How did Americans end up on the terror squad that took over a shopping mall in Nairobi? Authorities suspect they were plucked from Illinois, Minnesota and Kansas by al-Shabaab recruiters and promised a path to paradise and the chance to become martyrs from the Midwest.
It isn't known whether any of those American-born terrorists are among the five dead Islamist militants in that upscale mall. But the four-day standoff has ended and 11 of them are in custody.
"Intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved in the attack. We cannot confirm the details at present," said Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya.
When al-Shabaab terrorists took over a Nairobi mall, organization leaders put out a list on their official Twitter page of the 17 commandoes who were in control. By the time it ended on Tuesday, nearly 70 innocent victims-- all believed to be non-Muslims-- were dead. On the list of terrorists released by al-Shabaab were a 21-year-old from Illinois and several from Minneapolis.
Last month, al-Shabaab produced a 40-minute video encouraging young Muslim men to join other extremists and wage war on America and the west.
Entitled "The Path to Paradise from the Twin Cities to the Land of Two Migrations," the video glorifies several Americans from the large Somalian population in Minneapolis, who joined al-Shabaab and died fighting in Somalia.
"If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here, this is the real Disneyland. You need to come here and join us, and take pleasure in this fun," said Troy "al-Amriki" Kastigar, Minneapolis native.
He and the other Minnesotans featured in the video end up dead, martyrs for the cause. It is their stories of suicide bombings and anti-American rhetoric that authorities suspect prompted a recent surge in extremist recruiting by al-Shabaab.
Even though the Midwestern men featured in the videos died in 2009, they live on in those recruiting videos as an attempt to glorify jihadists and make that sacrifice appealing to young Muslim men.
The terrorists who took over the Kenyan shopping mall were from Illinois, elsewhere in the Midwest and other western nations and their propaganda videos blame the United States for the world's ills. It begs the question: If they were planning such a terrorist attack, why didn't CIA and NSA monitoring pick up on it the past few weeks?