Westgate Mall Terrorist Attack: Lessons for Kenya

al shabbaab making a come back

A mother and her children hiding as guns blaze at Westgate

The terrorist attack by Somali-based Al-Shabaab at the up-market Westgate Shopping Mall in Westlands Nairobi, on 21st September 2013 was a brutal retaliation for Kenya’s military operations in southern Somalia, that began in October 2011. The Kenya Defense Forces are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is led by the African Union and UN-backed peacekeeping forces. Dubbed “Operation Linda Nchi” (Operation Defend the Country), the initial purpose of the invasion was to pursue Al-Shabaab militants who had been accused of kidnapping several foreign tourists and aid workers in Kenya. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the militant group is actively recruiting Kenyans from different ethnic groups into its terrorist operations. A report by the United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritea noted that: “Since 2009, the group has rapidly expanded its influence and membership to non-Somali Kenyan nationals who today constitute the largest and most structurally organized non-Somali group within Al-Shabaab.”

Nicknamed “Kenyan Mujahideen” by Al-Shabaab leadership, these youngsters who have converted to Islam, form around 10% of the group’s overall forces. Poverty is a key factor leading to their recruitment. Moreover, since they have a physical build that matches indigenous Kenyans, they easily blend within the general population without much suspicion. For instance, Elgiva Bwire Oliacha who was jailed for life in 2011 for grenade attacks in Nairobi, hails from Busia, went to schools in Nairobi, and was brought up in a strict Catholic family. Various reports indicate that Al-Shabaab’s goal is to establish a multi-ethnic generation within East Africa. Since 2011-2013, Kenyans in different parts of the country have suffered a number of fatal and non-fatal attacks within bars, churches, mosques and other public places, attributed to Al-Shabaab.

It was revealed that apart from the invasion, the Kenyan government had another plan for Somalia codenamed the “Jubaland Initiative” whose aim was “to be the creation of a Jubaland, encapsulating Gedo, Lower Juba and Middle Juba in Southern Somalia, bordering northern Kenya with a population of 1.3 million. The establishment of Jubaland, according to Kenya’s diplomatic and intelligence bureaucrats, would have two phases. First, it was meant to act as a “buffer zone” to safeguard Kenya from negative effects spawned by the “lawlessness in Somalia” – which included religious extremism, the flow of small arms and contraband, terrorism, piracy, uncontrolled refugees – and to safeguard Kenya’s economic interests. The second phase would seek to establish the roots of a solid Somalia. The “Jubaland Initiative” is supposed to be modelled on the Puntland and Somaliland experience. Puntland and Somaliland are two provinces in northern Somalia that broke away from and declared their own autonomous governments.” (By Wanjohi Kabukuru in New African, April 01, 2012). A politically stable Somalia is important for Kenya’s trade expansion in the Horn of Africa.

Combating insecurity
Kenyans continue to decry the escalating insecurity that affects their socio-economic fabric. They fault the government for not having forensic laboratories that can record data with profiles of suspected terrorists, their sponsors and sympathizers. Retired Captain Simiyu Werunga, who is a security expert and the director of African Centre for Security and Strategic Studies, maintains that “it would be difficult for Kenya to win the war against terrorism in the absence of a proper mechanism to profile suspects, which creates a reserve of information that security organs can easily refer to.” Nonetheless, the Anglo-Leasing scandal which rocked Kibaki’s government during his first term, is blamed for having hindered the creation of such labs. The National Intelligence Service is also in question for not justifying its huge annual allocations of over Ksh10 billion, in relation to curbing insecurity. During the 2013/14 fiscal year, a total of Ksh1.2 billion has been set aside to erect a National Forensic Laboratory to facilitate criminal investigations in order to get justice for victims of crime.

Another security expert, Dr. Ochieng Kamuthai, asserts that the Kenyan government must have a new approach in fighting terrorism by advancing its weaponry, applying new technologies, gathering intelligence by infiltrating terrorist cells and by being ahead every time. Kenya is a key ally of the West in their fight against terrorism and should seek more assistance in terms of cash and equipment. In October 2012, former president Kibaki assented to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2012 which is expected to lawfully disrupt the networks of financiers and sympathizers used by terrorists, to conduct their crimes.

According to Werunga, some factors affecting the security sector in Kenya include: lack of modernization of the security system and serious lapses of coordination between intelligence, the police and the Executive. Generally, there is no centralized coordination in the security sector. Within the top security apparatus, there is the element of shifting blame and giving excuses such as “I was not aware; I was not informed; we were not given the intelligence; this caught us unawares.” Last year, the former Internal Security minister admitted that the National Police Service lacks sufficient personnel and equipment to combat crimes in the country. There are around 80,000 regular and Administration Police for over 40 million Kenyans. The state security organs are reactionary and not proactive and to a good extent, do not apply early warning systems. Poor governance and the use of security forces by politicians to divide the electorate are also part of the problems ailing the sector. The biased deployment of security personnel by Kibaki’s government within ODM strongholds during the 2007/08 post election violence is a case in point. Additionally, the violent eviction of members of the Maasai community from their ancestral land in Narasha village in Naivasha in July 2013 in the presence of security personnel, clearly showed that the Jubilee government supports inhumane acts against poor Kenyans.

“Kenya’s Presidents have been loath to give up their control over policing; it has always been the surest way for them to gather intelligence on threats to their authority and has forever been a tool for interdicting this threat. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki used the police to stamp their authority in Kenya; but none of them saw fit to direct that policing’s principal purpose was the safety of the public first, and national security, that is, the preservation of the State and its authority, next. As a result, even in the early years of Kenya’s Independence, citizens were frequently at the mercy of bandits and criminals, but the presidency, the State and State authority was always secure.” (In: maunduville blogspot July 4, 2013).

International views
“Crime and corruption are among the biggest concerns of the locals. The city is one of the most dangerous urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Although the situation is better than a decade ago, most middle-class and wealthy urban dwellers refrain from walking on city streets after dark, a situation that has led to the popularity of the city’s shopping malls in its rich western districts as quasi-entertainment centers” (In: usatoday.com September 21, 2013).

Simon Tisdall reported in the guardian.com on September 22nd 2013 that: “The attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi by Islamist militants from the Somali-based al-Shabaab terrorist group is a direct product of the long-running failure of western powers and African Union countries to end more than 20 years of anarchy in the “failed state” of Somalia. But it also reflects the outcome of a brutal power struggle within al-Shabaab that has brought the group’s hardline global jihadist wing to the fore.” Tisdall suggests that Al-Shabaab has internal leadership wrangles and that the Nairobi attack was an effort to stamp its authority, despite being weakened by the Kenyan military.

“The Shabab, who have pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, used to control large parts of Somalia, imposing a harsh and often brutal version of Islam in their territory. They have beheaded civilians and buried teenage girls up to their necks in sand and stoned them to death. But in the past two years, the African Union forces, including the Kenyans, have pushed the Shabab out of most of their strongholds. The worry now, current and former American officials said Saturday, is that this attack could be the start of a comeback.” (By Jeffrey Gettleman and Nicholas Kulish in the New York Times on 21st September 2013).

