Skip to comments.Blame game over Westgate attack (Terrorist attack in Kenya)
Posted on 09/27/2013 6:18:07 AM PDT by spetznaz
Rivalry among security agencies and lack of clear command lines badly affected the response to the terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall, the Nation has established.
Jurisdictional differences appear to have extended to blame games among security agencies, as Kenya recovers from its worst terror attack since the 1998 bombing of the Embassy of the United States of America in Nairobi.
Various units of the Kenya Police and the Kenya Defence Forces played key roles in the rescue operation after a band of terrorists linked to Somalia-based Al-Shabaab attacked the shopping mall on Saturday and killed dozens before holding an unknown number hostage inside the up-market complex.
Inquiries by the Nation indicate that a coordinated rescue mission was badly delayed because of disputes between the Kenya Police and KDF officers commanding their units on the ground.
A reconstruction of the rescue mission indicates that a team from the Recce General Service Unit of the Kenya Police early in the rescue operation made its way into the mall and secured most of it, pinning down the terrorists at one end around Nakumatt Supermarket and Barclays Bank.
However, the team pulled out after its commander was fatally shot in friendly fire following the arrival of a KDF unit.
Also pulling out at the same time was a small group of policemen from various units and armed civilians, who were the first to enter the mall from the rooftop parking and the front entrance and led hundreds of shoppers to safety.
The pullout left a vacuum that apparently allowed the terrorists to regroup and move through the mall slaughtering many captives.
It also allowed the terrorists to deploy heavy-calibre machine guns that they had not used in the earlier shootout.
It took prolonged consultations that also involved State House before President Kenyatta publicly announced that Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo was in charge.
However, it was also decided that KDF Special Forces would be the ones to conduct the actual assault on the terrorists, while the GSU and other police units ringed the mall.
The soldiers and their commanders on the ground only answered to KDF chief General Julius Karangi rather than to the police boss, which also complicated the operation. The teams also appeared to have had different aims. One officer involved said that some units had a priority to locate and rescue a specific group of VIPs.
Barely an hour after the attack, the GSU squad had taken control of almost 70 per cent of the building after moving in to reinforce the small group of policemen, who were the first to enter the building.
The KDF Special Forces came in later to spearhead the operation, with the GSU forming the second inner cordon in the mall behind the army units from the 20 Para Battalion and Maroon Commandos.
The rivalry is understood to have extended to communication on how the public would be informed of the progress of the operation.
As Parliament promised to demand answers from all units involved, it also emerged on Wednesday that the police had been given advance intelligence on the planned terrorist attack, but failed to act.
The Parliamentary Defence Committee Thursday summoned all security chiefs including National Intelligence Service boss Michael Gichangito appear before it next week. The sessions are expected to be dominated by buck-passing.
The time for responsibility and accountability has come, Defence Committee chairman Ndungu Gethenji said.
Serious questions will need to be asked regarding a) why security alerts over an impending attack may have been overlooked, especially considering the big black budget the intelligence agency gets for training (US and Israeli) as well as for keeping tabs on Somali terrorist activities. Another question, b), will be on the way the various agencies that responded to the situation did NOT communicate and work effectively with one another.
Within an hour of the attack the GSU Recce division, as well as several armed police and some armed civilians, had rushed into the mall and secured MOST of it. The vast majority of people who were rescued from the mall escaped during this time. Not only that, but they managed to trap the terrorists at one end of the mall ...which allowed the evacuation. Now, the GSU Recce squad is one of the best trained Kenyan units, with the Israelis playing a huge part on training and weapons (M4s), and was the unit best placed to handle the situation. The Recce squad had normal armed police surround the place), and they went in to relieve the armed civilians who had done a brave job of holding the tide.
Pictures of the Recce squad and of armed citizens below:
Then what happened? The Kenya Army gets involved, with the Kenya Army Special Operations Force (comprised of Army Special Forces, Army Rangers and 20 Para commandoes) moving in. Now, these guys are well trained with, based on the few public sources of information, the Rangers trained by the Americans and the Special Forces by the British. Pictures of those units below:
However, they were the wrong chaps to have there. For one, the reporting structures are totally different. GSU Recce is a special Police Force unit, reporting to the commissioner of police. The army forces report to the head of the armed forces. Problem one. Problem two is that the army guys shot one of the cops. Problem three is the GSU Recce withdrew, since the army probably said they were taking over, and the army didn't fill the vacuum.
Well, the terrorists retook lost ground, had time to properly prepare, took additional hostages - and killed more people - and by the time the whole thing was over part of the roof had collapsed.
Thus, the time for hard questions has come, and while for most of the week it was more about rescuing people and getting the terrorists, now it is time for lessons learned. Not just in how the operation was handled, but also some of the failures that include having a porous border, having huge refugee camps that have many Somalis, and tackling the financing of these terror groups (most of the terror money in the horn of Africa has to come to Nairobi since there is really nowhere else nearby that can be considered modern it can go to with similar ease).
It's a good thing over a thousand people were saved, but there are still several hard questions that need to be answered.
Can’t we just blame the terrorists?
Can’t we find out the things that could have been done better to be better prepared for the next attack?
Pointing fingers is stupid
Terrorists get it...the US won’t EVEN act to to help our OWN diplomats and security people in Benghazi... Soooo...terrorists can do what they want, anywhere!
There is a power vacuum and the world knows it!!!... Thanks “O”
Meanwhile - a little while ago the government told Kenyans there are no more bodies and no one else is missing. This- while doctors and soldiers are telling of bodies being found that were brutally tortured and the Red Cross says around 70 still missing.
Somehow, I think this country is going to end up "more like Africa".
When all is said and done, ultimately it will be Bush’s fault.
It sounds to me like the army was sent in there to rescue the terrorists and make sure they had enough time to do what they were sent in to do, especially when we find out that only a handful of terrorists were killed while the vast majority were taken alive to terrorize another day.
Could not help but notice the trigger fingers in image #3
Isn’t Obama’s cousin the Prime Minister?