Video: Terrorists in Nairobi rented store for months before the attack

posted at 10:41 am on September 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

As investigators sift through the rubble of the partially-collapsed Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, a major new development in the aftermath of the terrorist attack has been made public. The al-Shabaab operation didn’t start at the mall on the day of the attack, but began three months earlier when the group leased a retail space in the mall as cover for their preparations. ABC News reports that Kenyan authorities are now trying to determine whether the group cached weapons in the store to serve as their armory for the attack:

The terrorists who attacked the Nairobi mall rented a shop there for three months leading up to the devastating attack that killed at least 72 people and injured hundreds more, according to the Kenyan Interior Ministry.

Authorities are also investigating whether some of the attackers had smuggled in weapons and explosives into the Westgate Mall before the attack took place this past Saturday, according to law enforcement officials.

The attackers detonated improvised explosive devices inside the mall causing severe damage and likely deaths, another law enforcement official said. They also had heavy firepower and it was likely pre-positioned within the mall, the official said.

Intelligence services from Kenya and other governments knew the mall was being scouted by the terrorists, but didn’t have specific intel on an attack:

A former diplomat who lives in Nairobi and maintains Kenyan government and international security contacts told ABC News Tuesday night that intelligence services in Kenya had detected surveillance of Westgate Mall being conducted in the past year, but said hard intelligence it was being targeted for a terror attack wasn’t uncovered.

“The intelligence hasn’t been specific,” the former diplomat told ABC News. The former diplomat described the al-Shabab attack as “strictly for revenge” because of Kenya’s help in defeating the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia. The ex-diplomat said Muslims were “executed” alongside non-Muslims in Westgate. “It was completely indiscriminate murder,” he said.

Kenya arrested 11 terrorists, which may be a big intelligence coup that pays off later.  Meanwhile, though, al-Shabaab claims to have killed 137 people in its siege of the upscale mall.  The government rejects the claim:

The militant group behind the takeover of a Nairobi mall claimed Wednesday that Kenyan government assault team carried out “a demolition” of the building, burying 137 hostages in rubble. A government spokesman denied the claim and said Kenyan forces were clearing all rooms, firing as they moved and encountering no one.

In a series of tweets from a Twitter account believed to be genuine, al-Shabab also said that “having failed to defeat the mujahideen inside the mall, the Kenyan govt disseminated chemical gases to end the siege.” It did not specify which gases, which could theoretically include anything from tear gas to poison.

Government spokesman Manoah Esipisu told The Associated Press that no chemical weapons were used, that the collapse of floors in the mall was caused by a fire set by the terrorists and that the official civilian death toll remains 61.

“Al-Shabab is known for wild allegations and there is absolutely no truth to what they’re saying,” he said. But officials said the death count will likely rise. Estimates varied between only a few bodies to dozens of bodies possibly still inside the mall.

Before the final assault, the death toll was at 62, and some estimates had another sixty bodies left to be recovered in the mall, so 137 may not be far off.  It’s unlikely that the terrorists had time to do a body count and get it back to their social-media arm in any kind of accurate manner, though.  It may take some time to go through the entirety of the rubble and identify the victims, as we found on a much larger scale on 9/11 in New York City.  Regardless of body counts, this has been a horrible failure of intelligence, but one that might provide better preparation for the next time an Islamist terror network tries a Mumbai re-run.

Update: CNN reports that Kenya is backing away from its earlier statements on the nationalities of the terrorists:

Mary Chastain has been howling on Twitter over the media reports on supposedly confirmed nationalities.  We know Americans are in al-Shabaab, but that doesn’t mean they took part in this attack — and in one sense, that may not make much sense if the terrorist group wants to conduct attacks here.


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Dearbornistan, Michigan… take note.

They walk among you.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:43 AM

So… know of any Muslim store owners? The smart thing for our government to do would be to sweep them for weapons caches. That is what governments interested in national security do in times of war. Identify the enemy (Islam) and then scrutinize efficiently.

IronDioPriest on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Mall of America has issued foam batons to its security staff just in case.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

We could easily handle this domestically by outfitting every christian with concentrated bacon spray.

HomeoftheBrave on September 25, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Mall of America has issued foam batons to its security staff just in case.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

And cans of silly string

djl130 on September 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Clearly they needed bigger “Gun-Free” zone signs.

Galt2009 on September 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Mall of America has issued foam batons to its security staff just in case.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

And cans of silly string

djl130 on September 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

With strict instructions that they are only to be used in extreme emergencies – like being overrun by third graders..

Galt2009 on September 25, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Regardless of body counts, this has been a horrible failure of intelligence, but one that might provide better preparation for the next time an Islamist terror network tries a Mumbai re-run.

I disagree. Regardless of the body count, this has been a horrible failure of law enforcement, but one that might provide better preparation for the next time.

How many times were authorities out there declaring that everything was under control at the Westgate Mall? How many times were they wrong? You can only do so much with non-specific intelligence but you can prepare for rapid response when a Mumbai or Nairobi type attack occurs.

