In an interview with Al Jazeera on Monday, Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, said that in addition to Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia, the terrorist group attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi because it is a place “where there are Jewish and American shops. So we have to attack them.”
Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that claimed responsibility for attacking the Westgate mall on Saturday, has previously declared an “open battle” against Israel, which it deems the “oppressing Zionist entity,” and Jewish interests in Africa.
In 2012, Kenyan supporters of Al Shabaab published a predominantly Swahili-language online terrorist magazine featuring English-language articles that describe Jews as “the worst enemy of Islam.” The magazine, titled Gaidi Mtaani, roughly translated as “Terrorism Street,” cast “the Zionist with their American partners” as the beneficiaries of the “crusade” in Somalia and criticized the Kenyan president for traveling to Israel to secure Israeli cooperation for counterterrorism efforts.
The authors warned that they will not “differentiate between civilians and combatants” and called on Kenya’s citizens to “reflect on the magnitude of what is yet to come,” citing the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya that killed over 200 people.
Israeli interests had previously been targeted by Al Qaeda in Kenya, including an attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner and an attack on an Israeli-owned resort in 2002.
In November 2009, Al Shabaab announced the establishment of Al Quds Brigade, a military unit specifically tasked with attacking Israel and freeing “Islamic holy places” from the Israelis.
See ADL’s Report: Al Shabaab’s American Recruits