From: Judy Miriga
Sport-on Otieno Sungu.You speak like a man of principle who must change tactics to face, challenge and defeat an enemy of terror when security is threatened.
Security and survival is standing on shaky-grounds, instead of blame-games, people must be alert and unite to add pressure to the leadership. It is worrying to see Al-shabaab is digging deeper with more threats on Kenyans sending signals that they are turning to poaching when their source of funding is cut.
We cannot blame the President wholesomely before we get to know whether he was under some sort of siege. The President too must not speak on riddles. Why would the President read the Riot Act and who are the people he accuses of creating “aparallel centre of power”? Is the President trying to imply that he is not in control??? Is there a vacuum in leadership??? Why would thee be a parallel center of power if an elected President is in control???
President Uhuru must come clean if he wants Kenyans and the world to believe and trust in him. He need to tell the world the truth who are these people he is accusing of creating “a parallel centre of Power”. Could they be those who sent Al-shabaab to attack Westgate? Could they be those who sponsored Al-shabaab into Kenya and helped them escape??? Are the Al-shabaab incorporated into the Police force??? After I studied the ambush at the Wastegate I still wonder why both the International Media and the Local media were sent away while volunteers in plain cloths managed to get inside the mall and help whisking people out…………..Why did the police sent the Media away??? What was the police trying to hide??? Why would Uhuru not sack and relieve Francis Kimemia completely out of the Public Service for failing in his Responsibility and putting people in a very sorry state. If Kimemia was at fault, why would Uhuru continue to retain him and pay a double salary wasting publind funds???
This is a fight all Kenyans must unite to bring to end. People must inform and report all suspects wherever they live or do business and they must be rooted out through mass force otherwise if Kenyans slake, Kenyans will be taken over by events and the Al-shabaab will soon or later root out Kenyans and take control of Kenya the way M23 have done to Congo people. This is something we cannot take lightly and it is a behavior that must not be allowed to happen to Kenya.
Wake up people, wake up Kenyans………….and demand for your rights of security with Responsible leadership and equally, it is your right to demand for transparency and accountability that no one should ever take it away from the people……………….Al-shabaab must not take root in Kenya and continue to hold Kenyans hostages in compromising situation………….
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,
– – – – – – – – – – –
From: otieno sungu
Sent: Saturday, September 28, 2013 3:33 PM
Subject: RADICAL APPROACH TO ENHANCING OUR SECURITY.
Following the West Gate attack, it is necessary for the government to reassess its strategy to protect Kenyans.
In my opinion, sacking individuals or moving them around will not solve our security problem. Right now, we have an avowed enemy, Al Shabaab which does not fight conventional wars nor does it respect international conventions of engagement.
Under these circumstances, our government must also device counter measures like what Israel does with terrorist groups.First and foremost, we need to re-evaluate our intelligence bodies ability to contain terror.The NSIS must not be a toothless body that collects intelligence and hands the same over to some overweight chaps at Vigilante House to execute the prevention.The folks we have at NSIS have a level of training, education and discipline higher than the ordinary police. When ordinary police are given intelligence information, some of which is beyond their comprehension, they can only bungle up such operations. Various cases exist of bungled up operations. The Fellician Kabuga saga, a man who should be behind bars in Rwanda by now, has evaded police dragnet several times because of bungled up operations, one of which Steven Munuhe, the informer, lost his life after being set up by corrupt policemen, several operations in Mombasa and Malindi to nab terror suspects have gone wrong and suspects escaped(including the White Widow and several drug barons) because either intelligence reached the ears of greedy and corruptible police who in turn alert the criminals.
Under these circumstances, NSIS must go back to the outfit it was and its equivalents around the world such as CIA, M16, MOSSAD, FBI,KGB etc.
These intelligence arms are independent and can arrest, detain and investigate individuals. They can actually take over cases of such magnitude such as terrorism from the ordinary police. Yet our case is the opposite, NSIS has to report such to an ill equipped, corrupt and lazy police force to act. No wonder intelligence reports that we would be attacked between 14th and 21st September went unheeded.