“The fight against crime cannot be fought alone and fortunately, many countries [including the United States] are placing substantial resources within the borders of Kenya. Stability within Kenya has the potential to create an example for surrounding African nations. While the figures of crime facing Kenya are still some of the worst in East Africa, there is still considerable potential for a stable economy, government, and successful police force. First, the ratio of police to citizens needs to improve drastically. It is extremely unlikely for such a low number of police to actually make a significant difference in Kenya’s security. In addition to hiring more police officers, the salary and living conditions need to improve. Low pay and a lack of public respect breeds a sizeable amount of corruption, which puts a severe damper on the economy. Until the relationship between the police and Kenyan people improves, it is unlikely for crime levels to make any major statistical decline. Furthermore, the court system in Kenya needs a reorganization and overhaul because the utilization of police prosecutors has proven itself to be ineffective and outdated.” (See Crime and Development in Kenya, 2010, Vol. 2 NO. 09 pp1-2).

Jared Odero

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  • British terror suspect linked to ‘white widow’ Samantha Lewthwaite reportedly killed

    By Tom Whitehead, Mike Pflanz and Ben Farmer
    10:00PM BST 12 Sep 2013

    Habib Ghani, also known as Osama al-Britani, is understood to have died in an ambush on Thursday in a town 200 miles west of the Somali capital Mogadishu after being in hiding since splitting from the Islamist group last year.

    He was thought to have been killed with Omar al-Hammami, an American also known as both the “rapping jihadist” and al-Amriki, in what is believed to have been a targeted attack.

    Ghani, 28, was originally from Hounslow, west London, but had been in east Africa for up to seven years. It is thought he was on the run with Lewthwaite, the widow of 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay. The pair were wanted by the Kenyans on terrorist charges.

    Ghani, who has a Pakistani father and Kenyan mother, recently married Lewthwaite, local reports suggested.

    Her whereabouts are unknown, but she is not believed to have been caught up in Thursday’s attack and it is unclear whether the pair were still together.

    The two were charged alongside Jermaine Grant, from east London, whose trial for possessing explosives and plotting bomb attacks will continue in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa on Sept 23. Lewthwaite and Ghani are believed to have rented an apartment for Grant in the city, paid for the purchase of bomb-making chemicals, and were working closely with him when police stumbled on their plots.

    Grant was arrested just before Christmas 2011, but Lewthwaite and Ghani fled and had not been heard of until Thursday.

    The group to which Ghani was attached was attacked while in hiding in the town of Shongolow. Hammami is understood to have fallen out with al-Shabaab’s leadership, which has made attempts on his life before and which recently repeated that he should be killed.

    The men were killed on the orders of al-Shabaab’s chief commander, the Afghanistan-trained Moktar Ali Zubeyr, sources in Somalia said.

    Gunmen posing as travellers pretended to stop in the town to pray before opening fire when they saw their targets.

    Ghani was reportedly with up to eight other armed men, three of whom were killed alongside him. Two of the others escaped and al-Shabaab fighters captured at least two others.

    “There was a gun battle between Amriki and his men and other fighters,” said Moalim Ali, a local resident. “The reports are that Amriki is among those killed,”

    Al-Shabaab did not immediately confirm the killings. On its Twitter account, it said only that, “Mujahideen forces today ambushed a convoy of apostate militia … killing 3 and injuring over 10”. But posts on a website supportive of Hammami appeared to confirm his death. He has been falsely claimed to have been killed on at least two occasions in the past, but security sources said that yesterday’s reports were “the most credible” yet.

    Ghani used the aliases Osama al-Britani and Sheikh Osama al-Muhajir and was said to have been very close to Hammami, who is originally from Alabama. Hammami was among the most prominent foreign militants fighting in Somalia. Jerky videos that he posted on Youtube showed him enthusiastically promoting al-Shabaab’s battle to overthrow the internationally backed government, before he fell out with the leadership.

    He has been on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List since November last year. In March, the US State Department offered a $5million (£3.1million) reward for information leading to his killing or capture. Police have previously described Ghani as “very dangerous” and he has been described in some news reports as an al-Qaeda bomb maker.

    Lewthwaite is still being hunted. Last year, the pair were suspected of being part of a terrorist cell that was planning attacks in 2011 on hotels and restaurants in Mombasa.

    Her former husband Lindsay blew up an underground train at King’s Cross in 2005. She is believed to be on the run with her three children.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10304962/British-terror-suspect-linked-to-white-widow-Samantha-Lewthwaite-reportedly-killed.html

  • tweeting terrorism

    Tweeting terrorism: How al Shabaab live blogged the Nairobi attacks

    By Harriet Alexander
    6:19PM BST 22 Sep 2013

    The Somalia-based organisation, which is linked to al Qaeda, provided an extraordinary running commentary of the attacks on Twitter – glorifying the militants, taunting the Kenyan security forces, and justifying their actions. When it was shut down, it re-emerged under a different name hours after. When the Kenyan government made calls for negotiation, the account was used to ridicule their suggestion.

    Referring to its followers as “Mujahideen” – or holy warriors – and the victims as “kuffar” – a highly derogatory term for non-Muslims, the person behind the Twitter account gloated about the attacks – writing in Somali, Arabic, English and local language Kiswahili.

    “The Mujahideen entered Westgate mall today at around noon and they are still inside the mall, fighting the Kenyan kuffar inside their own turf,” it said on Saturday evening.

    “The attack at Westgate Mall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders.”

    The account, @HSM_Press – Shabaab is also known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen – was shut down by Twitter on Sunday morning. Twitter’s terms of service state that users “may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

    But only a few hours later, the jihadists had opened another account, @HSM_PressOffice, in an illustration of the impossibility of ever silencing terrorists who choose to use social media.

    “#Westgate: a 14-hour standoff relayed in 1400 rounds of bullets and 140 characters of vengeance and still ongoing. Good morning Kenya!” they posted.

    “It’s slowly approaching the 24-hour mark – the darkest 24 hours in Nairobi – highlighting the sheer fragility of the Kenyan nation.

    “The Mujahideen are still firmly in control of the situation inside Westgate Mall. Negotiation is out of the question!”

    Later on on Sunday, they gloated about the “Westgate Warriors.”

    “They say Kenyan forces tried to storm the building but failed miserably.”

    Shabaab have been avid users of Twitter since September 2011. At the time, the move onto Twitter was seen as an attempt to counter the widespread message of Kenya’s military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir, who uses his own Twitter account to highlight the government forces’ success in battling Shabaab to his almost 50,000 followers.

    Around that time the organisation also tried, unsuccessfully, to rename itself “Imaarah Islamiyah,” or the Islamic Authority.

    “Al-Shabaab means ‘youth’ but many of us, including the leaders, are very old,” said spokesman Mukhtaar Robow.

    The account was shut down in January, after using the service to announce it had killed a French hostage and showing graphic photos of a French soldier killed during a rescue attempt.

    It restarted, only to be shut down again earlier this month.

    When it emerged once more, reporters received an email from the group’s press office informing them that they could now follow the new handle @HSMPress, “for the Mujahideen’s take on the events in Somalia as well as current events in the wider global context.”

  • POLENI SANA NDUGU ZETU WA KENYA!
    /Vumbi Dekula Sweden

  • insecurity without borders

    KENYA-SOMALIA: Insecurity without borders

    GARISSA/MANDERA, 17 September 2010 (IRIN) – The Islamist insurgency in Somalia has had a spillover effect on security in the northeast of neighbouring Kenya, affecting livelihoods and the delivery of services, say residents and officials.

    The worst crimes reported in the region recently include killings, carjackings and abductions – including, in 2009, of aid workers and, in 2008, of two nuns. Insecurity in the borderlands has led thousands of livestock herders to abandon their traditional grazing land, say locals.

    Dozens of community programmes have been disrupted, notably those dealing with reproductive health, sanitation, food security and education, according to NGOs working in the region.

    “There is a direct effect of insecurity in Somalia for the humanitarian operations in northeast Kenya,” Patrick Lavand’homme, deputy head for Kenya of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told IRIN.

    “One of these effects is that Somali rebels enter Kenyan territory. Messages and threats have been received by humanitarians about their own security from some of the Somali groups,” he added, noting that as a result of these incursions and indigenous banditry and armed cattle rustling, the UN classifies the region as a phase-three security zone, “which means no [UN] movement can be done without armed escorts”.

    A senior UN source working with security concurred, asking not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

    “I think it [insecurity in Somalia] has worsened the situation in northeast Kenya. There is no government on the other side. Nobody knows how many weapons go back and forth across the border. That is always a concern,” he said.

    Messages and threats have been received by humanitarians about their own security from some of the Somali groups

    “Northeast Kenya, and Mandera specifically, is just across the border, and this is not a real border, there is no fence. There are known Al-Shabab elements in control on the other side of the border,” he said, adding, however, that it was impossible to say how much of the criminality in the region could be attributed to Somalis rather than Kenyans.

    “It makes it harder for the UN to do business, there is no freedom of movement without escorts, there is a 6pm to 6am curfew. It is not an area where humanitarian workers move freely,” he said.

    The difference between the two sides of the porous border, he added, was that Kenya had an active police unit that provides “some level of security” in the region.

    Lawlessness

    Kenya Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told IRIN: “The spillover effect is mainly in terms of firearms and lawlessness. The legal way of solving disputes has also been suspended on the other side such that disputes are sometimes solved with shooting.

    “The frequency [of attacks] may be small but the impact is high… humanitarian workers may not be able to do all they would like to or they may not go to the areas at all,” he said.

    “This feeling of vulnerability has caused a disproportional deployment of security officers there. Going by the population of the area and the economic activities, that place should not be taking the number of security officers it takes.”

    For such security officers, according to a recent Chatham House report, “being posted to the arid northeast, and particularly to administer the border area, is not an attractive proposition.

    “It entails dealing with a ‘strange terrain’, ‘strange people’, a ‘strange culture’ (pastoralism) and ‘strange way of life’ (relentless insecurity),” Hussein Mahmoud wrote in Livestock Trade in the Kenyan, Somali and Ethiopian Borderlands.

    “As a result, soldiers’ morale is usually low, and this seriously affects their performance. The problems of effectively controlling the border are compounded by its length and rough terrain,” the report added.

    Security reviews

    To minimise risks, many agencies review security on a daily basis. Measures, often costly, such as not travelling at night, avoiding certain routes and areas, moving in convoys, ensuring field staff keep in regular radio contact with head office and using local staff to work in more sensitive areas are also employed.

    “Current security management procedures and adherence have been made very strict, the security situation along the border is frequently monitored with all staff and volunteers under instructions to liaise with the security forces about any changes in the security situation,” said an NGO worker.

    “The [Somali] militias have made several attempts to abduct other workers and steal vehicles but failed; the threat, however, still looms,” he added.

    NGOs are opting to ground their own vehicles, relying on hired transportation instead. “The police stations and patrol bases in Mandera resemble a parking bay… all the vehicles owned by NGOs have been parked and instead we hire vehicles to do our work. It’s expensive as transporters charge exorbitant prices and we use a lot of money to pay for security,” said a member of the Mandera NGO Forum, who asked not to be named.

    He said the insecurity had denied hundreds of needy families assistance because few skilled personnel were willing to work for NGOs in the insecure areas. Voluntary staff, who lack insurance, are particularly reluctant to work in risky areas.

    “The NGOs which have left Mandera are not cowards… Their reasons for leaving are justified as some had been attacked and threatened as being agents of western countries and spreading Christianity,” the Forum member added.

    The dangers of pastoralism

    A ban, reportedly imposed by clerics with links to Al-Shabab, on public screenings of films and football matches has cut off the income of many video parlours, said one trader in Mandera.

    “It’s a very sad situation that a group of [foreigners] can disrupt our lives, deny young children, poor families and women the support they need most,” added another resident.

    Budget pressure

    The situation is similar in the neighbouring districts of Garissa and Wajir, said Irshad Yussuf, the Sisters for Maternity Health Organization Community Health Programme Manager.

    “Our budget has considerably increased; this has forced us to evaluate some of our projects in areas along the border.

    “The expenditure on security is enormous, our reproductive health programme is at risk because we propagate the use of condoms for family planning, raise HIV/AIDS awareness and campaign against FGM [female genital mutilation/cutting]. I am sure the guys across the border consider our mission to be anti-Islam. This is wrong. We are also Muslims,” he said.

    Health programmes such as child immunization suffer the most, with some community organizations unable to monitor their projects, Yussuf told IRIN.

    According to the Kenya Red Cross Society, the insecurity has also complicated the planning of prompt disaster response.

    na/aw-am/mw

  • Thursday, 2 June 2011

    POROUS BORDERS MAKES KENYA VULNERABLE PREY FOR TERRORISTS

    Synopsis

    Going by the recent insecurity cases witnessed in the country, there is little doubt if any that our borders are somehow porous and this makes Kenya a vulnerable prey for terrorists.

    The death of the Chief Terrorist, Osama Bin Laden came as a sigh of relief to many people across the world. This man gave many governments across the world sleepless nights more so U.S.A. Here in Kenya, his operations robbed us life, destruction of infrastructure, and physical disability of some people. He is most remembered for the vicious attacks on U.S Embassy in Kenya 1998 and the Kikambala hotel in Mombasa. Victims, friends and relatives who were affected by his terror attacks were baying for his blood. Fortunately, the US Forces placed a bullet on his head before he could continue with his cause.

    How did Osama and his comrades come to Kenya, launch an attack then disappear without trace? Recently, Kenyans living along the Kenya-Ethiopia border witnessed one of the deadliest attack staged by an Ethiopian militia. Sadly, some were not able to see the light of the day to at least tell the tale. This took place in Turkana, Northwest of Kenya. Every time Turkana features in the news headlines, it usually has a negative connotation ranging from hunger to fatal cattle rustling. In the latest attack, 40 are feared to be dead but up to now 25 have been confirmed to be deceased while the rest are still missing. This incident is not distant from a massacre going by the number of innocent lives that have been lost and the means by which by which they were murdered. Now, the big question is, how did the militia come, kill the 25 individuals and leave without being noticed by the security forces? In another incident the Al-shabab militia raided Mandera, North East of Kenya a long Kenya-Somali border and abducted a government officer and two missionary nuns. The above incidents and others like grenade attacks in Uhuru Park Nairobi last year, numerous narcotic consignments being impounded far away from the border, and firearms impounded in Narok town near Kenya-Tanzania border are a clear indication of porous borders that makes Kenya an easy target for terrorists. Is there security lapse a long the borders? And are we safe?

    Insecurity has gigantic negative implications on both the country’s political and economical fronts. Tourism industry will be the first casualty. It is the leading foreign exchange earner courtesy of approximately 2 million tourists who visit Kenya annually. Insecurity will lead to decline in number of tourists visiting the country and this means loss of income. Secondly, foreign investors will be hesitant to invest here and even those who currently operating in the country may opt to wind up their business ventures fearing terrorist attacks. As result, jobs will be lost and the revenue to the government will be no more. Insecurity in a nut shell will indeed derail economic growth and progress of the country.

