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Analysis: Al Shabaab steps up attacks in Somalia

What the recent attacks by Islamist extremists mean for stability in the failed state.

A more acute concern for American officials is ‘blowback’: that American citizens might receive training in Somalia before returning to the U.S. to launch attacks. In August the FBI indicted 14 American citizens, alleging that they were supporters of Al Shabaab while around two-dozen young Somali-Americans have disappeared from Minneapolis in recent years and are believed to have joined Al Shabaab in Somalia.

At least one is known to have died in a suicide bombing in 2008.

It is not just diaspora Somalis who are attracted to Al Shabaab’s growing extremism. A key commander is a young white American man from Alabama known as Omar Hammami or Abu Mansoor al-Amriki. He has featured in Al Shabaab recruitment videos projecting a hip-hop cool and leading squads of fighters.