Terrorist group claims Twin Cities men among attackers at Kenya mall

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The terrorist group that says it's behind the deadly siege of a shopping mall in Kenya claims two of the attackers are Twin Cities men, although the report has been called into question.

As NBC reports, officials emphasize the investigation into the ongoing incident is in its early stages and the claims made by al-Shabab were not immediately confirmed.

But in a Twitter feed that was subsequently shut down, al-Shabab reportedly identified nine men involved in the attack that killed at least 68 people. The names included Ahmed Mohamed Isse, 22, of St. Paul, and Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid, 24, of Minneapolis.

The report has been called into question. The Star Tribune reports that Jason Straziuso, an Associated Press correspondent in East Africa, tweeted that the names were not real and had come from a fake Twitter account.

NBC's report says the Kenyan military pushed to recapture the mall on Sunday. While most hostages had been freed, some were still being held. President Obama contacted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and pledged support for the effort to bring the attackers to justice.

In the past, al-Shabab leaders have vowed to hit U.S. targets, and ABC reports officials in this country are concerned their American recruits could help the terrorist group accomplish that goal.

Minneapolis has been fertile recruiting ground for al-Shabab. Last month the group released a video featuring three Minnesotans encouraging young men to join the group in its Somalia campaign. By the time the video was released, all three had been killed -- "martyred," in al-Shabab's parlance -- in terrorist attacks.

The FBI says Minneapolis has been the site of one of the largest efforts to recruit U.S. fighters to a terrorist group, with more than 20 leaving the city to join al-Shabab since 2007. Last spring one Minneapolis man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding a terrorist group.

KARE 11 talks to Abdirizak Bihi, a Minneapolis community activist, who says propaganda videos and recruiters target Somali youth in Minnesota lost between cultures.

But Bihi tells KARE that the names of the two men, Keenadiid and Isse, were not listed in a database he keeps of missing Somali youth believed to be recruited by al-Shabab.

Census numbers show more than 85,000 Somalis live in the Twin Cities area, which NBC says is second only to Mogadishu among metropolitan areas.

On Sunday the uncle of one of the young Minneapolis men killed in Somalia told CNN the community must work to counteract the propaganda of terrorist recruiters. "What we have learned for the last five years is we have to speak out against this," Abdirizak Bihi said.

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