OSLO, Norway — Norway’s domestic intelligence service tried to prevent one of the suspected gunmen in the Nairobi mall attack from joining Somali militants more than three years ago, but failed to talk him out of it, the agency’s chief said Wednesday.
The man has been identified in Kenya as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a 23-year-old Somali native whose family moved to Norway in 1999. Norwegian officials had previously not said whether they knew of him before the four-day siege of the Westgate mall that killed nearly 70 people in the Kenyan capital.
But Marie Benedicte Bjoernland, the head of Norwegian security service PST, told Associated Press that the Norwegian suspect was well known to her agency and that the agency even tried to dissuade him from becoming a jihadist.
‘‘We had several talks with him . . . before he left Norway more than three years ago,’’ Bjoernland said at PST headquarters in Oslo. ‘‘Obviously we didn’t succeed, but there was quite an effort put into the preventive side of this.’’
Bjoernland declined to give details of the conversations, and said the Norwegian ‘‘most likely’’ died in the attack, though PST investigators have not confirmed that. The Kenyan government said Sunday it thinks it has recovered the remains of the four gunmen seen in surveilance footage carrying out the attack.
Security camera images showed what appeared to be Dhuhulow and three other gunmen firing on shoppers as they made their way along store aisles after storming the upscale mall.