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Al-Shabaab says Nairobi attack was a response to Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital; death toll rises to 21

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Somali Islamic militants wanted to send a message to western powers

Suspected al-Shabaab terrorists outside Nairobi's Dusit D2 Hotel. (Image source: AfricaNews video screenshot)

Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabaab issued a statement blaming U.S. President Donald Trump for the group's attack on a hotel complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi this week. The group cited Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for being the main motivation behind the murder of 21 people.

What are the details?

Al-Shabaab militants stormed the Dusit D2 Hotel on Tuesday, detonating car bombs and shooting civilians at the upscale locale known for being frequented by businesspeople and tourists.

Nairobi Police Chief Joseph Boinnet told reporters the death toll from the attack had reached 21 by Wednesday. At least 16 Kenyans (including a police officer), one British citizen, one American, and three other African nationals were killed, according to AfricaNews.

Counterterrorism organization, SITE Intelligence Group, obtained a two-page statement released by al-Shabaab titled "Al-Quds (Jerusalem) will never be Judaized," which said that the attack in Kenya "is a response to the witless remarks of the U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of the Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel," according to News24.

The statement went on to warn, "Know that we will hold you to account for every Muslim blood spilt in Palestine; ounce for ounce."

The Daily Mail reported that pictures showing the bloody bodies of five dead attackers killed by Kenyan counterterrorism police were broadcast across social media, and nine people have been arrested in connection with the ambush — including the wife of one of the terrorists.

How did the US respond?

A White House National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters, "This senseless act is a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat radical Islamist terrorism."

State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino issued a similar message, and offered condolences to the family of Jason Spindler, the American killed in the siege.

Spindler previously survived the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on New York City in 2001, and joined the Peace Corps following the tragedy. He was the founder of an investment firm based out of Nairobi, and had lived in Kenya for the past five years. The Houston native was killed on his 41st birthday.

President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

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