One of the Islamist militants who stormed an upscale shopping mall here on Saturday wore a white turban, witnesses said, while others wore black head scarves. Most were in civilian clothes, but a few donned camouflage fatigues. Some carried sophisticated machine guns, and others wielded the AK-47 rifles widely used by African insurgents. Most of the extremists who seized the mall were young and barked orders in English.
There has been considerable speculation about the identity of the militants and how they managed to pull off a sophisticated assault that killed at least 62 people and kept security forces at bay. Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said Monday that “two or three Americans” and “one Brit” were among the perpetrators of the attack.
She said in an interview with PBS Newshour that the Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived “in Minnesota and one other place” in the United States. The British jihadist was a woman who has “done this many times before,” Mohamed said.
U.S. officials said Monday that they were pressing to determine whether any of the assailants were American.
“But at this point we have no definitive evidence of the nationalities or identities of the perpetrators,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
On Sunday, Twitter postings purportedly from al-Shabab described several of the jihadists as American. But the militant group said Monday — on a different Twitter handle, verified by the SITE Monitoring Service, which tracks statements by extremist groups — that it had not sent the earlier messages. Nor had it released the names or any other details about the attackers, it said.