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Mall of America has issued foam batons to its security staff just in case.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Why would they need such deadly weapons of war?
The guards’ kids will likely go off the deep end and start shooting each other with nerf guns, and then they’ll have to be expelled from school.
Don’t they see what a terrible move that is?

Just draw a chalk circle around the mall and declare it a safe zone, then nobody will have to barf or pee on themselves.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 10:58 AM

PAUL BLART —- Where are you!!!???

Deafdog on September 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM

So… know of any Muslim store owners? The smart thing for our government to do would be to sweep them for weapons caches. That is what governments interested in national security do in times of war. Identify the enemy (Islam) and then scrutinize efficiently.

IronDioPriest on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Won’t happen….the Feds remind everyone of the horrors of interning Japanese people in WWII.
Hell the Park service is making videos about how great Islam is.
The feds are idiots. They think appeasement will make terror stop.
It only encourages it. Just don’t shop at stores run by Muslims…..

redguy on September 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM

@IronDioPriest

So… know of any Muslim store owners? The smart thing for our government to do would be to sweep them for weapons caches. That is what governments interested in national security do in times of war. Identify the enemy (Islam) and then scrutinize efficiently.

Yeah, and “governments interested in national security in times of war” also put squinty-eyed people in internment camps. Oh wait, maybe we shouldn’t do stuff like that.

ATG on September 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM

blockquote>PAUL BLART —- Where are you!!!???

Deafdog on September 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM
He’s protecting my mall – hands off!!!
I hear they also hired Billy Bob Thorton to be Santa Claus this year…

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Mall of America has issued foam batons to its security staff just in case.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

And cans of silly string

djl130 on September 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Woah. I really see no reason to get DHS involved at this time. As they’ve got their hands full protecting us from all of those tea party senior citizens and such.

onomo on September 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM

So… know of any Muslim store owners? The smart thing for our government to do would be to sweep them for weapons caches. That is what governments interested in national security do in times of war. Identify the enemy (Islam) and then scrutinize efficiently.

IronDioPriest on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Sounds good on the surface, BUT…
Keep in mind our current administration does not consider Islam as the enemy, but does consider the TEA Party, any group with the words patriot or constitution in their name, and pretty much any conservative group to be enemies of the state.
They already want to grab all of our guns as it is.
Be careful about giving them a good excuse to do it.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

ATG on September 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Well, we have all those FEMA camps just sitting empty…

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Well, we have all those FEMA camps just sitting empty…

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

And it wouldn’t surprise me if Obumble, Holder and company looked at what just happened and said – “Hey a bunch of Muslims just attacked a mall in Kenya. We better start rounding up conservative gun owners quick before something happens here. We wouldn’t want any Muslims to get hurt if they tried to make a polical statement here, now would we?”

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Regardless of body counts, this has been a horrible failure of intelligence, but one that might provide better preparation for the next time an Islamist terror network tries a Mumbai re-run.

First of all, I always object to the idea that when terrorists attack, it represents some sort of failure on someone else’s part to stop them.

Secondly, they had some intel; on what basis do we count it a complete failure? If your intel is, say, that bad guys are taking notes on every mall, hotel, and restaurant that westerners might frequent in the city, and without specific evidence of a pending attack in one of those locations, what exactly are they supposed to do?

TexasDan on September 25, 2013 at 11:19 AM

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Depends on who’s running the show when TSHTF.

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Depends on who’s running the show when TSHTF.

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Exactly – and look at who is running the show right now.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

How big a step from here is shooting up the Mall of the Americas..?

Less of a step than going to Kenya and shooting up a mall there.

Not a matter of if… It’s a matter of when…!

Kuffar on September 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Ok so you just heard there were active shooters allah akbaring the local mall and hospital closest to you. What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Ok so you just heard there were active shooters allah akbaring the local mall and hospital closest to you. What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Well as of Oct. 1 your only choice will be to call your local I.R.S. agent for “End of Life” counselling. And be discreet about the reason. You don’t want to be martyred labeled as a hater.

onomo on September 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Dearbornistan, Michigan… take note.

They walk among you.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Any liberal city, it won’t happen in a shall-issue state.

roy_batty on September 25, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Of the 55 homes in your development, 41 are now occupied by Muslims. Signs start appearing taped to the mailboxes of kaffirs advising their females only to appear in public with heads covered.

What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Bingo… there’s your pattern/MO.

In Beslan, the Jihadi’s became part of a construction crew doing renovations on their target, the school.

With that level of access, they were able to preposition arms, ammo, and explosives

the rest is history.

CPT. Charles on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, the prep on the Beslan school occurred over several months as well…

CPT. Charles on September 25, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Ok so you just heard there were active shooters allah akbaring the local mall and hospital closest to you. What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Barf and pee on myself of course. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Can’t really do much if you’re not already there because then you’re likely crossing police barricades to get into it – which is not a bright idea.

