CNN is no longer certain some of the attackers responsible for storming a Kenyan mall and killing non-Musilms over the weekend are from America, a spokesperson for the news-network told TheBlaze Monday.
“Due to varied accounts from our sources in that region, the company feels additional reporting is needed to verify all claims,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said.
“An editor’s note is being added to provide additional clarification,” he added.
At the time of publication, an editor’s note had not been added to the article at CNN.com.
On Sunday around 3pm ET, CNN anchor Fredicka Whitfield interrupted regular programming with a breaking news alert, saying CNN had learned the names and ages of some of the attackers.
“Three of the Al-Shabaab members who have carried out this attack are from the United States,” Whitfield said definitively. “Two from Minnesota, one from Missouri, from Kansas City Missouri, and others from London, Canada, Finland and Somalia.”
“The ages of the attackers that CNN has learned range in ages from 20 to 27 years old,” Whitfield added:
CNN correspondent Nima Elbagir followed up later by saying CNN had obtained “a list of names of those Al Shabaab is claiming are inside that shopping center, three of whom appear to be ethnic Somalis that carrying American passports.”
“We can corroborate that same kind of information, Nima,” anchor Whitfield added:
CNN Senior Director of Coverage Sarah Pratley also sent out a tweet Sunday from her verified account saying “#cnn has learned from sources that two of the Kenya mall attackers are from Minnesota and one from Missouri.”
By 4pm ET, the network had started backing down from more of the definitive language, but still was reporting the apparent development.
“We are hearing a little bit of information from Al-Shabaab sources about where some of these alleged attackers may originate — from London, Canada and now we are also hearing reportedly three who have lived in the United States,” said Whitfield to CNN Senior International Correspondent Nick Robertson (emphasis added). “What more are you learning about who these attackers may be?”
As the news broke, CNN.com’s home page was emblazoned with a breaking news alert reiterating the information and an article claimed “sources within Al-Shabaab told CNN that nine names listed on a Twitter site — now suspended — were people who were among the alleged hostage-takers”:
However, early Monday morning, that same article was quietly stripped of the language citing an Al-Shabaab source. The updated version simply cited an unidentified Twitter account which CNN claims belonged to Al-Shabaab before it was suspended:
The story now on CNN.com alleges that “a senior State Department official also said that authorities are becoming more confident that U.S. citizens were involved.”
However, a spokesman for the State Department told TheBlaze Monday morning he could not verify those claims.
“I cannot verify that claim or quote by CNN,” spokesman Peter Velasco said. “At this point we have no definitive evidence of the nationalities or identities of the perpetrators.”
UPDATE — 3:45pm ET:
CNN has once again changed the story on its website.
An earlier version said “authorities said they were becoming more confident that American citizens may be involved.”
However, its latest update substitutes that claim with a new one, saying “a senior U.S. official told CNN that Al-Shabaab’s claim that Americans were among its ranks of attackers at Westgate seemed less solid.”
At the time of update, CNN still had not added the editor’s note it told TheBlaze would help clarify the matter.
UPDATE — 8.10am ET, 9/24:
Following a PBS interview on Monday night, in which Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said two or three Americans were involved in the Nairobi Mall attack, CNN reverted the language in their article back to it’s initial state.
The article now again cites “sources within Al-Shabaab” that they claimed “told CNN that nine names listed on a Twitter site — now suspended — were people who were among the alleged hostage-takers.”
It adds, “Three of the alleged attackers are from the United States, two are from Somalia and there is one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom, according to the list.”
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