TODAY   |  September 22, 2013

Kenya mall attack: Could it happen in the US?

The militant Islamic group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack at a mall in Kenya that killed 59 people. Evan Kohlmann, a NBC News terrorism analyst, told TODAY’s Lester Holt that the group has been known to recruit within the United States.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> evan coleman is an nbc news terrorism analyst. al shabaab named kenya as a target in the past, but they also named the u.s. therefore, should we be worried?

>> that's part of the problem. there's been a history of shabaab recruiting people from this kenya -somali border region . where else are they recruiting from? right here many united states in communities like minneapolis, portland, maine, seattle, washington, san diego . these are not places you think of as being headquarters for terrorist groups. nonetheless, shabaab has had quite a bit of success in terms of finding local people inside the u.s. and bringing them to somalia. that includes those of somali origin as well as those that have never been to somali before.

>> when you look at the mumbai attacks before, very similar, low tech, primarily automatic weapons. we saw that in our own country last week. the notion that somebody can walk into a shopping mall and shoot it up is very real anyplace. do we have any defense against that sort of attack?

>> that's part of the problem. it doesn't require a lot of sophistication, people or hardware. this is the concern. when you look at something like kenya , this didn't require years of preparation. they might have taken some time, but it didn't require building a bomb, didn't require coming up with some kind of complicated scenario. unfortunately that means somebody with relatively little sophistication here in the u.s., whether or not they have a tie to shabaab could try to do something very similar.

>> evan coleman, thank you for being was.