    In a bid to make the country and the citizens secure, the government should reinforce the security at key entry points and also use latest technology in detecting firearms, illegal immigrants and narcotics. As much as we celebrate Osama’s death, we are not out of the woods yet. The government should be more vigilant than ever before since his loyalists can plot a retaliation attack. May God the Almighty rest the souls in peace of those who died in terror attacks and most recently the Todiyang Massacre. Amen.

    Posted by STEVE OSOMBAH at 02:58

  • Kenya in the Crosshairs of Global Terrorism: Fighting Terrorism at the Periphery
    By Kefa M. Otiso

    Kenya is a target of global terrorism because of a combination of geographic, regional, historical, political, economic and sociocultural factors. The direct causes of terrorist attacks in Kenya are (1) its close ties with Israel and western countries, especially the US, (2) its vibrant coastal beach tourism industry that threatens local Islamic culture and, (3) the perception that the country‘s predominantly Christian population is an obstacle to the Islamization of Eastern Africa. Factors that facilitate terrorist attacks in Kenya include the country‘s (1) coastal geographic situation and strategic location relative to Europe, Asia, and neighboring African countries, (2) porous borders due to poor policing, (3) politically unstable neighboring countries like Somalia and Sudan, (4) a relatively open and multicultural society, (5) relatively good transport and communications infrastructure and advanced regional economy, (6) relatively large Muslim population and, (7) the political and socioeconomic deprivation of the coastal population relative to the rest of the country. Terrorism in Kenya has (1) cost the country the loss of workers and family members, (2) led to a flare-up of tension between Christians and Muslims, (3) undermined the country‘s economy especially tourism and, (4) led to the erosion of citizens‘ rights and the country‘s sovereignty. Besides tightening security, Kenya is coping with the terrorist threat by developing anti-terrorism legislation and by spearheading efforts to resolve the Somali and Sudan political crises. As long as the factors that cause and facilitate terrorism remain unchanged, Kenya will probably continue to deal with terrorist attacks.

  • Nairobi’s Westgate mall and the attack that was waiting to happen

    Agence France-Presse | Updated: September 22, 2013 16:57 IST

    Nairobi: Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, part Israeli-owned and often crowded with well-to-do Kenyans, expatriates, diplomats and UN workers, has long been seen as a soft target for Islamic militants.

    The sprawling multi-storey complex, which opened in 2007, is known for its shops carrying trendy foreign brands as well as its friendly cafes and restaurants. Their terraces, however, are adjacent to a road along which cars can pass without security checks.

    Entering the mall is normally easy, involving a cursory body check, sometimes with a small metal detector – but there were no walk-through security scanners of the sort upmarket hotels have installed since the Shebab first started threatening to avenge the entry of Kenyan troops into Somalia.

    Cars entering the mall – which also has a multi-screen cinema, a food hall and other services such as banks, not to mention a casino – are also only given a quick check by private security guards.

    “Given Westgate’s strategic nature it’s certainly a target for terrorists,” said Emmanuel Kisiangani, a Nairobi-based analyst with South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies.

    “Terrorism is all about maximising impact, and as Westgate is frequented by the rich and by foreigners, it makes a good target.”

    Alerts issued intermittently by foreign embassies over the past two years have regularly listed Nairobi’s shopping malls as possible targets – but the crowds have not stayed away.

    Israeli interests in Kenya have come under attack before. In November 2002 there were two simultaneous attacks in the Mombasa area. A missile targeted an Israeli charter flight as it took off from the port city’s airport, but missed.

    At the same time a car packed with explosives smashed into the Paradise hotel, the only Israeli-owned hotel in the Mombasa area, as Israeli tourists were checking in. Ten Kenyans and three Israelis died.

    Al-Qaeda’s east Africa cell was blamed for the attack, which came four years after the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi that left 213 people dead and thousands wounded.

    According to a Western intelligence source, Westgate was always an attack waiting to happen.

    “It was only a question of time until a mall was targeted,” said the source.

    When Kenya sent tanks and troops across the border into Somalia in 2011, it sparked a series of attacks around the coastal city of Mombasa, in the areas bordering on Somalia and in Nairobi, but until Saturday the attacks in the capital, mostly attributed to Shebab sympathisers, have tended to be small-scale incidents at small bars and local shops.

    With the Westgate attack, Shebab “struck as a way of sending a message they are still relevant,” said the ISS’s Kisiangani.

    In the wake of the Westgate attack, several other upmarket shopping centres in Nairobi closed as a protective measure, as did most outlets of the capital’s leading hypermarket chain Nakumatt.

    “In one sense Westgate Mall is the perfect target,” said Stig Jarle Hansen, a Somalia specialist and author of “Al Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group”.

    “You meet expatriates there, you meet the Kenyan elite — there are a lot of expats from the UN and members of the local elite (and) the security there is not good at all,” he added.

    “By making the attack so visible it will hit Kenya where it hurts the most by hitting the tourism sector. Kenya managed to survive the financial crisis quite well but this will hit them.”

    For NDTV Updates,

  • Muslim Youth Centre aims to create religious strife in Kenya, analysts say

    By Bosire Boniface in Garissa

    August 22, 2012

    The al-Shabaab-affiliated Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) is out to create sectarian violence in Kenya, security officials and analysts say.

    The MYC, which is also known as Pumwani Muslim Youth, says Kenya is run by non-believers and has called on the Muslim community to revolt against the state.

    In a post on its website on January 14th, the group has vowed to carry out “attacks against Kenya’s kuffars [infidels] for our al-Shabaab brothers until the country withdraws its troops from Somalia”.

    In 2011, the United Nations Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia cited MYC for recruiting, fundraising, training and supporting a jihadist movement on behalf of al-Shabaab in Kenya.

    The MYC was established in 2008 and is led by Ahmad Iman Ali, also known as Abdul Fatah of Kismayo, who has been operating in Somalia since 2009, according to the UN report.

    Since its inception, the MYC has developed a strong network of members and sympathisers in Kenya, and Ali commands up to 500 Kenyan fighters, many of whom are children, in Somalia.

    “Ali’s success in recruiting fighters and mobilising funds for the cause appear to have earned him steady ascendancy within al-Shabaab,” the UN report said. “The group intends to conduct large-scale attacks in Kenya, and possibly elsewhere in East Africa.”

    After initial denials, the group confirmed its association with al-Shabaab.

    “Ali’s elevation to become the supreme emir of Kenya for al-Shabaab is recognition from our Somali brothers who have fought tirelessly against the unbelievers on the importance of the Kenyan mujahedeen in Somalia,” the group said on its blog and Twitter account.

    Since last year’s UN report, the MYC has been very active trying to garner support for al-Shabaab using a two-prong strategy of publishing threatening messages to spread fear among the public and igniting religious strife in Kenya.

    In a July 30th Twitter post, the group said, “The kuffar huffs and puffs but lacks staying power we will visit chaos upon you all”.

    In an August 3rd Twitter post, the MYC provided reasoning to its call to violence by publishing “Basic questions on jihad answered”.

    One question, “What can I expect when I join jihad?”, MYC said, “For the privileged brothers and sisters who join jihad they are given training in everything from the true meaning of Islam to using RPG, AK-47s and other weapons.”

    Another question, “Will I be fighting other Muslims?”, the centre attempts to provide religious cover for attacks on civilians: “Any Muslim who supports the kuffar against his Muslim brother cannot call himself a Muslim.”