Secondly, the NSIS should brief the President directly on matters of national security. This bureaucracy of briefing Cabinet Secretaries, some of whom are greenhorns and ill equipped to conceptualize the magnitude of what they are being briefed about is what culminated in the attack. If it is true that 4 Cabinet secretaries in Internal Security, Defense and other critical Ministries were briefed and did not act, then have a calamity in the name of Cabinet. Ole Lenku and Rachel Omamo should be ashamed enough to have resigned by now, to continue drawing a salary on such failure and on people’s blood is not only inhuman but a fraud on the tax payer.I wonder if they have conscience!
Having said that, we must now focus on illegal immigrants, fake nationals and refugees not staying in designated camps. We cannot thrive on disorder. Our immigration must be overhauled and systems put in place to ensure every person registered is tracked through a centralized and computerized registration process which consolidates information on personal identification, social security details, PIN details, passport details such that it is easy to track down money laundering, money wired for terror, individual travels, networks, business, banking trend, residence etc.
Terrorists are using our weak systems to open legitimate businesses in Kenya and proceed to wire millions into bank accounts of such businesses and use the same to recruit youth, plan terror, corrupt our police and set up strong networks, we must deny them such easy avenues of moving money around. This can only happen if we are able to track people moving huge sums of money around whose sources cannot be explained. This can only happen if KRA and Central Bank are able to track such.
We must also begin looking carefully are radical religious dogma and the people perpetrating the same. We cannot turn a blind eye and shy away from confronting the issue of radical preachers who preach hate, death, killings and martyrdom. If this be the case, then we need to know who such preachers have in mind when they offer such fiery sermons. Freedom of worship is not any ticket to break laws neither is it ticket to infringe on other people’s freedoms. It is now common information that such preachers are growing in number, one of whom killed himself planting an explosive in Garrissa town recently.
The government MUST crack down on such because they are not furthering any religious dogma as we know it but fomenting terror using the cover of Holy Places. Anyone defending or protesting their arrests must also be arrested as accomplices to plans of terror. We cannot live in a society where a few individuals distort their religious beliefs and go on a killing spree of our citizens. The President vowed to protect lives and property, he must crush such with the full force of the law irrespective of cries from sympathizers.
Lastly, we must not only wait for terrorists to strike and we defend ourselves, we must now take the battle to their doorstep,with KDF in Somalia, we must hunt down and capture or kill the masterminds and financiers, we must keep them on the run and run them out of Somalia into the open world where they will be wanted international fugitives, vulnerable and hiding with very little time, resources and personnel to plan any attacks. This is what Israel does with terrorists, kill them in their domain or smoke them out and keep them running for the rest of their short lives,until they are neutralized.
But a good place to start is our midst, the ones we already know and are linked or suspected or and sympathetic to terrorists.
Uhuru reads the Riot Act on people he accuses of creating ‘a parallel centre of power’
Updated Saturday, September 28th 2013 at 21:47 GMT +3
Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Kimemia [PHOTO:STANDARD]
By BIKETI KIKECHI
Although his official title is Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Kimemia has been performing duties of the powerful office of the Head of Public Service.
But he won’t perform that role any more. That job has been assigned to former Treasury PS Joseph Kinyua.
And Kimemia’s duties have been reduced to writing invitation letters to Cabinet secretaries to attend Cabinet meetings, taking minutes during the meetings and disseminating the same to the secretaries. In a sense, the Westgate attack has cost the former Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet his job.
At a Cabinet meeting in State House, Nairobi on Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have read the Riot Act on people he accused of creating a “parallel centre of power” within the government.
The President is said to have seethed with rage after it emerged that some senior officials in Harambee House, the former Office of the President, were issuing unauthorised instructions over the Westgate Mall attack.
And immediately after making his point, the President introduced Joseph Kinyua to replace former powerful PS in the Office of the President Mr Kimemia.
Kimemia was also at the Thursday meeting in his capacity as Secretary to the Cabinet.It also emerged that Kimemia chaired the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) meeting where the National Intelligence Service (NIS) says it provided information on the impending attack at the mall. “He is secretary to the Cabinet and only God knows in what capacity he was chairing that meeting,” said a close Uhuru ally at Harambee House.
