WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. congressman said Sunday the Somali militant group that attacked a shopping center in Kenya this weekend could have operatives in the United States.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC's "This Week" he had been briefed by officials some two years ago that al-Shabaab had recruited as many as 50 Somali-Americans for likely nefarious reasons.
"I would assume that the FBI and local law enforcement are looking into those Somalia-American communities today ... using all their sources and resources to make sure there's no follow-up attempt here in the United States," said King.
King said the Kenyan mall siege proved al-Shabaab had taken the next step in its evolution into a truly international terrorist threat and partner of al-Qaida rather than being focused solely on overthrowing the government of Somalia.
"This is clearly an attack to terrorize and murder innocent civilians," King said, adding, "They are making this part of their jihadist war."
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli told ABC it was likely the American military command in Africa was busy looking for new clues and intelligence into al-Shabaab as the shopping center siege continued.
"Intelligence has been gathered and will continue to be gathered to fill in any holes that we have about what happened in this particular attack and what could happen in the future," Chiarelli said.