    In response to “Where should I go to join jihad?”, MYC tells its followers, “If you are in Kenya consider a hijra to Somalia.”

    Later that same day, the MYC Twitter feed provides a link to a video produced by deceased al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaki, in which it states 44 ways followers can support violent jihad.

    MYC wants to create religious strife

    Garissa District Commissioner Maalim Mohamud said followers of all faiths must guard against people who want to create religious strife.

    “It is a tactic the centre appears to have borrowed from Nigeria’s Boko Haram who have created conflict between Muslims and Christians,” Mohamud told Sabahi. “But civilians have been made aware of the tactics and have been asked not to fall to the bait.”

    The group is fomenting religious emotions to draw the Muslim community to their heinous intentions, Mohamud said, citing an MYC Twitter post from July 30th that said, “drones kill innocent Muslims while Mujahedeen slaughter the kuffars”.

    The militants know their goals can only be achieved in a state of chaos, and after failing to convince the Muslim community that the war on al-Shabaab is a religious war, they are switching gears to focus on the old divide and conquer strategy, he said.

    David Ochami, a Mombasa-based journalist who follows militant groups in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa for Kenya’s The Standard, said the group is trying to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim community by creating perceived oppression.

    While attempting to use new technologies and social media to spread its views, the MYC has blasted and censored followers on its Twitter account that have questioned or opposed their tactics.

    For instance, when a user rejected an MYC tweet on drones killing innocent Muslims, the group responded with a threat: “You are a traitor and we will get you”.

    Security officials at all levels have urged the Muslim community in Kenya to ignore the MYC’s calls for sectarian violence, which would threaten the peace and stability Kenya has achieved among its diverse population.

    War on al-Shabaab is a war against extremism, not religion

    Acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji told Sabahi that despite the MYC’s attempts, it is clear that the war on al-Shabaab is not based on religion, but rather a war against terrorism and extremist ideologies.

    “The activities of MYC are a threat even to the Muslim community because they want to wage sectarian war,” Haji said. “How can they claim that the Kenyan government is run by Christians when we know there are countless Muslims in high positions including me?”

    Haji said he will do everything possible to wipe out the terrorists in Kenya.

    He said the Muslim community should not be hoodwinked into taking responsibility for the crimes of some individuals. “No one will carry out a crime in the name of religion and expect to go scot-free,” he said.

    The minister has kicked off a series of town hall meetings to engage the public and ask for their collaboration in security efforts. He held meetings with communities in Garissa and Ijara and has scheduled more in the coming weeks.

  • Monday, September 23, 2013

    MPs call for reforms in intelligence agency

    By Nation Reporter
    More by this Author

    Security agencies, including the National Intelligence Service, should be overhauled, MPs demanded on Monday, saying that most had failed to prevent terrorist attacks in the country.

    They said it was time the agencies were restructured to enable them tackle the aggression from terror groups like Al-Shabaab.

    The lawmakers said Saturday’s daring attack and a three-day siege at the Westgate Mall was a direct assault on the country’s national security.

    “We urge the NIS, the agency in charge of crime detection and prevention, to double its efforts in order to forestall any similar acts of aggression in the future,” said Mr Asman Kamama, the chairman of the House Committee on Administration and National Security.

    Members of the committee addressed a press conference on Monday. They said they were ready to work with the NIS in formulating pieces of legislation that would strengthen it.

    “We will do all within our powers to ensure that Parliament keeps the Executive on check by passing the necessary laws to curb insecurity and further terrorist attacks,” they said.

    Lagdera MP Mohammed Shidiye said: “I think that this is the high time that we need to urgently do a radical surgery in the department of Immigration. We also need to look at the NIS.

    “Somebody somewhere must have slept on the job and they must up their game to ensure all Kenyans are safe,” said Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi.

    The MPs donated their yesterday’s sitting allowances to the victims.

    The Sh2 million was given to Red Cross secretary-general Abbas Gullet who thanked the lawmakers for the gesture.

  • BBC News – 24 September 2013 Last updated at 11:06 GMT
    Q&A: Who are Somalia’s al-Shabab?

    Somalia’s al-Shabab, which has carried out the deadly attack on a shopping centre in neighbouring Kenya, is linked with al-Qaeda. It has been pushed out of all of the main towns it once controlled in southern and central parts of Somalia, but still remains a potent threat.

    Who are al-Shabab?

    Al-Shabab means The Youth in Arabic. It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in 2006, as it fought Ethiopian forces who had entered Somalia to back the weak interim government.

    There are numerous reports of foreign jihadists going to Somalia to help al-Shabab and it has formed links with al-Qaeda.

    It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

    It has imposed a strict version of Sharia law in areas under its control, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.

    How much of Somalia does al-Shabab control?

    Although it has lost control of the towns and cities, its writ still runs in many rural areas.

    It was forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011 and left the vital port of Kismayo in September 2012.

    Kismayo had been a key asset for the militants, allowing supplies to reach areas under their control and providing taxes for their operations.

    The African Union (AU), which is supporting government forces, hailed both as major victories, however al-Shabab still carries out fairly frequent suicide attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

    Analysts believe al-Shabab is increasingly focusing on guerrilla warfare to counter the firepower of AU forces.

    But the group is under pressure on several fronts following Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in 2011. Kenya accused al-Shabab fighters of kidnapping tourists, and its forces, now under the AU banner, have been in the forefront of the push against al-Shabab in the south up to Kismayo.

    Meanwhile, Ethiopian forces moved in from the west and seized control of the central towns of Beledweyne and Baidoa.

    Who is al-Shabab’s leader?

    Ahmed Abdi Godane is the head of the group. Known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair, he comes from the northern breakaway region of Somaliland.

    Mr Godane is rarely seen in public. His predecessor, Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro, was killed in a US airstrike in 2008.

    Mr Godane, who was behind the group’s tie-up with al-Qaeda and has a hardline, international agenda has recently emerged victorious from an internal power-struggle.

    His rival, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, is more focussed on the struggle within Somalia. He is now in government custody, while several of his allies have been killed.

    The attack on the Nairobi shopping centre could be intended as a sign that Mr Godane has firmly cemented his control of the group.

    What are al-Shabab’s foreign links?

    Al-Shabab joined al-Qaeda in February 2012. In a joint video, al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane said he “pledged obedience” to al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

    The two groups have long worked together and foreigners are known to fight alongside Somali militants.

    US officials believe that with al-Qaeda on the retreat in Afghanistan and Pakistan following the killing of Osama bin Laden, its fighters will increasingly take refuge in Somalia.

    UK security officials have long warned of the danger of British radicals getting training in Somalia and then going home to carry out attacks.

    There have also been numerous reports that al-Shabab may have formed some links with other militants groups in Africa, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

    Has al-Shabab carried out attacks outside Somalia?

    Al-Shabab has said it carried out the deadly assault on a shopping centre in Nairobi on 21 September, in which at least 68 people were killed.

    It was responsible for a double suicide bombing in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, which killed 76 people watching the 2010 football World Cup final on television.

    The attack was carried out because Uganda – along with Burundi – provided the bulk of the AU troops in Somalia before the Kenyans went in.

    Analysts say the militants often enter and leave Kenya without being intercepted. Their fighters are said to even visit the capital, Nairobi, for medical treatment.

    The 2002 twin attacks on Israeli targets near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa were allegedly planned in Somalia by an al-Qaeda cell, while the US believes some of the al-Qaeda operatives who carried out the 1998 attacks on its embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam then fled to Somalia.

