Westgate Mall attacker lived in Somali refugee camp, Kenyan officials say

BY newsdesk  November 11, 2013 at 12:01 PM EST

A Kenyan policeman stands near the Westgate mall in Nairobi where al-Shabab terrorists seized the building over four days. At least 67 people were killed in the mall siege that began on Sept. 21. The Kenyan Red Cross said that 20 people are still missing. Photo by Ahmet Erkan Yigitsozlu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya — One of the four gunmen linked to the Westgate shopping mall siege once lived in a refugee camp in northwestern Kenya, The Associated Press reports.

Two Kenyan security officials told The AP that Mohammed Abdinur Said lived in the Kakuma refugee camp. The camp is run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, and hosts more than 100,000 refugees, 54,000 of which are Somalis.

The Somali Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the Sept. 21 attack on the mall that lasted over four days. Al-Shabab said the attack was revenge for Kenya’s military campaign in Somalia for the past two years.

Previously, 23-year-old Somalia native Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow was identified as a mall attack suspect. His family moved to Norway in 1999.

Concerned about the security inside the refugee camps within Kenya’s borders, the country’s government, Somalia and UNHCR signed an agreement Sunday that offered support to the 475,000 registered Somali refugees, should they decide to return to their homeland, the AP reports.

Mutea Iringo, the permanent secretary for Kenya’s Interior Ministry, said Sunday that the new agreement to repatriate Somalis was so they could “participate in the development of their country.”

Video by Citizen TV

Housing refugees for more than two decades, security has been a concern for the Kenyan government.

“Of course one of the challenges we faced over time was security … the country was experiencing a lot of attacks by the terrorists in the northeast coast and Nairobi,” Iringo said to Kenya’ Citizen TV. “The government decided to intervene in Somalia … and currently we are assured once they are repatriated we will be able to minimize the incidents of insecurity to a large extent.”

As details gradually emerge from the Westgate mall attack, four Somali men appeared in Kenyan Court Monday, facing charges for assisting the attackers, including one charged with harboring a terrorist. All four men pleaded not guilty to all charges lobbied against them, the Los Angeles Times reports.