(CNSNews.com) – The al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists who claimed responsibility for a brazen terror attack on a hotel complex in Kenya’s capital this week want the world to know that, whatever President Trump may say, “Jerusalem will never be Jewish.”
Somalia-based Al Shabaab said the bomb and gunfire attack in Nairobi, which killed at least 21 people, was not only a drive to expel foreign forces from Somali soil, but also to “liberate” Jerusalem from the Jews.
According to the terrorist group’s Shahada “news agency” the attack was in line with the directive of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who on the eve of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem last May, called again for jihad against the United States.
Al Shabaab noted that the complex targeted in the attack included Western businesses and is popular with expatriates. It claimed that 50 “infidels” had been killed, including citizens of the U.S. and other “Crusader states.”
In fact the reported death toll currently stands at 21, and includes one American – Jason Spindler, a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center whose business development firm was based at the targeted complex. Other victims identified so far include a British citizen and several Kenyans, including a police officer.
The attack began on Tuesday afternoon local time with a suicide bombing near a restaurant. Four gunmen then opened fire, forcing hundreds of people to scramble for shelter. The terrorists later holed up on the sixth floor, where they were killed when troops rushed their location early Wednesday morning.
In its statement the terrorist group said the attack was a response to Trump’s “stupid” remarks recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move which it said gave approval to Jews to “desecrate the sanctity of one of Islam’s holiest sites.”
The Shahada report added that, according to Al Shabaab, every inch of Jerusalem and the “Holy Land” is and will remain Muslim heritage, whatever Israel does to “judaize” it.
“Even if the Zionists and the Crusaders would transfer all the embassies in the world to Jerusalem, Jerusalem will holy to Muslims,” it said, adding, “Jerusalem will never be Jewish.”
Jewish claims to Jerusalem go back some 3,000 years, to when King David made the city the capital of the kingdom of Israel, reigning from there for 33 years. His son, Solomon, built the first Temple in the city, and the later rebuilt one stood there until razed by the Romans in 70 AD. The Temple Mount remains the most revered site in Judaism, and is also home to two mosques, including Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest site.
‘Enemies of Islam’
Despite the focus on Jerusalem in the Al Shabaab statement and Shahada report, the terrorist group’s attacks have traditionally targeted countries contributing to the 12-year-old African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM, which Al Shabaab characterizes as a foreign occupation force.
The Shahada report said as much, concluding by saying Al Shabaab would not stop targeting Kenyans until its government withdraws troops from Somalia – and wondered whether Kenya would “respond to the language of reason.”
In 2007, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to protect a fragile transitional government but after battling the jihadists for two years withdrew in early 2009. When they did so, Zawahiri praised Al Shabaab for expelling “the enemies of Islam” (Ethiopia is a majority Christian country) and encouraged the group not to stop there.
“There is no difference between the Ethiopian invaders and the Kenyan or Ugandan or Burundian invaders or the African Union forces or other such names,” he said in an audio recording. “All of them are infidel invader forces which have invaded the Muslims’ lands, and it’s the individual duty of every Muslim to expel them from there.”
Soon after that message was released, Al Shabaab terrorists killed 11 Burundian peacekeepers attending a church service in Mogadishu.
Later victims of the group included 17 churchgoers in Kenya in 2012; more than 60 people during a 2013 siege at shopping mall in Nairobi, not far from the scene of this week’s attack; more than 150 students and others at a Kenyan university in 2015; and some 200 Kenyan soldiers killed in a raid on a remote military base in Somalia three years ago this week.
Al Shabaab said the latest attack in Nairobi was carried out by members of its “Saleh al-Nabhan brigade,” named for a Kenyan Muslim radical identified by the U.S. in 2007 as a senior al-Qaeda terrorist based in Somalia.
Al-Nabhan, accused of involvement in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel and attempted downing of an Israeli passenger jet in Mombasa in 2002, was killed in a U.S. Navy SEALS operation in southern Somalia in 2009.