However, if I was already in there when the shooting starts, I pull out my CCW, get into a decent position, and start taking out bad guys, and try to help as many of the defenseless sheep as possible to get out.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

What these fools do not realize is that just because muslim terrorists do not have smart bombs, or laser bombs or nukes, does not make them stupid.
They are smart, they are dedicated and they know how to use thier limited resoureces.

Look at 9/11 they knew no pilot would fly a plane into a building so they trained their own.

And this, event renting a small store to use as a supply dump and staging area was very smart. That way all they needed to do was walk in the front door and get thier ammo and weapons ect.

Thus proving if you want to survive get a concealed carrry permit. Look how long cops fart around outside having meetings until they move in.

NOTHING makes a killer go the other direction faster than someone shooting back

sniffles1999 on September 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Of the 55 homes in your development, 41 are now occupied by Muslims. Signs start appearing taped to the mailboxes of kaffirs advising their females only to appear in public with heads covered.

What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

I’d be moving out of the neighborhood before it got to that percentage.
But of course the correct answer (for Dems) is to barf and pee on yourself.

But, in your scenario, assuming I’m still there, signs might also start showing up on mailboxes that any attempt to implement sharia will be met with force and any attack on any non-Muslim will be met with force.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Of the 55 homes in your development, 41 are now occupied by Muslims. Signs start appearing taped to the mailboxes of kaffirs advising their females only to appear in public with heads covered.

What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Oh and BTW, just a touch of real world for your scenario – my current actual neighborhood is roughly 80% (or more) active, retired, or prior US military; in a city surrounded by 5 military bases that is very heavily conservative voting – one of the areas where we just recalled a Dem gun-grabber.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

OK – so what are YOU going to do?

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM

So… know of any Muslim store owners? The smart thing for our government to do would be to sweep them for weapons caches. That is what governments interested in national security do in times of war. Identify the enemy (Islam) and then scrutinize efficiently.

IronDioPriest on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

So if you truly believe in America and Freedom I cant believe you would make this statement. So I want to make sure I understand you correctly. You’re saying American officials should go and check Muslim store owners for weapons caches?

So your saying being an American citizen with a legal right to own a gun isnt enough if your Muslim? Well how about Christians or Baptist? Should they have their stores swept as well?

Politricks on September 25, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Did the store the jihadis rented space for actually open? Was the space rented appropriate for the type of store it was supposed to be? Mall contracts for space should require a very fast opening date from the signing of the lease, and allow mall owners a lot of “in” to inspect any under-construction store space. Exceptions can be made for company-owned stores that are part of a large conglomerate. They gut everything, and out their own shelving, etc up, but it is unlikely the area manager of Victoria’s Secret works for Al Qaeda.

Sekhmet on September 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Of the 55 homes in your development, 41 are now occupied by Muslims. Signs start appearing taped to the mailboxes of kaffirs advising their females only to appear in public with heads covered.

What do you do?

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Assuming (a la dent) that I can’t move away before that occurs, I:
1) notify the USPS that someone is tampering with mailboxes
2) distribute leaflets to all the door knobs in the neighborhood declaring that any violence directed against women in the neighborhood will be met with force
3) post a large sign declaring lan astaslem in a window
4) stock up on ammunition
5) recruit the other infidels in the neighborhood into a neighborhood watch program, including patrols if necessary
6) render incapable of metabolic function the first SOB that crosses the line with me or mine

GWB on September 25, 2013 at 1:08 PM

3) post a large sign declaring lan astaslem in a window

GWB on September 25, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Molon Labe is another phrase that was previously popularized against Arab invaders….

I already have a t-shirt that says “Infidel At Play” with a silhouette of an AR-15. I’d be wearing that more often.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 1:17 PM

So… know of any Muslim store owners? The smart thing for our government to do would be to sweep them for weapons caches. That is what governments interested in national security do in times of war. Identify the enemy (Islam) and then scrutinize efficiently.

IronDioPriest on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Mosks would be a more appropriate target. In most other countries mosks are used for planning attacks and stockpiling weapons.

slickwillie2001 on September 25, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Yeah, and “governments interested in national security in times of war” also put squinty-eyed people in internment camps. Oh wait, maybe we shouldn’t do stuff like that.

ATG on September 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM

That would be during the last war we won, right?

WryTrvllr on September 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Kenya arrested 11 terrorists, which may be a big intelligence coup that pays off later.

Milk them for information.

Then execute them.

GarandFan on September 25, 2013 at 1:49 PM

“It was completely indiscriminate murder.”

No. No it was not.

WryTrvllr on September 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM

“It was completely indiscriminate murder.”

No. No it was not.

WryTrvllr on September 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Very true – they specifically discriminated against non-Muslims.
Where’s Holder with some “hate crime” charges?
Oh ya – he doesn’t file those against Muslims or “minorities”.

dentarthurdent on September 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM