Alexandra Gunn: After a 3-day battle Kenyan forces say they have taken control of an upscale Nairobi mall. More than 10 terror suspects have been arrested. At least 62 people were killed and more than 160 injured after Islamist militants launched an assault on Saturday. Two Canadians are also among the dead. Kenyan authorities stormed the mall in an attempt to end the siege earlier today. Al Qaida inspired Somali-based group known as the al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for this attack. Joining us for more on this is John Rossomando. He's a senior analyst … at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He joins us live from Washington. Sir, thank you for joining us today.
John: Thank you.
Gunn: Oh, go ahead.
John: I was just going to say that based on YouTube videos and other information that we're seeing, this is retribution on the part of al-Shabaab for Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. Last year Somali troops, Kenyan troops, were able to dislodge al-Shabaab from the southern port city of Kismayu where they had built up a big racketeering operation, which was a big source of their funding. That have had a hard time recovering, and so they are threatening more to come.
Gunn: Can you give us a better idea or sense who exactly al-Shabaab is and what is the goal of this particular attack at this mall?
John: Al-Shabaab is the Somali offshoot or affiliate of al-Qaida. They started out about 10 years ago as part of the Islamic Courts Union, which brought about an Islamist governance in much of Somalia; however, they started becoming a threat to Ethiopia. And the Ethiopians invaded Somalia in 2006. And al-Shabaab became an increasingly violent terror operation that you know fought against them. And then in 2010 the al-Shabaab militants launched a similar attack during the World Cup in Kampala, Uganda where they killed 74 Ugandans, threatening that they would strike any nation that would intervene in Somalia.
So I think what they are trying to say is you know, "Pull your troops out Kenya, or we are going to make your life really difficult, and we are going to hit you. And that we are down, but we are not out."
Gunn: There has been an emphasis placed on the location of the target. Some are really questioning why the mall, a soft target, was chosen. Can you provide any insight on that front.
John: According to a leader of al-Shabaab in an interview with al-Jazeera, they struck the mall because it was like you said, it's a soft target. Plus also, there are a lot of foreign diplomats. There a lot of shops that are quote, end quote owned by Americans and Jews that would make a good political target for this group. They are particularly opposed to you know like al-Qaida itself, hitting economic targets.
Gunn: The question when a lot of people take a look at this, this video footage we are seeing is just the horrific massacre that we were seeing at the Westgate Mall. Some people are concerned as to whether or not North America could be a target in an attack such as this, some are wondering if this could happen here in North America. What are your thoughts? Are Canadians, are U.S. exempt from attacks like this?
John: I don't think so. We have to keep our vigilance. Your Royal Canadian Mounted Police, your intelligence. Down here in the U.S. with the FBI, local law enforcement, we have to be vigilant that their allies don't engage in terror attacks here on American or on Canadian soil. So it comes down to surveillance and you know getting tips and not letting our guard down.
Gunn: Something we are going to be tracking in the coming days. The siege is already on Day 3 sir, something we are going to follow here in depth on the Sun News Network. We thank you for your insight and for joining us today. And that was John Rossomando, a senior analyst at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He joined us live from Washington.