Kenya Charges Four Somalis In Bloody Mall Attack

Four Somali men were charged in Kenya on Monday in connection with the Sept. 21 attack on a Nairobi mall that killed dozens. The four suspects, who are not accused of being gunmen at the Westgate Mall, are charged with helping to carry out the attack by “supporting a terrorist group,” according to the charge sheet, AFP reports. All four men pleaded not guilty, and were remanded into custody without a lawyer. At least 67 people were killed in September when gunmen attacked the upscale mall, where witnesses described gunman executing people at close range. All of the gunman are believed to have been killed during a four-day siege following the attack. [AFP]b.gif?host=world.time.com&blog=19871253&post=113743&subd=timeglobalspin&ref=&feed=1

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Al-Shabab Militants Threaten to Kill Remaining Hostages in Nairobi Mall

As the standoff between Islamist militants and Kenyan forces at an upmarket mall in Nairobi entered its third day on Monday, the Al-Qaeda-linked Somalian rebels threatened to begin killing their hostages. “Israelis and Kenyan forces have tried to enter Westgate [mall] by force but they could not, the mujahideen will kill the hostages if the enemies use force,” said al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage in an online statement quoted by Reuters. (More: Terror in Nairobi: Behind al-Shabaab’s War With Kenya) Sustained gunfire and explosions were heard coming from the Westgate mall early Monday morning. Sixty-eight people have been killed and more than 170 injured since the terrorists entered the shopping center on Saturday, strafing civilians with machine gun fire and lobbing hand grenades. All efforts are underway to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion — Kenya Defence Forces (@kdfinfo) September 22, 2013 While Kenya’s defense forces say that a majority of the hostages have been rescued from the besieged shopping center, an unspecified number of people remain in al-Shabab’s hands in the mall’s supermarket, where the militants are reportedly holed up. According to a report in the New York Times, the Mumbai style attack on civilians in Nairobi is believed to have coincided with an assault targeting African Union troops in Mogadishu. The Somalian rebels have long held a vendetta against their neighbors since Kenya sent ground troops into Somalia in 2011. In the past year, al-Shabab has faced major set backs after being dislodged from its coastal stronghold in Kismayo in 2012 by Kenyan troops and ceding strategic ground to African Union forces. [AFP]

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Twitter Shuts Down Somalia’s Extremists, Again

(NAIROBI, Kenya) — The flagship Twitter account of al-Shabab, Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked terror group, was closed Friday for the second time this year, less than 24 hours after a U.S.-based terrorism expert reported violations of Twitter’s terms of service. The closure comes only days after al-Shabab claimed a failed assassination attempt against Somalia’s president and tweeted that the next time the president wouldn’t be so lucky. Al-Shabab uses Twitter mainly to make claims of enemy kills and to spread its view of events in Somalia and East Africa. A United Nations report on Somalia released last month said U.N. experts believe the person running the English-language account is a British member of al-Shabab. Twitter in January suspended al-Shabab’s previous account two days after the group used the platform to announce a death threat against Kenyan hostages. Twitter’s terms of service says it does not allow specific threats of violence against others in its posts. The extremists’ use of Twitter has upsides and downsides, say terrorism analysts. Analysts and governments can use the rebels’ Twitter postings to gather intelligence, but militants can use the accounts to spread propaganda and recruit fighters. The closing of the account is likely to keep al-Shabab off Twitter only temporarily. Whoever ran the account can easily open another one. J.M. Berger, the U.S.-based terrorism analyst who made several posts on Thursday about al-Shabab’s violations on Twitter, said in a post early Friday that “I’m sure Al Shabab will be back on Twitter, but maybe next time they’ll know they have to behave like civilized people to stay.” Analysts debate whether society is better served by closing social media accounts and the messages they propagate or if it’s better to keep the accounts open so intelligence can be gathered. Berger argues that there is little intelligence of value to be mined from the accounts. Berger wrote earlier this year, following the first Twitter closure, that closing the accounts strengthens intelligence gathering because experts can track who quickly follows the new Twitter account, and that they are often people………

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