The militant Islamist group al-Shabab that claimed responsibility for killing at least 72 people at a Kenyan shopping mall has recruited "dozens of Americans" to join its ranks, according to Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism.
"They've recruited dozens of Americans, we don't know the exact number, and an even larger number of Europeans," Emerson told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"And these are not just ex-Somali, ex-patriots, but these are white converts who still have their American or European passports which allow them to go back into their home countries with impunity."
Last Saturday, heavily armed gunmen stormed the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in an assault that lasted three days. More than 72 people were killed and at least 200 were wounded.
Al-Shabab, which means "Movement of Striving Youth" and has been identified as a terrorist organization by numerous countries, claimed credit.
"This was a seminal moment for al-Shabab ... They knew this was an upscale international mall that would involve foreigners being killed," Emerson said.
"They specifically targeted non-Muslims, selecting Muslims out, saying if you're Muslim, you will not be killed. That wasn't reported, by the way, in The New York Times or The Washington Post."
Emerson is alarmed at the increase of extremists in the United States.
He said that at the Muslim Day Parade in New York City on Monday, "there were people there with al-Qaida flags, with jihad flags.
"This was not your typical ethnic day celebration, like Italian Day or Israel Day or Irish Day. This had a particular political dent to it and it was radical."
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