The deadly attack at a Nairobi, Kenya, shopping mall
was likely carried out by the al-Shabab Islamist organization and shows how terror groups linked with al-Qaida are expanding on an international level, New York Republican Rep. Peter King said Sunday.
This is one of the "only al-Qaida affiliates which has activity here in the United States," King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
"I would assume that local law enforcement are looking into Somalia-American communities today," King said, noting that there have been some Somalia-Americans trained by al-Shabab, and law enforcement will need to ensure a similar attack won't happen on American soil.
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The lawmaker has been briefed on the attack, in which non-Muslim men, women and children were targeted, leaving at least 59 dead.
"This shows the really growing influence of al-Qaida in Africa," King said. For years, the State Department did not want to declare al-Shabab a terrorist organization. They thought it was focusing on tribal issues. Now, we see, there is certainly an international dimension to them."
King said the organization is also working closely in Nigeria and Yemen, as "very significant terrorist groups are showing a capacity to attack outside of their borders and recruit people from here in the United States."
King said the attack shows terrorism in the region is coming full circle, with one of the first major attacks on the United States coming in Kenya on embassies in 1988.
He termed the mall shootings as "a really coordinated horrific massacre."
"They attacked at the busiest time of the week, the busiest time of the day," said King. "They knew what they were doing; they took the hostages. This is very similar to Mumbai and showing al-Qaida and its affiliates are still extremely powerful and still able to really strike terror into the hearts of people by attacking at shopping malls."
And if reports are true, King said, "they were allowing Muslims to leave and focusing on non-Muslims — they're making this part of their Jihadist war."
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