A Cabinet secretary told The Standard on Sunday that Uhuru was furious when he addressed the Thursday Cabinet meeting.
“Some of you think there are two centres of power. I am the President and there is also the Deputy President. There is no other centre of power,” Uhuru is said to have warned at the State House meeting. It was after he made the tough remarks that Uhuru introduced the appointment of Kinyua as the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service.
Kinyua became the centre of attention after the meeting with all Cabinet secretaries lining up to greet and congratulate him. That effectively made him the third in command within government after Deputy President William Ruto and the second in command at State House after the President. Sources in the Cabinet informed The Standard on Sunday that the changes were made following a series of communication goofs where Kimemia was implicated.
Concern was raised when Interior Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo called a Press conference at Harambee House when his boss Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku was addressing another one at Peponi Road in Westlands.
“It is not possible Iringo could have called that Press conference without the knowledge of Kimemia who is in charge of affairs at Harambee House,” said our source.
The Cabinet secretary was with the military generals and top police officers including Inspector General David Kimaiyo, and CID boss Ndegwa Muhoro when he was issuing the Press statement on Sunday evening.
The team had opened an operation camp near the site of the attack but Kimemia and Iringo were conspicuously absent.
“The president noticed that because the whole world could see there was somebody who was trying to create another centre of power,” said an official from the Executive Office of The President.
The management of the crisis became more complicated when the Interior ministry started tweeting and releasing conflicting information. At the same time, the police service was releasing different information from what was coming out of Harambee House.
The social media went viral on the conflicting information, which top government officials blamed on Kimemia. According to our source, Kimemia had not realised that Harambee House was no longer the Office the President.
“The last time Uhuru was at Harambee House was when he was President-elect and has since worked from his office at State House,” our source explained.
It appears Uhuru was surprised to learn that Kimemia was the head of NSAC and was getting all security briefs, but some of the information was not reaching him and other agencies.
“The information on the Westgate attack was given but it did not go anywhere. The NIS had informed them what vehicles the Al-Shabaab would use and at what time they would attack. Kimaiyo was also said to have been there and that is why NIS keeps saying they gave information to top officials at OP and police,” said our source.
State House officials say Kimemia had taken too long to understand that he was secretary to the Cabinet, whose job is to write letters of invitation, take minutes and circulate them.
“ Kimemia surprisingly is still chair of NSAC just like he was when he was head of public service when he is only supposed to be secretary to the Cabinet,” said another senior officer at the ministry of Interior.
When The Standard on Sunday contacted Kimemia to comment on the unfolding events, he sent an SMS saying: “No comment. I know what I am supposed to do.”
The Standard on Sunday is in possession of letters Kimemia wrote to Cabinet secretaries while designating himself as Permanent Secretary, to the Cabinet and Head of Public service.
In the letter dated 24th June, Reference number OP.CAB.9/1, the “Head of Public Service” an office that was scrapped with the beginning of Uhuru’s term, he instructed all Cabinet secretaries not to gazette any new appointments of chairpersons or chief executive officers in the government parastatals unless in concurrence with the Office of the President.
Al Shabaab now turns to poaching to fund terror activities
Updated Saturday, September 28th 2013 at 22:27 GMT +3
By DANIEL WESANGULA
In May 2007, three Kenya Wildlife Service rangers died at the hands of Somali bandits in a pre-dawn shoot-out. The gang of poachers was crossing the Tana River on their way to Tsavo East National Park. The incursion was halted, but the eventual cost in human life from this emerging deadly trend was to be massive.
Six years later, an 18-month investigation by South African environmental groups Maisha Consulting and Elephant Action League in the involvement of Al Shabaab on trafficking ivory through Kenya established that this trade could be supplying up to 40 per cent of the funds needed to keep the merchants of terror in business.
“The deadly path of conflict ivory starts with the slaughter of innocent animals and ends in the slaughter of innocent people. It is a source of funding for terrorist organisations that transcends cruelty. It is the ‘white gold’ for African jihad; white for its colour and gold for its value,” Andrea Crosta the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the South African independent conservation organisation Elephant Action League (EAL) told The Standard on Sunday.
