US & Canada

Nairobi attack: US-Somalis decry shopping centre bloodshed

Imams and Muslims speak out against extremism in the Nairobi shopping mall attack, at the Abubakar As-Saddique in Minneapolis on 23 September 2013
Image caption Officials at the Islamic centre deny anyone has been recruited for al-Shabab at their mosque

US-Somalis in Minnesota have condemned the Nairobi shopping centre attack, after Kenyan officials said one or two of the suspected al-Shabab militants involved were from the US state.

In the city of Minneapolis, mosque leaders said such violence had nothing to do with Islam.

Minnesota is thought to be home to about 70,000 people of Somali origin.

The FBI says at least 20 young men from the US state have gone to Somalia since 2007 to join al-Shabab.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said on Monday that two or three Americans were involved in the attack.

The Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived "in Minnesota and one other place" in the US, she said.

US officials have said they are looking into the claim.

'Criminals not Muslims'

Somali religious leaders spoke out against the Kenya attack during a news conference in Minneapolis on Monday afternoon at the state's largest mosque, the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Centre.

"This kind of activity, killing innocent people, has no base or any relationship with Islam," Abdirizak Hashi, an imam, was quoted as saying by the Star-Tribune newspaper.

"Al-Shabab and these people, they are criminals. They are not Muslims," Ibrahim Baraki, another imam, was quoted by KMSP-TV as saying.

"They may have our name and look. They have deviated from the teaching of Islam: save life, not destroy life."

After the press conference, leaders at the Islamic centre deflected questions from reporters about young men allegedly having been radicalised at the place of worship.

In recent years, officials at the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Centre have repeatedly denied that any recruitment for al-Shabab has taken place at the mosque.

Meanwhile, in New York City on Monday trial proceedings were under way against three men of Somali descent who face federal terrorism charges over alleged ties to al-Shabab.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn describe the defendants - Ali Yasin Ahmed, Madhi Hashi and Mohamed Yusuf - as "dangerous and influential" members of al-Shabab who were part of an elite unit of suicide bombers.

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