Westgate Mall Massacre Round-Up: The Latest News and Analysis

The attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, by al Shabaab terrorists, appears to be almost over. I’ll keep updating this as I find smart analysis and up-to-date reports:

UPDATED: 10/4

  • “The Kenyan government continues to insist that five attackers were killed by its security forces, but has admitted that none of their bodies has been conclusively identified so far” – from the most comprehensive report I’ve seen so far

UPDATED: 9/30

  • “We believe issuing the travel advisory is counter-productive in the fight against global terrorism,” Ole Lenku said.”We request the United States, as a friend of Kenya, to lift the travel advisory” – Reuters on the Kenyan government’s reaction to America updating its travel advisory
  • Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times’ East Africa Bureau Chief, with a personal reflection and analysis of the attack that’s worth reading

UPDATED: 9/27

  • “The masked gunmen who stormed Nairobi’s Westgate Mall on Saturday did one thing right. In targeting a site at the epicenter of elite consumerism in the upscale neighborhood of Westlands, they galvanized worldwide attention.” – a post from Africa is a Country that tries to understand why the world cares about the Westgates but not all of the other terrible things that happen

UPDATED: 9/26

  • “A gaping hole in the mall’s roof was caused by Kenyan soldiers who fired rocket-propelled grenades inside, knocking out a support column, a government official said” – an Associated Press report on the clean-up and investigation
  • “A day or two before the attack, powerful belt-fed machine guns were secretly stashed in a shop in the mall with the help of a colluding employee, officials say” – a New York Times report on the planning and preparation members of al Shabaab are thought to have done
  • “In areas that the militia controlled, Godane imposed strict Islamic sharia law enforced by public executions, amputations and stonings. The measures were so harsh, Hansen said, that even Osama bin Laden criticized him for going too far in implementing sharia and for killing other Muslims.” – a profile of Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, (or Godane, as he’s known), the currently leader of al Shabaab
  • “Asked if al-Shabab had intended to kill foreigners, the group said “our target was to attack the Kenyan govt on it’s soil and any part of the Kenyan territory is a legitimate target … and Kenya should be held responsible for the loss of life, whether foreigners or local”” – Associated Press report

9/24

  • “Far from spreading fear that al Shabaab is on the ascendency, the Westgate attack should be seen as a last-ditch attempt by an ailing group to bolster its own internal networks…” – interesting take by a security analyst on al-Shabaab’s attack
  • “The terrorists are divided and losing ground. But they seem determined to go down fighting.” – another interesting take, focusing more on the political economy of al-Shabab and its internal power struggle that left the more extreme element ascendant
  • “On Saturday, as the full nature of the Westgate raid became clear, al-Shabab on Twitter claimed this was the first of many attacks to come. If it quickly executes other attacks in Kenya, this would suggest a profound resurgence. If it fails to generate another attack over the next six months, the Westgate attack may represent a last desperate attempt to generate popular support, resources, and personnel.” – Foreign Policy analysis on the attack and what it does and doesn’t show about al Shabaab’s current state (short version: not sure)
  • A very good backgrounder on the rise of Salafi Islam in Kenya and Somalia, from the perspective of Kenyan al Shabaab deserters, in Foreign Affairs earlier this year
  • “Then a huge explosion really swept us off our feet – it was like a big gust of wind…” – an 18-year old South Africa at Westgate during the attack talks about his experience

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