WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- They are living among us. Young American men are being recruited into a gory life of violence and bloodshed by the terror group claiming to be responsible for this weekend's bloody Kenyan mall massacre, al-Shabaab.
The group is claiming responsibility for 62 deaths, and 175 hurt in a terror spree in a place where most should feel safe. Now we're finding out three of the 15 or so gunmen who took the Westgate mall in Nairobi under siege are allegedly three Americans.
An al-Shabaab recruitment video shows a leader boasting: "If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here, it's the real Disneyland." That could be, if your idea of fun is gunfire, murder, hostages and pools of blood. Al Shabaab has claimed that 3 of the bullet-blazing jihadists responsible for the Nairobi mall massacre are from right here in the U.S., specifically St, Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The twin cities are home to the largest Somali population in the country and a target for recruiters. Since 2007, the FBI says about 20 Americans have fled to join Al Shabaab.
Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali leader in Minnesota, says that number is actually much higher. His nephew, Burhan Hassan, was recruited from Minnesota to Somalia, then killed, "It's not about heaven, it's not about ideology, it's about engaging a young man who is lost. They hold his hand, they take him to the mosque, they raise him, they indoctrinate him, they blame everything he's complaining about on the infidel. They give him a target.
This is such a problem that anti-recruitment videos pop up to educate young Somali men.
"Shabaab has not limited itself to Minneapolis, St Paul."
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is an expert on terrorist radicalization for the Foundation for defense of democracies.
He says al-Shabaab hasn't limited itself to Minneapolis or St Paul,
"I don't know of any Shabaab recruiting in Washington, DC, some other jihadist groups have tried to recruit from the area the predominant example is the Northern Virginia 5, but for Shabaab I'm not aware of anything," he said.
Even though there are no known recruits here, there have been several from Alabama, Maine, Missouri, and it's said the last Somali recruit left Minnesota, sometimes referred to as the jihadist pipeline, just 13 days ago, so it's still going on.