Kenya Westgate Mall Attack: What Is Al-Shabaab?

The group claiming responsibility for the deadly attack on Kenya’s Westgate mall, al-Shabaab, is a murky, fractured organization with links to al Qaeda and a host of members born and raised in America. Here are some other key facts about the militants propelled by bloodshed to headlines around the world today:

What Is Al-Shabaab?

Al-Shabaab is a Somalia-based terror group that was originally formed in the mid-2000s as the militant wing of the Somalia Council of Islamic Courts, an organization that managed to take over much of the southern half of Somalia by late 2006, according to the National Counter-Terrorism Center. Security analysts said al-Shabaab grew in popularity as they fought Ethiopian forces operating in Somalia that were accused by Somalis of a host of abuses.

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