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Obama won't confirm Al Qaeda threat to family member in Kenya

May 13, 2011|By James Oliphant
(Ben Curts/AP )

As bomb attacks in Pakistan killed at least 80 in what was said to be a reprisal for the U.S. operation that took out Osama bin Laden, President Obama on Thursday would not directly address news reports that his step-grandmother in Kenya has been threatened by a branch of Al Qaeda.

ABC News reported Thursday that security had been increased around the home of Sarah Onyango Obama, the third wife of Obama’s paternal grandfather, after Al Shabaab, the Somalia-based branch of Al Qaeda, threatened her life.

Obama was asked to confirm the threat in an interview Thursday with the Univision television network.

“There are a lot of reports all the time about threat streams to me and my family, so I don't comment on specifics,” the president said. “There’s no doubt that when it comes to the American people, that after having killed Bin Laden there may be a desire [by] some Al Qaeda members to exact revenge, and that’s something that we have to be vigilant about. And we are monitoring all these situations very carefully.”

Sarah Obama, 88, is not a blood relative of the president, although he has called her “Granny Sarah.” She lives in a small village about 30 miles west of the Kenyan city of Kisamu. During the 2008 presidential campaign, she denounced claims that President Obama was Muslim.

"In the world of today, children have different religions from their parents," she said then in an interview.

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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