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Old 09-22-2013, 11:04 AM   #1
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Nairobi Mall Terrorist Attack/Hostage Crisis

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NAIROBI, Kenya — The deadly siege at a mall in Nairobi continued Sunday, as the Kenyan government struggled with the question of whether to storm the Shabab militant attackers still holed up inside or keep trying to free people trapped inside after more than 24 hours.

“I am aware that many have expressed impatience over the pace at which the situation is unfolding,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in an address to the nation on Sunday, “and while I empathize with your anxiety at seeing the matter concluded as quickly as possible, I ask also for understanding.”

Mr. Kenyatta said that more than 1,000 people had been rescued from the mall at the time of the attack, calling it “remarkable and encouraging.” But the death toll from the militant assault on the crowded Westgate mall the day before continued to rise, climbing to 59. Among them were Mr. Kenyatta’s nephew and his fiancée, he said in his speech.

“These are young, lovely people I personally knew and loved. Many of us have lost loved ones,” Mr. Kenyatta said. “Let us mourn them all as one nation and keep them always in remembrance and prayer.”

Joseph Ole Lenku, the cabinet secretary for the interior, said on Sunday that the number of wounded had risen to 175, though many had been treated and discharged. “Overnight more people were evacuated from the mall, but a number still remain,” he said. “The government will go out of its way to make sure we do not lose lives.”

A huge contingent of Kenyan security forces kept the mall cordoned off Sunday, but officials confirmed that many attackers — between 10 and 15, according to Mr. Lenku — were still inside and active, and that an uncertain number of bystanders remained trapped or in hiding.

The prospect of more violence was tangible, even as a deeply shaken public began to come to grips with the toll already inflicted.

The identities of several victims began to come out Sunday, and with it the public mourning of a national tragedy had begun. The local news media reported that a popular radio host was among those killed, as was an elderly poet and professor from Ghana.

The radio host, Ruhila Adatia-Sood, was in the parking lot of the Westgate mall where she was hosting a cooking competition, according to reports. She had posted several photos on her Instagram account before the attack.

Also among the dead was Kofi Awoonor, 78, a Ghanaian poet and former professor at the University of Ghana. He was also the former chairman of the Council of State.

As the morning wore on helicopters continued to circle above the mall and the sound of intermittent gunfire crackled. Medical personnel loaded a wounded member of the security forces dressed in camouflage into an ambulance in the garage of a nearby community complex.

The mall, called Westgate, is a symbol of Kenya’s rising prosperity, an impressive five-story building where Kenyans can buy expensive cups of frozen yogurt and plates of sushi. On Saturdays, it is especially crowded, and American officials have long warned that Nairobi’s malls were ripe targets for terrorists.

Fred Ngoga Gateretse, an official with the African Union, was having coffee at the ArtCaffe coffee shop on the ground floor around noon on Saturday when he heard two deafening blasts. He cowered on the floor and watched eight gunmen with scarves twisted over their faces firing at shoppers and then up at Kenyan police officers who were shooting down from a balcony as panicked shoppers dashed for cover. “Believe me, these guys were good shooters,” Mr. Gateretse said. “You could tell they were trained.”

Even as the fight continued into Sunday afternoon, with the attackers contained to the mall’s third floor, the Kenyan news media reported that one wounded gunman had been captured and died in a hospital. Several witnesses also said one of the attackers was a woman.

Several witnesses said the attackers had shouted for Muslims to run away while they picked off other shoppers, executing them one by one. The mall, one of Nairobi’s most luxurious, with glass elevators and some of the most expensive shops in town, is also popular with expatriates. It has served as the place for a power lunch, to catch a movie, to bring children for ice cream.

Four Americans were believed to have been injured in the attack, American officials said, and none were reported killed. Secretary of State John Kerry, who called the attack “a heartbreaking reminder that there exists unspeakable evil in our world,” said the wife of a local employee of the American government was among the dead. Two Canadians, one of them a diplomat based in Nairobi, and two French citizens were killed, their governments said.

Ilana Stein, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the attack initially took place near the ArtCaffe, an Israeli-owned coffee shop and bakery popular with foreigners that is one of 80 businesses in the mall. Ms. Stein said that one Israeli had been lightly injured, that three others had escaped unharmed and that Israelis had not been specifically targeted. “This time, the story is not about Israel,” Ms. Stein said.

On Sunday, Israeli officials denied reports that the country’s security services had gotten involved in the standoff in Nairobi. But a report on the news site Ynet cited a senior Israeli security source as saying that Israeli “consultants” had been helping the Kenyans “formulate a negotiation strategy to resolve the crisis.”

A confidential United Nations security report on Saturday described the mall attack as “a complex, two-pronged assault” with two squads of gunmen dashing into the mall from different floors at the same time and opening fire.

