Westgate terrorist attack. The Inside Story.

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Westgate Mall, Nairobi, 4 days terrorist attack, claimed by the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab, has started at 01:00 pm of September 21, when 15 terrorist has started to open fire with AK47 and hand grenades on the customers and workers inside all the four flours of Westgate Mall.

Red Cross report 65 dead and 200 injured between them President Kenyatta’s nephew, his fiancé and the popular TV and radio presenter Ruhila Adatia-Sood.

Foreign victims are reported from several nationalities: Canadian, French, US, British, Peruvian, Chinese. Between them 29 years old Canadian diplomat, USAID diplomat’s wife and Ghanaian diplomat and famous poet Koffi Awoonor.

The rescue operation has officially end at 03:00 pm of September 24, 2013.

The terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall , Nairobi , hides many doubts about the dynamics , terrorist objectives and the Government military response .

The terrorists have managed to evade security checks and enter into the mall with backpacks full of hand grenades, AK47 and a large supply of magazines. It is suspected that they could count on the complicity of someone inside Watergate security personnel .

Terrorist may have introduced heavy weapons and ammunition one week before the attack hiding the military arsenal in different place of the commercial center. If this information will be confirmed will strengthening the inside complicity suspects.  

The command was composed of 15 terrorists trained Kenyans perfectly able to face police and military for almost 04 days of intense fighting inside the building. The command did not choose to use high explosives but conventional weapons that have “limited” the number of victims. The real objective may be to humiliate Kenyan police and army and to show that Al-Shabaab is not a dead force as common is believed after the military success reported by African Union invasion force AMISOM, according to some regional military advisers.

The choice of the Westgate Mall was not random . Al-Shabaab wanted to hit Kenyan upper and middle class media and expatriates community in Nairobi. Westgate shopping center is located in the residential area of
Westland , where lives the most richest Kenyans and there are several international NGOs and UN agencies offices.
Even the time was horribly perfect. At 13 on Saturday the Westgate has the highest frequency of visitors.
Most probably on D-Day the terrorist entered into the Mall in little groups of two in different moments. Each group was directing to strategic position in each of the four building floors.

According survival witness the terrorist group positioned in the floor where there was a child cooking competition organized by a local radio has open fire for first follow by the other groups in each floor. The attackers first told to Muslims to leave the Mall and shortly after they open fire with AK47 and hand grenade killing whiteout pities the children. A clear act of hypocrisy. Almost 30% of Westgate victim are Muslims.    

The attack of the police was not planned and has turned into a disaster for the unprecedented duration of the operation and the high number of casualties. Many hostages were killed during the fight.
“We had the plan of the building and did not know the locations of the terrorists. We fought blindly ” say one police officer who participated in the fighting Sunday contacted by phone.

“The anti-terrorism special forces trained by the Americans and Israelis has not intervene till monday. We had not even bullet-proof jackets and shields. The tear gas that could enable us to more quickly neutralize the terrorists were not used . The General Staff of the Army and the Police Command have us sent inside the building  without coordination. If the operation had been better planified there would be fewer victims .”

The final assault on Sept 23 has been done in collaboration with Israeli military advisers and MOSSAD agents directly involved in the operation. The news has been confirmed by Israeli sources in Nairobi and Tel-Aviv. Westgate shopping center has several Israeli owned shops and is frequented by many Israeli expatriated. All Israeli who where inside the Mall at the time of attack has made it out safely.

Mystery remains on terrorist nationality. Several witnesses affirm that were all Kenyans. At the contrary Kenyan authorities asserts that the terrorist group was composed by men of different nationalities included 4 American, 1 Canadian, 1 Finnish and Arabs. Only 2 terrorist were Kenyan according to official statements.  Peter King, member of the US House Security Commitee, has confirmed Kenyan Governement version. He said that Al-Qaida has recruited up to 50 people from Somali US communities.

If these accusation will be confirmed represents a turning point in the relation between Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda, really deteriorated during 2012 – 2013 because of ideological divergences between the two terrorist organization. Al-Qaeda has preferred to put its attention and financial resources to other African terrorist group like Boko Haram, Malian Mujahidin and Syrian fighting Islamic groups.   

What seem certain is the presence of 03 women inside the terrorist commando, one of them arrested on 2011 for evident links with Al-Shabaab terrorist attack in Mombasa, according Citizen TV. The woman was able to escape from the prison on 2012 to reappear last Saturday to participate in the horrible carnage on Naiorbi shopping centre.

 Westagate has been individuate by US and South African Intelligences long time before as strategic terrorist attack. Despite Kenyan Government was well informed has never reinforced the security, convinced that Al-Shabaab was not able to lunch large scale attack in the capital.

The terrace of multi-store complex are adjacent to a road along which cars can pass without security check. Untrained and not well paid private security guards normally do a rapid cursory body  check sometimes with hand metal detector off. Car entering in the Westgate parking are quick inaccurate check.

According to regional experts this tragedy could be used both domestically and internationally by President Kenyatta Urhuru for compacted against the front of his trial and that of Vice President William Ruto at the Tribunal of the International Criminal Court.

The political exploitation of attacks is not new in the region. In July 2010, the attack in Kampala, it also madeby Al- Shabaab , was tapped by President Yoweri Museveni to amend the Constitution allowing to stand for presidential elections of 2011 where he won yet another term at the helm of the country.
Al- Shabaab – affiliated to al- Qaeda movement , born in Somalia in mid-2006 with the aim of applying Sharia law throughout the territory of Somalia and to create an Islamic emirate – has been shown to be able to realize the threat made to fight the war in Somalia in Kenya.

Evidence of a political exploitation of Westgate terrorist attack has given by Vice President Willian Ruto. During a conference press on Jomo Kenyatta International Airport returning from ICC trial in Hague, Vice President has started his statement to the Nation speaking about his trial and his happiness to be back in Kenya and to be near to his own people during this dramatic time. Mr. Ruto has done ather several references to ICC trial during all his statement.

Westgate terrorist attack has straight the unity felling and patriotism of Kenyans, normally divided by tribe issue, well exploited by former President Kibaki, former Prime Minister Odinga, Mr. Ruto and President Kenyatta to create the post election ethnic clash on 2008. Thousand and thousand of citizen has voluntarily donate their blood for the terrorist attack victims and in less than 3 days almost $4 million to support the victims. Unlucky most probably this patriotism and genuine humanitarian feeling of Kenya population will be exploited by President and Vice President as form of pressures to avoid their trials to ICC for crimes against humanity.

by Fulvio Beltrami
Free Lance Journalist
Uganda, Kampala

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  1. Chi sono gli shabaab e perché hanno attaccato a Nairobi? | AfroFocus - 25 settembre 2013

    […] obiettivi dei terroristi e risposta delle forze di sicurezza è possibile leggere l’articolo Westgate terrorist attack. The Inside Story scritto da Fulvio Beltrami e pubblicato sul blog African […]

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