A parallel can be drawn between Kenya’s incursion into Somalia and increased poaching incidents within the country. With every inch of ground gained by the Kenya Defence Forces, a mile is lost back home in the never-ending war of protecting the country’s wildlife.
“Surrounded by porous borders, Kenya has long been a transit point for illegal ivory. The KWS is doing a commendable job but in an attempt to crack down on this trade, dealers looking for fast money and an easier market have turned to a new player in the game – Al Shabaab,” Crosta said.
“This reality is too close to home to pass as a mere coincidence,” Crosta said. Although poaching has been ongoing for decades, the cutting off of Al Shabaab’s income streams has forced them to look elsewhere for funding.
Kismayu had long stood as an economic bastion for the militia group. A UN Monitoring Group says outside Mogadishu, the port city was the second most important operational base for the Al Qaeda-linked militants.
In 2008, Al Shabaab took over Kismayu, the third-largest city in Somalia, after fighting a fierce three-day battle against pro-government militias. The group quickly imposed harsh administrative rules grounded in Sharia law on the port’s business community. To raise revenue, Al Shabaab increased the fees for importing and exporting goods through the port by 30 per cent.
The most important economic activities in Kismayu are fishing, the import of industrial goods and the export of primary goods such as livestock, charcoal, and khat to the Gulf States. Just from tax impositions, it is estimated that the group collected upwards of over Sh2.1 million every month. “Through trade with the gulf states it is estimated that they earned more than Sh42 million every month from charcoal trade,” a Kenyan army official not authorised to speak on Kenya’s operations in Somalia told The Standard on Sunday.
In total, a UN report states that “Al Shabaab collected an estimated between Sh2.9 and Sh4.2 billion annually in custom tolls and taxes on businesses in Kismayu and two secondary ports higher up the coast.”
Almost all this money was used to further their bloody insurgencies in Somalia and neighbouring countries. The port’s fall posed serious challenges to the militants.
Quick, alternative sources of income had to be identified for the survival of the Mujahedeen.
“The network is sophisticated and is composed of poachers, small and big-time brokers, and informants, all linked to the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Our enquiries reached across the border into neighbouring Somalia where we established a link between the traders and Al Shabaab… Shabaab has been actively buying and selling ivory as a means of funding their militant operations,” Crosta said.
The investigation by EAL shows that the role of Al Shabaab in ivory trafficking is of immense concern.
“The harsh environment in which they operate, deprived of natural resources makes ivory and rhino horn trade that much more important,” says the report.
However, Al Shabaab’s role is not limited to poaching and brokerage, but they provide a crucial link in the illegal trade chain.
“Shabaab’s strength and conviction to continue its fight will increase its need for fighters, arms, ammunition and other equipment, and increase its need for funds. As the West continues to fight radical terrorist organisations through seizing assets in offshore bank accounts, straw companies and ‘charities’, these organisations, including Al Shabaab, will rely increasingly on trafficking in contraband as a source of finance,” the investigation reveals.
The report indicates that between one to three tonnes of ivory; fetching a price of roughly Sh17,000 per kilogramme, pass through the hands of Al Shabaab every month. Meaning that ivory accounts for between Sh17 million and Sh51 million every month.
So far this year, more than 8.5 tonnes of ivory have been seized. With an estimated Asia black market value of almost Sh300,000 per kilogramme, this means a total of more than Sh2.5 billion worth of ivory has been seized.
Experts say the seized ivory only represent 20 per cent of the black market circulation.
“Most of the ivory we seize is on transit from other countries and to other destinations,” Paul Mbugua, KWS spokesperson said.
So far, none of these hauls has officially been attributed to the decimated Kenyan herds.
But it is a fact that following the fall of Kismayu, Kenya has seen an exponential increase in ivory-related poaching. From 283 in 2011, 385 deaths were recorded in 2012. This year may be worse.
Already 235 elephants have been killed with 35 rhinos murdered for their horns compared to 29 the whole of last year. The highlight being the brazen daytime attack and killing of a white rhino at the Nairobi National Park — Kenya’s most guarded animal sanctuary.
