Transcript: Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed’s interview with PBS News Hour on the Westgate mall attack – Sept. 23, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed on the Westgate mall terrorist attack. The interview was aired on PBS News Hour on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013:

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Minister Mohamed, thank you for joining us. My condolences for what has happened in your country.

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
Thank you. Thank you very much.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
And I understand your daughter also lost two of her very good friends there.

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
That’s correct. That’s correct. But we all know somebody there. It’s just a huge tragedy. Huge tragedy.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
And still ongoing.

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
That’s right.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
What can you tell us about the perpetrators? It looks like a very professional job.

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
Yes. Absolutely. I think if you saw the [incomprehensible audio], it was professional…[incomprehensible audio] and it’s clear I think to the government now that Al Shabaab has been working with others in other parts of the world to increase their outreach, their capacity, to expand their operations, and to be able to reach places that they hadn’t been before.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
And you’re talking about with other Al Qaeada affiliates and wannabes all over the world?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Was your government surprised that they had this kind of reach to get into Nairobi, pull off something of this scale without being detected?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
I think we’re all shocked. I think we’re all shocked. And what does it tell us? It tells us as governments we must do better. If we could cooperate at that level, if they could coordinate their evil at that level, that governments all around the world must cooperate even more, that we must be able to share our intelligence. We must be able to share our resources. We must be able to combine our efforts and collaborate even more closely to just make sure that we stay ahead of the curve.

This is a totally new way of doing business for them. And I think we’ve just seen how much damage can be done. We should not let them get away with this.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Now, Al Shabaab made it clear that this was in retaliation for what Kenyan forces have been doing very effectively against Al Shabaab along the Kenya-Somalia border, inside Somalia and as part of the effort – African Union operation inside Somalia. Is there any thought on your government’s part in pulling back from that?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
No. No. Absolutely not. I think we are more strengthened in our resolve to do our best to uproot Al Shabaab everywhere and anywhere we find them.

We went in not because we like going into Somalia. We went in because we needed to protect our security and economic interests. Al Shabaab are coming into our country. They’re taking tourists hostage, killed some of them. And it was at that moment that we decided enough is enough, and we would not allow that.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Do you think – Kenya is hosting a large number of Somali refugees in Nairobi and in other parts of Kenya. Do you think that has left Kenya more vulnerable?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
Yeah, I think it has. I think it has because it’s been very, very difficult to differentiate between the genuine refugees and some of these elements that are hiding among the refugees. So absolutely. I think it’s been something we’ve been looking at for a while. The refugees –

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Any thought of being less welcoming to them?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
No, no. I think that – look, we have taken on international commitments to open our doors whenever anybody faces fear of execution. I don’t think that this is going to be one of those occasions where, you know, we turn around and say, “Look, just shut down.” We would not do that.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
How closely are the Kenyan and U.S. governments working on intelligence and law enforcement side of all of this?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
We’re working together. We’re working together. I think now everybody needs to up their game. I think this, you know, attack tells us that we do not do enough. We need to work much more closely with everybody but much more with the U.S. and the U.K. governments. Because as you know, both the victims and the perpetrators, you know, came from Kenya, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
So both British and American citizens were among the perpetrators?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
Yes, from the information that we have – two or three Americans. And I think so far I’ve heard of one Brit.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
And the Brit was a British-born woman.

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
Woman. She’s, I think, done this many times before.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
And the Americans?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
The Americans – from the information we have, are young men, about between maybe 18 and 19.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Somali origin?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
All Somali origin or Arab origin but that, you know, lived in the U.S. in Minnesota and one other place. You know, so basically, look – I mean, that just goes to underline, I think, the global nature of this war we are fighting.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
What can these countries of Africa that we now see outbursts from various Al Qaeda affiliates do to keep this part of Africa from becoming the new hub of the Al Qaeda affiliates around the world?

Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed:
It is a global challenge, and it will require response on all levels, and especially at the global level but also at the regional level, at the sub-regional level, at the local levels. These people who perpetrate these crimes did not fall from outer space. They live among us. They live in our countries, right? We know that. And I think it’s time that we actually look each other in the eye and say, “Listen, I think this neighbor of mine might be part of something.” I think we just need to be much more aware, much more prepared to deal with this, and we must always remain ahead of them.

PBS Correspondent Margaret Warner:
Minister, thank you very much.

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