    Who are al-Shabab’s backers?

    Eritrea is its only regional ally. It denies claims it supplies arms to al-Shabab.

    Eritrea supports al-Shabab to counter the influence of Ethiopia, its bitter enemy.

    With the backing of the US, Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia in 2006 to defeat the Islamists. The Ethiopian forces withdrew in 2009 after suffering heavy casualties.

    After intervening again in 2011, it says it will hand over the territory it has seized to the AU.

    What about the Somali government?

    The president is a former academic and activist, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. He was elected in 2012 by the newly chosen Somali parliament, under a UN-brokered peace process.

    He defeated ex-President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed – a former Islamist rebel fighter, whose three years in power were criticised by donors who said corruption was rife.

    Al-Shabab has denounced the process as being a foreign plot to control Somalia.

    Somalia is pretty much a failed state. It has not had an effective national government for about 20 years, during which much of the country has been a constant war-zone.

    This made it easy for al-Shabab, when it first emerged, to win support among Somalis. It promised people security – something they welcomed.

    But its credibility was knocked when it rejected Western food aid to combat the 2011 drought and famine.

    Al-Shabab advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis. Al-Shabab has destroyed a large number of Sufi shrines, causing its popularity to further plummet.

    However, with Mogadishu and other towns now under government control, there is a new feeling of hope in the country and many Somalis have returned from exile, bringing their money and skills with them.

    With services such as dry cleaning and rubbish collection opening, maybe Somalia can finally re-emerge from the ashes of the past two decades.

  • Uhuru Kenyatta is the Only Chosen Kikuyu King (mothamki)

    More Lies Comming from Nsis Boys KDF over-eight Lazy and corrupt Uhuruto General and CID Kikuyuand Ruto Kimaiyo aka-shoot to kill trigger-hapy corrupt boys>
    http://www.kenyan-post.com/2013/09/3-floors-of-westgate-shopping-mall.html

  • Furious Kenya MPs blame Westgate Mall tragedy on laxity of security officials
    Updated Tuesday, September 24th 2013 at 23:40 GMT +3

    By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

    National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi led MPs in marking a minute-long silence in memory of those killed in the Westgate terror attack.

    In silence, the MPs reflected on the horrifying events of the mall tragedy yesterday.

    It was the calm before a storm – when the MPs started debating the incident, they had no kind words for the country’s security managers.

    The MPs lauded the police, medics, volunteers and civilian Kenyans for their support in helping the victims of the four-day siege. “We are a nation in mourning, but we are a nation more united in spirit and in deed,” said the Speaker in a special announcement in the House at which he thanked the MPs for donating Sh2 million towards a kitty for all the terror victims and their families.

    The House then went into an emergency session to discuss the security situation and the weekend tragedy. MPs jostled to air their opinions, and at one point the special digital system showed that there were 100 MPs who had asked for the Speaker’s go-ahead to contribute on the matter.

    Hard questions

    The lawmakers expressed outrage at the security lapse that allowed the terrorists, among them foreigners, into the country smuggling in arms and holding the military in a stand-off for four days. “Some real hard questions will have to be asked to our security operators and all these bodies that use a lot of taxpayers’ money,” said Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso.

    Timothy Wanyonyi in whose constituency the terror attack happened condemned the incident and pushed for reforms in the security apparatus.

    “We put individuals in positions and they can’t perform, I believe. This thing did not just happen, it was planned and meticulously executed,” said Wanyonyi, as he lamented over huge intelligence gathering failure before the attack.

    Minority Leader Francis Nyenze and Majority Leader Adan Duale also condemned the attack.

    Duale whose Garissa Township constituency, has been engulfed in terror since Kenya sent its soldiers into neighbouring Somalia, said the raid should be a wake-up call for the government to institute security reforms.

    œThis is the time to evaluate the security of our country. This is the time to assess whether the men and women we have in charge of our security are working. Our security is paramount. I’m sure the President and the government will have something to do about it,” he said.

    The House lauded the Kenya Red Cross for their prompt response and asked that the disaster management department be scrapped and that mandate given to the Red Cross. “We don’t need to have a disaster management department; we need to give the Kenya Red Cross money,” said Duale.

    Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) who was caught up in the attack with his wife and two children, said: “I almost lost my family.” He thanked an officer, Frank Musungu, for saving his family. “What I saw there, I could not believe. When I heard the gunfire, I don’t know how I left that place. As I was taking off, I took off with my wife and two children,” said Wamalwa.

    At the same time, the chairman of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, Ndung’u Gethenji (Tetu), appreciated the work the authorities had done in securing hostages and neutralising the situation. But he complained that corruption in the security apparatus was to blame for the lapse.

    The chairman of the Administration and National Security Committee of the National Assembly, Asman Kamama, said his team would audit security. Fatuma Ibrahim (Wajir County MP) lamented that such attacks were rampant in Wajir, but the authorities had not taken the threats seriously.

  • Kenyans blundered big time by electing Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Kenyans had better choices, but they thought otherwise and acting without thinking hard enough. UhuRuto are the two people that should be farthest from power especially at this very critical juncture.

    Did you see how Uhuru’s government [mis]managed the terrorist attack? That is, before and after the attacks. Kenyan Intelligence had no clue that the country was a terrorist target (that’s Gichangi’s fault), and when they were attacked it took the government forever to resolve the issue. It left a lot to be desired. The Deputy President was sitting in 5-Star hotel at The Hague watching CNN, BBC updates and Skyping, while the other fellow was busy taking liquor shots, while being updated by a clumsy former hotelier (Ole Lenku) who knows zilch about about security matters.

    Heads must start rolling, and the first two individual that need to resign are Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security Joseph Ole Lenku and Maj. Gen. Michael Gichangi – Head of National Intelligence Service (NIS).

    Ole Lenku did not get that position by virtue of merit, but as an appeasement to the Maasai/Samburu voting bloc. (Joseph Ole Nkaissery or even Andrew ole Sunkuli could do a better job). Such sensitive jobs should be given to the best candidate irrespective of tribe/race or religion.

    What Gichangi is supposed to be doing and what is he is actually doing are so far apart. Gichangi is more of a political spy rather than National Security, which makes him redundant. What he does 90% of the time is to check Raila and his political cohorts and their actions. (Similar to checking Mwakenya during the Mo1 ‘error’).

    Whilst Gichangi was busying playing political spy, the true enemy reared its ugly head, and it was not the Opposition, but terrorists misusing Islamic religion who are ready to kill women and children. Gichangi was gotten flat-footed, and as a result about 200+ innocent human beings were either killed or maimed. Gichangi’s Humint was all concentrated in CORD, rather that where it should have been.

    Heads must roll, and if it was me to decide, Uhuru, Ruto, Ole Lenku and Gichangi would be home either preparing for their ICC Cases, or at the hotel or enjoying retirement taking care of grandchildren.

    Sometimes the truth has to be said, however bitter it may be otherwise Kenya may be a victim of another terrorist attack.

    Jubilee report card so far:

    •Hustler Jet.
    •Hustler Mansion Renovation.
    •Teachers Strike.
    •Govt Spokesperson/Ole Lenku – VIP lounge & cars contradiction.
    •Naivasha Maasai Eviction debacle.
    •JKIA Inferno.
    •VAT Bill (Exempt/Non-exempt commodities) contradiction.
    •Rome Statute Withdrawal timing.

    Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko sensationally told the Senate that security organs and intelligence officers were aware of an impending attack on key areas in Nairobi, including the Westgate Mall.

