TAMPA - Nairobi, Kenya is eight thousand miles from Tampa Bay, but security experts say it would be foolish to ignore the threat that even distant terror groups like Al Shabaab pose to all of us right here at home
The terror that killed 62 shoppers in Nairobi had American connections among the wounded and possibly among the attackers
"They're an extremely dangerous organization, very well trained and one of the only Al Qaeda affiliates that's actively recruited successfully here in the United States" said Congressman Peter King.
Whether or not Americans were among the shooters, it's believed the Islamist group Al Shabaab has recruited some 50 young men from the United States, most of them from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Ambassador David Shinn , former US Ambassador to Ethiopia says they have a core of people, mostly young people, who are willing to give their lives.
Al Shabaab claims they attacked civilians in Nairobi into punish Kenya for sending troops into neighboring Somalia. The group has promised to attack Americans as well. And thought Al Shabaab is likely not capable of mounting a full-on assault as they did in Nairobi, security experts says even a limited attack in the on a soft target such as a mall in the U.S. could have devastating impact.
"The capacity for hitting a soft target is really very easy to do. So I think the malls are going to be on guard and I think we as citizens need to be on guard" said former Tampa FBI agent, Joe Navarro.
Local malls are not eager to talk about security but Navarro is sure they've talked with local FBI, police and sheriffs since the mall attack in Africa. And while the threat here may be small, it can't be ignored.
"Is it the number one threat to the United States or to our safety? No it's not. But it's certainly something that the malls will be thinking about" said Navarro.
Navarro says Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base will likely be watching groups like Al Shabaab not just for the threat at home, but for their ability to destabilize democracies on the African continent.
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