The Shabab, an Islamist militant group based in Somalia, took responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Kenya’s military operations in Somalia, which began nearly two years ago. “Kenya will not get peace unless they pull their military out of Somalia,” said Ali Mohamoud Rage, the Shabab’s spokesman, in a radio address. The Shabab also sent out a barrage of buoyant Twitter messages, bragging about the prowess of their fighters before Twitter abruptly suspended the account late Saturday. Later, a new one was set up.

Mr. Kenyatta called the terrorists cowards and said Kenya would remain “as brave and invincible as the lions on our coat of arms.” He also sounded a somber note, pleading with Kenyans to give blood, and said he had lost “very close family members in this attack,” though he did not specify further.

Witnesses described attackers using AK-47 and G-3 assault rifles and throwing grenades.

Vivian Atieno, 26, who works on the first floor of the mall, described “intense shooting,” starting around 11 a.m., before she escaped through a fire exit.

Haron Mwachia, 20, a cleaner at the mall, said he had survived by climbing over a wall. “I heard several gunshots and managed to run away,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims of the attack journeyed to various hospitals around the city that were treating the wounded, trying to ascertain the fate of their loved ones.

At the MP Shah Hospital, a few miles away from the mall, distressed relatives milled around a tent erected for them outside the hospital as volunteers worked around the clock to provide necessary assistance.

Ruth Nyambura, 26, whose uncle worked at the Nakumatt Supermarket in Westgate at the time of the attack, said she was terrified.

“I have come along with my family just to find out how he’s doing. He was shot in the head, suffered severe wounds on his one of his eyes and his arms,” said Ms. Nyambura. “He was operated yesterday and we’ve come to see him again. We are being told to wait because the queue is too long.”

Kenya serves as the economic engine of East Africa, and while it has been mostly spared the violence and turmoil of many of its neighbors, it has had other terrorist attacks. In 1998, Al Qaeda killed more than 200 people in an enormous truck bombing that nearly leveled the American Embassy in downtown Nairobi, while simultaneously attacking the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Islamist terrorists also struck an Israeli-owned hotel on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast in 2002 and fired missiles at an Israeli airliner.

More recently, the Shabab have put Kenya in its cross hairs, especially after Kenya sent thousands of troops into Somalia in 2011 to chase the Shabab away from its borders and then kept those troops there as part of a larger African Union mission to pacify Somalia. The Shabab have attacked churches in eastern Kenya, mosques in Nairobi and government outposts along the Kenya-Somalia border.

But this was the boldest attack yet. Within minutes, as the gunmen opened fire with assault rifles, Westgate was plunged into mayhem and carnage. People ran out screaming, and victims soaking in their own blood were wheeled out in shopping carts. Bodies were still sprawled on the mall’s front steps hours afterward, and woozy shoppers continued to emerge from the stores where they had been hiding.

“This is such a shock,” said Preeyam Sehmi, an artist, as she stumbled out of the mall, past a phalanx of Kenyan soldiers, after five hours of hiding. “Westgate was such a social place.”

Before its Twitter account was shut down, the Shabab sent out a message, saying the fighters in the mall would never give up.

“There will be no negotiations whatsoever at #Westgate,” the message said.

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.

“I think this is just the beginning,” said Rudy Atallah, the former director of African counterterrorism for the Pentagon. “An attack like this gives them the capability to recruit, it shows off their abilities, and it demonstrates to Al Qaeda central that they are not dead.”

Reporting was contributed by Reuben Kyama and Tyler Hicks from Nairobi; Jodi Rudoren from Jerusalem; Mark Mazzetti from Washington; and Mohamed Ibrahim from Mogadishu, Somalia.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/23/wo...pagewanted=all

This is still ongoing, so let's see how this works out. Hopefully no more innocents are killed but I'm not too optimistic
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:12 PM   #2
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I've got two friends who volunteered in Kenya last year and they are distraught.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:52 PM   #3
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CNN is reporting three of the attackers may be Americans

Kenya mall attack: Death toll rises to 68 - CNN.com
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Old 09-23-2013, 12:58 AM   #4
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Over 68 people have died from this and this isn't a media circus like the April Boston Bombings.
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Old 09-23-2013, 01:24 AM   #5
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CNN is reporting three of the attackers may be Americans

Kenya mall attack: Death toll rises to 68 - CNN.com
And Canadians and Finns and Brits.
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:06 PM   #6
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And Canadians and Finns and Brits.
Really? Where did you hear that?
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:11 PM   #7
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In the article she posted.
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:20 PM   #8
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There was a Canadian diplomat and I think her partner that may have been killed. I believe one of the attackers may also be an Irish woman, nickenamed 'The White Widow', Samantha Lethwaite...though I believe that is yet to be confirmed, she was the wife of one of the London tube bombers. Though there are some myths regarding her involvement with terrorism, no one quite knows where she is. Though we do know a white woman was involved in the attack. Still lots of unconfirmed rumours involved with this.
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:22 PM   #9
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Three of the alleged attackers are from the United States, two are from Somalia and there is one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom, according to the list.
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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The death toll is now 62. Its also being reported that the female attackers may have been men dressed as women.

