The al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group's recruitment of Somali teens in the United States and Canada is well documented. Federal prosecutors have charged and convicted dozens of people for providing material support to the group and other related crimes.
In this 2010 interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Osman Ahmed explained why al-Shabaab's recruitment of young Somalis in America posed a wider threat than just Somalia. Ahmed's nephew was killed by Al-Shabaab terrorists after relatives complained about their relatives being solicited to join the group.
While the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement condemning the Nairobi attack as a "heinous crime," it made no reference to al-Shabaab or the radical Islamist ideology which drives it. Pressed by the New York Post Tuesday, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper dismissed the significance of seeing American recruits help al-Shabaab's slaughter.
"It doesn't matter who's involved in it," Hooper said. "Terrorism is terrorism, whether it is Americans involved or anyone from any nation or background. Who cares?"
That's consistent with an overall "see no evil" attitude CAIR has exhibited on Somali-Americans joining al-Shabaab. The group attempted to silence Somali-Americans who tried to alert the public about the problem. Abdirizak Bihi, whose nephew was killed by al-Shabaab after having second thoughts about joining the terrorist group, described how CAIR worked with officials at a local mosque to discourage Somali-Americans from cooperating with federal law enforcement officials. "We held three different demonstrations against CAIR, in order to get them to leave us alone so we can solve our community's problems, since we don't know CAIR and they don't speak for us," Bihi said in 2011 congressional testimony. "We wanted to stop them from dividing our community by stepping into issues that don't belong to them."
CAIR-Michigan director Dawud Walid dismissed Bihi's testimony before a House committee about radicalization within the American Muslim community, writing on Twitter that "Bihi has basically a one person organization and is not seen as a leader by Somali-Americans."
That's a standard CAIR modus operandi – stigmatize anyone who gets in the group's way with baseless allegations of bigotry and hope the public ignores them. That strategy looks even more depraved in light of the bloodshed in Nairobi. If it doesn't matter now, when would it?