“This avenue provides enough income for running a large part of their activities,” Crosta said. “This is not only dangerous for our animal population, but most importantly for our survival.”
In Kenya’s arid north, an area bordering Somalia, an AK-47 costs downwards of Sh50,000. A bullet costs as little as Sh70. An Imigration official at a border crossing earns a basic salary of between Sh40,000 and Sh50,000. With an outwardly corrupt public service, a successful poacher-terrorist will find little difficulty in arming himself, killing wildlife and eventually smuggling out his loot to the outside buyers and rearming himself for a deadlier assault in “enemy territory”.
EAL says corruption is not just the deadliest enemy of conservation but also of any other effort to push Africa forward. In their investigations not only in Kenya, corruption comes up all the time and at all levels. “If we fail to act now, militant groups like Al Shabaab will lay down their roots deep in the African landscape, destroying its heritage for generations to come. Dangerous and unpredictable, Al Shabaab’s involvement in ivory trade brings with it an alarming dimension, a dimension the world cannot afford to ignore,” concludes the report.
However, ivory plays just one part in the bigger picture. Foreign funding through the Hawala system and disguised religious charities pursuing ulterior agenda, supplemented by criminal activities, enables Al Shabaab to hold on to its war. The criminal activities include taxation of businesses and NGOs, trafficking in drugs, arms and humans, and involvement in counterfeit currency.
“This is not the major one, but it plays a huge part in their financing,” Crosta said.
Al Shabaab is not alone in the plunder of wildlife to sustain their insurgencies.
“Other militias involved in poaching, like the Lord’s Resistance Army or the Sudanese Janjaweed, usually kill elephants themselves, sometimes very far from home. Al Shabaab does not kill elephants. They leave the dirty job to locals and buy the ivory from known traffickers. For them ivory is just a business, like charcoal and the group remains unique in its role as a very organised buyer,” said Crosta.
Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)
Somalia: Armed Men Attack Government Military Bases and Kenyan Bases in the Lower Juba Region
27 September 2013
Confrontations between armed men and Somali military llied with Kenyan troops occurred at Kulbiyow sub-district in the lower Juba region of Somalia.
Residents confirmed to Shabelle radio that the attackers believed to be members of Alshabab fighters attacked a military base manned by Kenyan peacekeeping forces and Somali military soldiers.
Heavy gunfire that lasted hours was heard at nearby settlements.
In other news armed men attacked another military base located near the Kismayu University which is operated by the Kenyan troops.
Somali government troops together with the Kenyan troops fought off the attackers after a slight confrontation which lasted for hours.
The real casualties caused by the last night attacks has not yet been revealed by the authorities of the lower Juba region
Attacker mainly from Shabab fighters frequently attack government and AMISOM bases located in the lower Juba region of Somalia.
Voice of America (Washington, DC)
Kenya Holding 8 Suspects in Mall Attack
27 September 2013
Kenyan authorities say they are still holding eight people in connection with the deadly four-day siege at a Nairobi shopping mall.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters Friday that authorities have released three other suspects.
Earlier this week, officials said five suspected militants were killed as troops and police worked to regain control of the Westgate mall.
The official total death toll from the siege stands at 72.
Investigators continue to sift through the wreckage at the partially collapsed mall. On Friday, the Kenyan Red Cross said 59 people remain missing following the attack.
Lenku said no additional bodies have been recovered from the site.
“According to police records, there are no formal or official reports of missing persons who could have been at the mall at the time of the attack.”
The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack and is vowing to carry out other acts of violence against Kenya.
On Twitter Friday, the militant group said its attack on the Westgate mall was “just the premiere of Act 1.”
Al-Shabab says it wants Kenyan forces to withdraw from Somalia. Kenyan forces entered neighboring Somalia two years ago to help fight the militant group, which has been fighting to turn Somalia into a strict Islamic state.
The Associated Press said Friday that investigators had recovered a vehicle that was believed to have been used by some of the attackers.