Kenya claims upper hand in mall hostage crisis - CBS News

Here's a look on why Americans should pay attention to al-Shabab:

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The massive, horrifying shooting in Kenya is taking place on another side of the world, but the Qaida-affiliated group with Western connections that is carrying out the attacks is a distinctly American problem, too.

At least 68 people are dead in al-Shabab's terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, which began Saturday and continues into Monday. There are still hostages in the mall. And, if al-Shabab is to be believed, three American-born people may have played a part in the attack.

Somalia-based al-Shabab has a history of Western recruitment. The organization itself grew out of Somalia's Islamic Courts Union, a group of sharia courts. Al-Shabab, which means "the youth" in Arabic, split off from the ICU after Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in 2006. That invasion and the subsequent occupation radicalized the young splinter group and made it a magnet for jihadists, helping the group gain thousands of recruits by 2008. Initially, the group was focused on fighting Ethiopian interests in Somalia.

In February of that year, the State Department designated the group as a foreign terrorist organization, calling it a "violent and brutal extremist group with a number of individuals affiliated with al-Qaida." By the summer of 2010, the group had expanded its reach, as evidenced by a suicide bombing in Uganda that killed 74 people.

It's hard to know exactly how many Western fighters are in al-Shabab, says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. But al-Shabab has had some marginal success at drawing recruits from the Somali diaspora in the United States and the United Kingdom. Like other terrorist organizations, al-Shabab has targeted young, dissatisfied men who have not integrated well into Western life.
In June 2010, two men from New Jersey were arrested at JFK International Airport and accused of trying to join up with al-Shabab in Somalia. Prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., describe another three men facing federal terrorism charges in the city as "dangerous and influential" members of al-Shabab. Those three men were arrested in Africa while traveling to Yemen, and none of them is a United States citizen. One, however, is British.

A congressional report from July 2011 found that al-Shabab had recruited more than 40 American Muslims, and at that point at least 15 had been killed.

One of the group's most famous members was Omar Hammami, an Alabama man who left for Somalia in 2006. Hammami, who tweeted at @abumamerican, eventually broke with Shabab, while still saying that he believed in "attacking U.S. interests everywhere." He was reportedly killed by al-Shabab just last week.
The U.S. and U.K. have taken different paths to dealing with al-Shabab and Somalia to this point. After the mission in Somalia in the 1990s, the U.S. has kept Somalia at an "arm's length," says Felbab-Brown, resorting more to limited selective strikes than the kind of political development that Britain has strived for.

Up to this point, Western assets have had a limited influence within Shabab, and the plight of Hammami has actually served as a warning to would-be jihadists. In the last few years, al-Shabab has lost some of its influence and Western recruits have attempted to leave the organization, sometimes saying that they didn't fully understand what they were getting themselves into. The recruits have been "more for the show," says Felbab-Brown. She even points to recent chatter among Shabab leadership fretting over excessively poor treatment of Western assets, suggesting that their role within the organization needs to be reorganized.

If al-Shabab claims that three of the Kenyan shooters are American-born bear out, we may be seeing what that restructuring could look like.

And the recruits—with their Western citizenship, connections, and on-the-ground knowledge—pose an outsized potential threat to the U.K. and the U.S. "I would be very surprised if al-Shabab had the capacity to pull off in the United States anything on the scale of 9/11, or even in Britain," says Felbab-Brown. But with relatively easy access through U.S. or U.K. borders, it's not crazy to imagine that Shabab could be capable of launching an attack on a soft-target by a gunman abroad—like the attack raging in Kenya. And these Shabaab assets are likely out there. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., believes that Shabaab has between 15 and 20 active American members.

This fear isn't just a security threat in the United States or the United Kingdom. It's also a palpable privacy threat for Somalis living in the West. The NYPD has already made infiltrating suspect demographic groups (read: Muslim) part of its post-9/11 counterterrorism M.O. The Somali diaspora is concerned it will be unfairly targeted by the U.S. or U.K. government, get excessive attention from the FBI or the U.K. Home Office, or be socially alienated of Western society, according to Felbab-Brown. In short, greater attention to Shabab could mean greater attention to normal, law-abiding Somalis living in the West. And if you want to create a mass of young, poorly integrated Somali men, that's surely one way to do it.
Kenya's Shabab Problem Is an American Problem, too - NationalJournal.com
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:37 PM   #11
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In the article she posted.
Haven't seen this in the domestic media at all, talk about crappy reporting when something happens in an overseas third world country.
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:08 PM   #12
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I'm guessing that there was intentional symbolism in al-Shabaab's choice of an upscale shopping mall with a bunch of westerners in it for their attack.
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:38 PM   #13
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Haven't seen this in the domestic media at all, talk about crappy reporting when something happens in an overseas third world country.
Now that the talk has moved to recruiting, Local Chicago news is certainly reporting on it.
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:46 PM   #14
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My friends still don't know if their friends are alive or dead
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:47 PM   #15
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My friends still don't know if their friends are alive or dead
That's horrible!
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