On Friday, September 20th, a terrorist group in Nairobi, Kenya began a violent rampage through the Westgate Shopping Mall that lasted four days. The initiating terrorist group Al-Shabaab is said to be linked to Al Qaeda; they murdered at least 72 civilians with roughly 65 still missing. Three of the militants were killed by government force the second day of the shooting, another 10 were taken into custody that same day.
According to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, three Americans and one British woman were involved in the siege. He could not support this claim, and it has yet to be substantiated by the U.S. State Department, but the thought is still chilling. Five Americans were injured in the shooting.
What is more shocking, is that this attack is thought to have been planned. According to the investigative findings of American security officials working alongside the Kenyan Interior Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku and his workers.
Hatched on Somali soil, this siege was a well-thought out plan. The blueprints had been carefully studied, and corrupt border guards allowed Al-Shabaab extremists into the country in order to rehearse this attack multiple times. A mall employee also hid weapons for the terrorist group inside the mall. The whole stunt had been perfectly orchestrated, and was enacted almost as well.
President Obama made a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, extending condolences. He spoke to the Kenyan President by phone to offer support. In an interview, President Obama said this: “For the Kenyan people, we stand with them. There’s been a terrible outrage that has occurred.”
As missing persons are being identified, it was found that among the dead was President Kenyatta’s own nephew, Mbugua Mwangi. Kenyatta’s initial response was calm, collected, but strong: “We have shamed… our attackers, let us continue to wage a relentless moral war as our forces conduct physical battle. We shall triumph.”
As government forces went to secure the location and surround the mall Sunday the 22nd, the Al Shabaab militants tweeted, “Kenyan forces who’ve just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardizing the lives of all the hostages at #Westgate.” Thankfully, most of the hostages had already been freed.
On the fourth day, Kenya’s government force went into the mall to find and eliminate the militants, updating their progress via Twitter. Throughout the day there were intermittent gunshots heard from outside. Finally, it was said that the Al-Shabaab radicals had all been killed. At this news, Kenyatta proclaimed, “We have shamed and defeated our attackers”.
Though this is a great victory, there were terrible losses. There are still sixty-five civilians that have yet to be found and rescued.