    He said the women had approached him three months ago with information to the effect that the gang, which had rented a house in Parklands and Westlands, were planning a major attack.

    “They mentioned Westgate Mall, Village Market, Parliament and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre as their targets,” claimed Sonko.

    He said the two women were initially living with the gang in the rented houses but had escaped after being showed the items that the suspects were preparing for the attack.
    Though the Senator declined to give the exact details that the two women gave the police, he said that he was ready to record a statement to that effect.
    “I know I will shock many people here. These people have remained in this area planning the attack for about three months and despite the investigators getting that information they could not quell the attack,” said Sonko.

    “Instead of the intelligence officers keeping busy tapping our mobile phones, NSIS should be employing that vigour towards arresting crime,” said Minority Deputy Whip Janet Ong’era.

    If this is true you know that NSIS were fully staffed on Raila and Owalo at this time. As soon as Kenya recovers from this one, the President has a concert to attend at The Hague. Kenya is lurching from one crisis to another. Meanwhile, where are the Chinese? We have Americans and the British involvement yet they are often resented by Uhuruto. Are the Chinese only interested in trade and not humanitarian assistance?

  • A kenya with millions of Problems
  • Attack well planned

    Before Kenya Attack, Rehearsals and Planting of Machine Guns

    By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, NICHOLAS KULISH and ERIC SCHMITT

    Published: September 24, 2013

    NAIROBI, Kenya — The plot was hatched weeks or months ago on Somali soil, by the Shabab’s “external operations arm,” officials say. A team of English-speaking foreign fighters was carefully selected, along with a target: Nairobi’s gleaming Westgate mall.

    The building’s blueprints were studied, down to the ventilation ducts. The attack was rehearsed and the team dispatched, slipping undetected through Kenya’s porous borders, often patrolled by underpaid — and deeply corrupt — border guards.

    A day or two before the attack, powerful belt-fed machine guns were secretly stashed in a shop in the mall with the help of a colluding employee, officials say. At least one militant had even packed a change of clothes so he could slip out with fleeing civilians after the killings were done.

    That is the picture emerging from American security officials of the massacre at the Westgate mall, which killed scores of people over the weekend. After a four-day standoff, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya claimed Tuesday to have finally “ashamed and defeated our attackers,” declaring that the last militants still holed up inside the mall had been killed, though the bodies of many civilians, perhaps dozens, had yet to be recovered.

    Mr. Kenyatta said that “intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved,” but that he could not confirm those reports. American officials said that they had not determined the identities of the attackers and were awaiting DNA tests and footage from the mall’s security cameras, but that they did know the massacre had been meticulously planned to draw “maximum exposure.”

    “They had people in there, they had stuff inside there,” said an American security official who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “This was all ready to go when the shooters walked in.”

    Kenya is now entering an official three-day period of mourning to mark one of the most unsettling episodes in its recent history. The authorities here, in a country widely perceived as an oasis of peace and prosperity in a troubled region, are struggling to answer how 10 to 15 Islamist extremists could lay siege to a shopping mall, killing more than 60 civilians with military-grade weaponry, then hold off Kenyan security forces for days.

    On multiple occasions, the Kenyan government said the mall was under its control, only to have fighting burst out again. Earlier on Tuesday, the Shabab, the Somali Islamist group that has taken responsibility for the attack, bragged in a Twitter message that their fighters were “still holding their ground.”

    Western security officials fear that several fighters slipped out of the mall during the mayhem of the attack, dropping their guns and disguising themselves as civilians, an account echoed by some witnesses.

    And the death toll could keep going up. The Kenya Red Cross said Tuesday that more than 50 people were missing.

    The way the attack was carried out may have had something to do with the recent killing of Omar Hammami, a Shabab fighter who grew up in Alabama and became a phantomlike figure across the Somali deserts, known by his nom de guerre: Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, “the American.” Mr. Hammami was fatally shot by another wing of the Shabab less than two weeks ago.

    One reason for the rift was Mr. Hammami’s complaints that the Shabab had become too brutal toward fellow Muslims under the leadership of the group’s emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane. That brutality, Mr. Hammami said, was the reason the Shabab had become so unpopular in Somalia and lost so much territory recently.

    Stig Jarle Hansen, a Norwegian researcher who has published a book on the Shabab, said this rift might explain why the militants in the Nairobi mall decided to spare the lives of many Muslims. In the past, the Shabab have killed countless Muslims in Somalia with suicide bombs and buried Muslim girls up to their necks in sand and stoned them.

    “Even Osama bin Laden criticized Godane for being too harsh,” Mr. Hansen said. “This attack might have been Godane’s way of saying, ‘See, I’m not so harsh — to Muslims.’ ”

    Some Muslims were indeed killed in the mall. But many survivors of the attack said the militants had questioned people at gunpoint about their religion, ruthlessly sorting out non-Muslims for execution. Aleem Manji, a Kenyan radio announcer, remembered that as he uttered an Islamic prayer to save his life, the gunman threatening to kill him spoke fluent English.

    His accent was “light,” Mr. Manji recalled, saying it definitely was not Kenyan.

    American officials — who said they based their reconstruction of the plot on intelligence reports, witness statements and intercepted electronic messages — say the Shabab may have recruited English speakers from the United States and possibly other Western countries so that they would be able to operate effectively in Kenya, where English, along with Swahili, is the national language. Some survivors, including a newspaper vendor who watched one militant mercilessly shoot a toddler in the legs, said other gunmen had been young and either Somali or Arab.

    American officials said the militants must have had a back office in Kenya, a safe house to finalize their plot and store their guns. Witnesses said several militants had toted G3 assault rifles, a bulky weapon that Kenyan security services use. Intelligence analysts say this may mean the militants acquired their weapons from corrupt Kenyan officers, who are known to sell or rent out their guns, charging as little as a few dollars an hour.

    After killing scores of shoppers, the militants retreated into a supermarket and used belt-fed machine guns to hold off the Kenyan forces, killing at least six members.

    “You don’t bring something like a crew-served weapon through the door,” an American official said, referring to heavy machine guns. “Those must have been stored well beforehand.”

    Another mystery: the women. Many witnesses have been emphatic that they saw at least two female militants, armed to the teeth and dressed in fatigues. Earlier, Kenyan officials asserted that there had been no women among the shooters, but on Tuesday Mr. Kenyatta seemed to revive the possibility that one of the assailants was a British woman.

    Several intelligence analysts in Nairobi speculated that the woman was Samantha Lewthwaite, a Muslim convert who had been married to one of the suicide bombers who struck London in 2005.

    Kenyan authorities suspected that Ms. Lewthwaite had risen up through the ranks of extremist groups and was leading a terrorism cell on the Kenyan coast; though they nearly swooped in on her in 2011, she escaped. In Kenya, she is now known as “the white widow.”

    Jeffrey Gettleman and Nicholas Kulish reported from Nairobi, and Eric Schmitt from Washington

    New York Times.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/world/africa/kenya-mall-shooting.html?_r=0

  • Attack well planned

    Some Muslims were indeed killed in the mall. But many survivors of the attack said the militants had questioned people at gunpoint about their religion, ruthlessly sorting out non-Muslims for execution. Aleem Manji, a Kenyan radio announcer, remembered that as he uttered an Islamic prayer to save his life, the gunman threatening to kill him spoke fluent English.

    His accent was “light,” Mr. Manji recalled, saying it definitely was not Kenyan.

