commander
2. $5 million: Ibrahim Haji Jama, key leader from Somaliland who helped form Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin
3. $5 million: Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, dual Swedish-Somali national who has raised funds and helped direct attacks
4. $5 million: Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, military commander and coordinator for al-Qaida operations in Somalia

5. $5 million: Mukhtar Robow, spokesperson and spiritual leader
6. $3 million: Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, head of intelligence
7. $3 million: Abdullahi Yare, head of media operations

-Source: U.S. Rewards for Justice program

​ ​The State Department announced the rewards Thursday through its Rewards for Justice program, marking the first time a specific premium has been placed on the heads of top members of al-Shabab, which the United States considers a terrorist group.

The U.S. is offering up to $7 million for al-Shabab's operational leader Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed. Separate rewards of up to $5 million each were offered for four of his top associates -- Ibrahim Haji Jama, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, and Mukhtar Robow.

Rewards of up to $3 million were also offered for two other top members of the group, Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi and Abdullahi Yare.

Roland Marchal, a leading al-Shabab expert, said that the bounty may be aimed at weakening the organization and buying intelligence. But he adds that many of those on the list are not influential in the group's current operations.

"They are well known outside the organization," he said. "But I doubt, for the little I know, they are very influential inside."

The State Department said the group is responsible for the killing of thousands of Somali civilians, Somali peace activists, international aid workers, journalists and African Union peacekeepers.

It called al-Shabab's activities a threat to the stability of East Africa and to the national security interests of the United States.

The U.S. placed al-Shabab on its list of terrorist organizations in 2008. The militant group has been linked to terrorist attacks in Somalia and Uganda.

Al-Shabab once controlled much of Somalia and nearly all of the capital, Mogadishu, but lost most of its territory during an 18-month offensive involving African Union forces, the Somali government, Ethiopia and Kenya 
(VOA News, 2012).