Americans, Briton among Westgate attackers, Government says
The government says at least “two or three Americans” and one British woman were involved in the attack on Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed told an American TV channel the “professional” attackers were in collaboration with others around the world to kill people on a shopping weekend.
“Both the victims and the perpetrators came from Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States. From the information that we have, two or three Americans (were involved), and so far I have heard of one Brit woman, I think she has done this before,” she told he Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) on Monday evening.
One of the Americans, she said, was of ‘Somali or Arab’ origin and had lived in the US state of Minnesota for sometime before he was recruited into terrorism.
“It (the attack) was very professional, it was very well coordinated. It is clearer, I think, to the government now that Al-Shabaab has been working for quite some time with others in other parts of the world to increase their outreach.”
Ms Mohammed, who is in the US for a UN meeting and also directly affected by the attack, spoke hours after Kenya Defence Forces Chief Julius Karangi told journalists in Nairobi that they had gotten “an idea” of who the assailants were.
“We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient intel to suggest that,” Gen Karangi told reporters at Oshwal Centre in Nairobi.
“We have an idea of who these people are now. We have an idea who they are and their nationalities and even their number,” he added.
The attack at Westgate Mall, in which a group of terrorists believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab held hostages from Saturday killing at least 62 people, had also led to hundreds of injuries.
On Monday, there was gunfire and explosions which were later succeeded with a huge cloud of dark smoke, then calm before security agents revealed they had cornered the terrorists.
The government was expected to reveal further details on the incident but sources indicated there were ten attackers, mostly ‘foreign’, who had been ‘neutralised’ before freeing a section of last hostages found alive in the building.
The Kenya Police later tweeted that “we have triumphed” before later announcing that there would be an official communiqué from the government.
Ms Mohammed admitted the attack had been shocking, looked “new” and offered a challenge to all those concerned “to look each other in the eye” in the fight against terrorism.
“It tells us that, as governments we must do better, if they can coordinate their evil at that level, that governments around the world must cooperate even more, that they must be ready to share resources, we must be able to share our intelligence, we must be able to combine our efforts to just make sure that we stay ahead of the curve. This is a totally new way of doing business for them.”
“We shouldn’t let them get away with this.”
Although Al-Shabaab later claimed responsibility and said the attack was retaliation for Kenya’s pursuit of the Somali militants since 2011, Ms Mohammed said there would be no stopping in the war against terrorism.
“I think we are more strengthened in our resolve to do our best to uproot Al-Shabaab everywhere and anywhere we find them. We went in not because we liked going into Somalia, we went in because we wanted to protect our security and economic interests.”
She admitted that the Dadaab refugee camp, had offered challenges in fighting Al-shabaab but the government would follow the required procedure in having refugees return to their homeland.