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'They are not Muslims': US Somali community, Somali president condemn acts by extremists

Andrew Welsh-Huggins / AP

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud discusses security and political issues in Somalia, during a question and answer session after a speech on Sept. 23, in Columbus, Ohio. Mohamud says maintaining security is his government's top goal.

Speaking from American soil, Somalia’s president warned Monday that the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group that attacked an upscale mall in Kenya is not just a threat to Somalia and Africa, but the entire world.

"Today, there are clear evidences that al Shabaab is not a threat to Somalia and Somali people only," President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a speech at Ohio State University. "They are a threat to the continent of Africa, and the world at large."

Ohio is home to the second largest concentration of Somalis in America.

Mohamud added that his government is committed to uprooting al Shabaab. He said maintaining security is his top priority as Somalia rebuilds after decades of civil war and terrorist threats. But a relapse is a possibility, he warned.

Earlier this month, Mohamud himself survived a assassination attempt by al Shabaab operatives using a roadside bomb.

Elsewhere on Monday, in Minnesota — which has the largest concentration of Somalis in the country — community leaders held a press conference at the Abubakar As-saddique Islamic center in Minneapolis to publicly denounce al Shabaab as Muslims.

“Al Shabaab – they are nothing but criminals,” said imam Ibrahim Baraki. “They are not Muslims. They have deviated from the teaching of Islam. Their main goal is to destabilize and create chaos in the world.”

Baraki concluded by condemning al Shabab “in the strongest words possible.”

Abdisalam Adam, a member of the Islamic Center, provided a list of seven responses to the attack in Nairobi on Saturday which has claimed he lives of more than 60 people and injured more than 175.

In his list, Adam extended his condolences "to the victims of the families who lost loved ones" and stated that "this form of extremism is a menace."

Adam added that "the safety and security of the U.S. is of utmost importance to the Somali-American community."

After the press conference, leaders of the Islamic Center deflected questions by reporters concerning Somalis with ties to al-Shabaab who allegedly had been members of their mosque.

Allegations that there are up to five American citizens who were involved in Saturday's attack are currently being investigated by the FBI, but cannot be confirmed.

The names of Americans, supposedly from Minneapolis, Kansas City, Maine and Arizona, were tweeted Sunday by an unconfirmed Twitter account linked to al Shabaab.

"We can't confirm," a law-enforcement source told NBC News. "And there are so many different spellings of the names of the kids who may or may not be at the ones involved."

Meanwhile in New York City, on Monday three men of Somali descent with alleged ties to al Shabaab face federal terrorism charges and await trial.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn describe the defendants — Ali Yasin Ahmed, Madhi Hashi and Mohamed Yusuf — as "dangerous and influential" members of al Shabaab who were part of an elite unit of suicide bombers. They were captured in Africa last year while traveling to Yemen to team up with the al Qaeda offshoot there, according to NBC's New York affiliate.

Two men, Ahmed, 27, and Yusuf, 29, have citizenship in Sweden and Hashi, 23, has citizenship in Great Britain.

The charges against the men allege that between 2008 and 2012, the men traveled to Somalia to receive weapons and explosives training from al Shabab and were "deployed in combat operations" there.

NBC News' Richard Esposito and The Associated Press contributed to this report.