    American officials — who said they based their reconstruction of the plot on intelligence reports, witness statements and intercepted electronic messages — say the Shabab may have recruited English speakers from the United States and possibly other Western countries so that they would be able to operate effectively in Kenya, where English, along with Swahili, is the national language. Some survivors, including a newspaper vendor who watched one militant mercilessly shoot a toddler in the legs, said other gunmen had been young and either Somali or Arab.

    American officials said the militants must have had a back office in Kenya, a safe house to finalize their plot and store their guns. Witnesses said several militants had toted G3 assault rifles, a bulky weapon that Kenyan security services use. Intelligence analysts say this may mean the militants acquired their weapons from corrupt Kenyan officers, who are known to sell or rent out their guns, charging as little as a few dollars an hour.

    After killing scores of shoppers, the militants retreated into a supermarket and used belt-fed machine guns to hold off the Kenyan forces, killing at least six members.

    “You don’t bring something like a crew-served weapon through the door,” an American official said, referring to heavy machine guns. “Those must have been stored well beforehand.”

    Another mystery: the women. Many witnesses have been emphatic that they saw at least two female militants, armed to the teeth and dressed in fatigues. Earlier, Kenyan officials asserted that there had been no women among the shooters, but on Tuesday Mr. Kenyatta seemed to revive the possibility that one of the assailants was a British woman.

    Several intelligence analysts in Nairobi speculated that the woman was Samantha Lewthwaite, a Muslim convert who had been married to one of the suicide bombers who struck London in 2005.

    Kenyan authorities suspected that Ms. Lewthwaite had risen up through the ranks of extremist groups and was leading a terrorism cell on the Kenyan coast; though they nearly swooped in on her in 2011, she escaped. In Kenya, she is now known as “the white widow.”

    Jeffrey Gettleman and Nicholas Kulish reported from Nairobi, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/world/africa/kenya-mall-shooting.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0

  • Svenskar i kulregnet

    Publicerad den 25 september 2013 16:36 | av Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (TT)

    Svenskar i kulregnet i Kenya

    I Kenya råder landssorg efter terrorattacken i köpcentret Westgate. Berättelser sprids nu från dramat. “Jag tog min son och sprang så snabbt jag kunde”, säger en svensk rödakorsdelegat som befann sig i köpcentret.

    Kenya har inlett tre dagars landssorg för offren i terrorattacken i köpcentret Westgate.

    Flera berättelser sprids nu från människor som hamnade i terrordramat. Många av offren var barn.

    Svenska rödakorsdelegaten Gisela Holmén Yngrot befann sig i köpcentret tillsammans med sin man och deras lille son när terroristerna slog till.

    “Vi stod vid grönsakerna, då det hördes skott omkring 20 meter från oss. Jag tog min son och sprang så snabbt jag kunde. Vi försökte nå nödutgången men möttes av en massa människor som sprang emot oss”, berättar Holmén Yngrot på danska Røde Kors webbplats.

    – Min son, som fyller två år i nästa vecka, satt i en sådan där varukorg som ser ut som en liten bil. Jag bara plockade upp honom och så sprang vi i väg det fortaste vi kunde för de sköt ju så nära. När vi tittade bakåt hade de kastat handgranater mot den plats där vi hade stått. Vår son blev mycket orolig och skrämd av allt som smällde och vi försökte lugna honom med att sjunga, säger hon till TT.

    Den svenska familjen hamnade till slut i en lagerlokal tillsammans med 150 andra människor, många av dem barn.

    “Vi blockerade de två dörrarna med stora lådor och andra tunga saker. Vi låg där i tre och en halv timme och försökte lugna vår son med att sjunga och berätta sagor. Senare fick vi veta att terroristerna hade försökt att komma in i lokalen”, berättar Holmén Yngrot.

    Efter flera timmar lyckades kenyansk militär rädda de instängda.

    – Det som gav mig extra styrka när vi till slut kunde ta oss ut ur byggnaden var att jag såg mina kolleger i Kenyas Röda kors som var i full gång med att hjälpa alla som flytt, säger Holmén Yngrot till TT och lägger till att hon och hennes man valde att börja arbeta i måndags.

    – Även om jag kanske inte var lika produktiv som vanligt så var det skönt av vara omgiven av sitt arbetslag och sina kolleger. Det känns ganska bra att komma tillbaka på det sättet. Dessutom känner jag ett mycket stort stöd från kolleger och alla rödakorsorganisationerna.

    En av de mest tragiska händelserna inträffade alldeles i början av terroraktionen, berättar Holmén Yngrot.

    – På en av köpcentrets takterrasser pågick en matlagningstävling för skolbarn. De kom från alla håll och började skjuta på barnen, många träffades.

    Hennes danska kollega Jeanette Bækmark bor nära köpcentret. Även om hon och hennes familj inte drabbades direkt har hon haft svårt att förklara för sina barn att några av deras klasskamrater på den internationella skolan i Nairobi troligen är döda.

    Ett besvärligt och farligt röjningsarbete pågår. Hjälparbetare kunde rapportera om liklukt, sönderrasade tak och rädslan för att terroristerna hunnit placera ut ännu odetonerade sprängladdningar. Till sin hjälp har röjningsmanskapet specialtränade hundar.

    Den senaste dödssiffran ligger på 61 civila samt 7 poliser. Men över 60 människor rapporterades saknade ännu på onsdagsmorgonen.

    Det återstår fortfarande tio kroppar att identifiera vid bårhuset i centrala Nairobi, säger patologen Jahnsen Oduor.

    38 kroppar har förts till bårhuset sedan attacken mot Westgate-gallerian. Nästan alla dödsoffer hade skottskador och dog av blodförlust. Bland de döda fanns både kenyaner och utlänningar, säger Jahnsen Oduor till den kenyanska tidningen The Star.

    Terrornätverket al-Shabaab hävdar via Twitter att 137 personer är döda, men att det är den kenyanska regeringen som skjutit gisslan och sedan sprängt köpcentret “för att begrava bevis och alla i gisslan under ruinerna”. Siffran 137 motsvarar det officiella antalet döda och saknade.

    Regimen anklagas också för att ha beskjutit köpcentret med kemvapen.

    Brittiska UD bekräftade i dag kortfattat att en man som greps på Nairobis internationella flygplats i måndags är brittisk medborgare. Det hette att brittiska konsulära myndigheter har erbjudit mannen hjälp.

    35-åringen greps enligt Londontidningen The Daily Mail på Jomo Kenyatta-flygplatsen, i samband med terrordramats kulmen. Han hade försökt flyga till Istanbul och uppträtt märkligt.

    Han uppgavs ha skador i ansiktet som han dolde under solglasögon. Under förhör ska mannen ha sagt att han fått skadorna under ett besök i Somalia.

    Uppgifterna om ett gripande bekräftas också av kenyansk säkerhetspolis.

  • Gichangi bure kabisa
  • Let us not sit idle and accept rubbish from tamed mass-media of Uhuru&Ruto.

    Some people appearing in these Videos looks suspicious theeir characters (Muslim fanatic looking their business in Kenya whether they are foreigners ? Born in Kenya or People came in kenya /bought-out Citi-zens A>nd exploit stupid Silly and idiot Kenya society that never questions foreigners in kenya especiall Muslim looking fellows becouse in Coast Province /Mombasa/Malindi has millions of Muslims some anti-kenya govt and who hates westerners!

  • Don’t you think there were any property management weaknesses that could hav aided the said attack

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