Kenya intelligence reports show persistent threats

Authorities said the militants used a Mitsubishi Lancer to block the main entrance of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Associated Press/File
Authorities said the militants used a Mitsubishi Lancer to block the main entrance of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

NAIROBI — An internal report by Kenya’s National Intelligence Service indicates that the agency was aware that Al Qaeda-linked extremists posed multiple threats to the East African country and that intelligence officials had achieved a high level of penetration into their operations.

The report contains security briefings over the past year for Kenyan government and security officials.

Authorities have been accused of bungling the operation to retake Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall from terrorists who stormed it on Sept. 21, killing more than 60 people and holding parts of it for several days.


The Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Some excerpts from the report:

 Sept. 21, 2012: ‘‘The following suspected Al Shabab operatives are in Nairobi and are planning to mount suicide attacks on undisclosed date, targeting Westgate Mall and Holy Family Basilica; Sheikh Abdiwelli Mohamed, Sheikh Hussein, and Sheikh Hassan.

“They are believed to be in possession of two suicide vests, 12 hand grenades and two AK 47 rifles and have already surveyed the two targets. They are being assisted by Sheikh Hassan, alias Blackie of Majengo, and Omar Ahmed Ali, alias Jerry, who are currently staying near Mamba Petrol Station and Huruma Mosque along Juja Road.’’

 Feb. 1, 2013: ‘‘Other reports indicate that by late December 2012, Al Shabab was training female operatives to engage in hijacking of aircrafts and crashing them as well as suicide bombing. Upon completion they were to be sent to western countries and to countries which had contributed troops to Amisom [the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia].


‘‘The envisaged modus operandi include, but is not exclusive to, Mumbai-attack style, where the operatives storm into a building with guns and grenades and probably hold hostages.’’

 June 25: Radicalization of Muslim youth is also going on, especially in Mombasa and Nairobi. In Mombasa, Sheikh Ibrahim Ismael Amru has been giving lectures at Masjid Minaa in Kisauni, urging Muslims to support Jihad.’’

[Gunmen killed the Muslim cleric and three others in Mombasa on Thursday. The cleric’s supporters alleged that the killing was a reprisal by Kenyan security forces for the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.]

 Aug. 26: ‘‘Some Al Shabab operatives whose identities are yet to be established are planning to attack Times Tower and Nyayo House buildings within Nairobi on an unspecified date. They intend to use fire engines loaded with explosives to carry out the attacks.’’

 September: “Following a noticeable rise in the level of threat, specific briefs on the threat were made to the following: cabinet secretary, national treasury; cabinet secretary, interior; cabinet secretary, foreign affairs; cabinet secretary, defense, chief of defense forces.


‘‘Briefs were made to them informing them of increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa on 13th and 20th September.’’

Kenya’s counterterrorism police unit released closed-circuit footage Sunday showing two men on Sept. 6 entering a local bank, where they collected money and paid for a car used to bring terrorists to the Westgate Mall, indicating that the deadly attack was planned weeks in advance, officials said.

Boniface Mwaniki, the head of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, said the men had gone to Barclays Bank and retrieved enough money to pay for the $4,000 car.

The Mitsubishi Lancer was found blocking the entrance of the mall with two grenade pins inside, indicating the grenades had been thrown from inside the vehicle, Mwaniki said.

Several survivors of the attack said the terrorists first lobbed grenades into the interior of the mall, a blast which caused the glass facade of a jewelry shop to shatter, stunning the unarmed guards, who abandoned their posts.