Human Rights Watch urged Kenyan authorities to “swiftly” catch and prosecute the mall attackers. In a statement, the group’s Africa director, Daniel Bekele, said “nothing justifies the cruel contempt for human life” that the attackers had shown.
In another development, the International Criminal Court announced it has extended Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s absence from his trial until Wednesday.
The ICC said it granted the extension to allow Ruto to attend a memorial service for mall victims on Tuesday.
Ruto faces charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the deadly ethnic violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 election.
Sabahi (Washington, DC)
Kenya: Westgate Attack Reveals Gaping Security Holes
By Rajab Ramah and Julius Kithuure, , and Bosire Boniface in Garissa, 27 September 2013
Nairobi — As renewed threats and mockery from al-Shabaab have emerged in the past few days, the Kenyan people are still looking for answers as to how the bloody siege at Nairobi’s Westgate mall happened — and whether it could have been prevented.
By now, many of the details of the siege are understood: Last Saturday a group of al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the upscale shopping centre, indiscriminately shooting shoppers and tossing grenades into crowds of innocent civilians. In a standoff that lasted four days, the gunmen killed at least 67 people and held an unknown number of others as hostages until Kenyan security forces gained control of the situation Tuesday.
But in the aftermath of the attack, many questions remain unanswered: What happened to the remaining hostages? How were the attackers able to gain access to the shopping centre and hold it for so long? Who was the mastermind behind the attack and where is he or she now?
Did Kenyan security and intelligence forces receive prior warnings about the attack, and could they have prevented it?
“Terrorist attacks do not happen out of blue,” said security analyst Raymond Kipkorir Cheruiyot, a retired Kenyan armed forces colonel and co-owner of Multi Security Consultants Limited in Nairobi.
“Terrorists execute an attack when security agencies are complacent,” he told Sabahi. “Westgate shopping mall was a high profile complex, which should have been under intense 24-hour security surveillance and armed police guard. That way, the planning of this attack would have been detected and thwarted.”
Cheruiyot criticised the Kenyan government’s “disjointed” response to what he described as a sophisticated attack that “a crack team of terrorists” carefully planned and executed.
The authorities should place such high value targets under constant surveillance, review existing security arrangements and procedures, and monitor locals who sympathise with or support terrorists, he said.
“Yes, our security team response time was good, but their performance would have been more clinical had they acted on external intelligence warnings that Westgate mall was a soft target of high value to terrorists,” Cheruiyot said.
A prior terror alert
In August, security officials issued a terror alert for Kenya, saying they had received intelligence reports that at least five al-Shabaab operatives had entered Mombasa from Somalia and may have been plotting an attack to coincide with the first anniversary of radical cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed’s killing.
“A security alert in Mombasa or Kisumu should be a concern for the entire country,” said retired army Major Bishar Hajji Abdullahi. “It is evident that someone was lax.”
“In the aftermath of this incident, those who know they are culpable should just resign, or the president [should] sack them,” Abdullahi told Sabahi.
The Kenyan Defence Forces and allied troops have done a good job dispersing al-Shabaab inside Somalia, but Kenya’s security services should have launched a manhunt for suspected militants on the home soil once they got those intelligence reports, he said.
David Ochami, a Mombasa-based journalist who covers Middle East and Horn of Africa militant groups, said there were signs of a potential attack in the weeks leading up to the Westgate siege.
Al-Shabaab and its sympathizers had been very active on social media in the weeks before the attack, for example, and their messages could have provided clues to prevent the attack, he said.
“Some of the postings may turn out to be a hoax to instil fear or posturing, but they should be deciphered and taken very seriously,” Ochami told Sabahi.
Even during the siege at the mall, al-Shabaab frequently posted messages about it on Twitter, Ochami said, underscoring the importance of paying attention to how terrorists use social media as they mount and execute such attacks.
Despite having at least five Twitter handles shut down this year, including three in the aftermath of the Westgate attack, al-Shabaab is still using the social media site to threaten and mock its enemies.
In a series of tweets Thursday, al-Shabaab criticised the Kenyan government for the apparent conflicting information it provided following the attack.
“The Kenyan government is still in disarray & it won’t be until several months when it fully comprehends exactly what took place at Westgate,” al-Shabaab said. “Their contradictory version of events is a sure sign that the Kenyan govt is beginning to suffer from severe constipation of ideas.”
The militants went on to boast of their “mesmeric performance” at Westgate, keeping Kenyans “completely enthralled for more than 100 hours”.
Al-Shabaab renewed its threats to Kenyans saying, “… despair not folks, that was just the première of Act 1”.
A tipoff Westgate attack was coming
Meanwhile, Kenyan lawmaker Mike Sonko made headlines this week by claiming that well before the attack he had received information that terrorists were planning to strike Westgate mall and other Nairobi landmarks.
He said he had relayed this information to the authorities, but they did not take it seriously enough.
According to Sonko, who represents the Westlands constituency where Westgate is located, two women approached him about three months ago with information that al-Shabaab militants had rented a house in the Parklands neighbourhood of Nairobi and were plotting such attacks.
“They told me the attacks were targeting Westgate, Village Market, the Kenyatta International Conference Centre and parliament,” he told Sabahi. “I assisted them in recording a statement with the police and intelligence officers so a further probe could be carried out.”
The National Security Intelligence Service and other security organs failed to act on the tip, Sonko said. He shared this information with the Senate on September 24th, the day the standoff at Westgate ended.
Fellow lawmaker Asman Kamama, who chairs the National Assembly’s Administration and National Security Committee, said the mall attack exposed lapses in intelligence gathering.
“The way the attacks were carried out, it was well co-ordinated, meaning it was something that was well planned and executed,” Kamama, a United Republican Party member who represents Baringo County, told Sabahi.
“And for our intelligence to have had no clue on the impending attacks, means there [were] huge security failures that we must audit and [for which we must] hold individuals culpable,” he said.
The attack on Westgate not only stunned the nation but appeared to catch defenders of the homeland off guard, officials told Sabahi.
“In all honesty, this was the first time Kenya has witnessed such an audacious terrorist attack on a mall using guns,” said Director of Police Reforms Jonathan Kosgei. “We knew of bombs, [but] this new style was hard to predict. However, the security forces did their best to contain the situation in the prevailing disadvantaged circumstances.”
“This attack will probably precipitate a national debate [about] whether to arm security guards or not,” he told Sabahi. “With only a wooden baton and a whistle, guards are so vulnerable and totally unable to stop an armed assault.”
Another factor to consider is how Westgate revealed al-Shabaab’s dramatic change in military tactics to commando-like operations, according to Western region Commissioner James ole Seriani.
“They want to inflict maximum damage which the roadside improvised explosive devices were not achieving,” he told Sabahi. “It is the same tactic they used in Garissa last year when they stormed and opened fire in two churches and hotels leaving more than 20 dead.”
The Westgate massacre is a wakeup call, Seriani said, and the public should be alert so that terrorists can be neutralised before they cross into Kenya.
The Kenyan government was blamed, too, for issuing conflicting information to the press as the terror at Westgate unfolded.
But Principal Secretary for Internal Security Mutea Iringo defended the government, saying it was deliberate tactic aimed at throwing the terrorists off balance.
“Silence is also a tactical weapon,” he told Sabahi. “You do not want to engage in a public shouting match with a terrorist organisation.”
While it was an unfortunate incident, Iringo said he hoped the Westgate attack would encourage world leaders to take action against al-Shabaab.
“Al-Shabaab is now not only a Somali headache but part and parcel of a global terrorist network that needs the world governments to dismantle,” he said.
Top security officers are expected to appear before parliament next week as part of the investigation into the terrorist attack.
“The time for responsibility and accountability has come,” defence committee chairman Ndung’u Gethenji said, according to Kenya’s Daily Nation.
“We shall conduct a thorough, in-depth, incisive and unforgiving investigation into the events and the failures that led to the attack,” he said at parliament shortly after his committee held a closed door meeting Thursday.
Gethenji said the joint committee, comprising members of the defence and national security committees, will call Kenya’s intelligence chief, the Interior Cabinet Secretary, the Inspector General of Police and other top security officials to shed light on the attack.