Nairobi might have known about attack

mallcollapseKenyan authorities are facing questions over whether they had any knowledge on the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

A Somali al-Shabaab chief said was the attack was a “message to Westerners” who had “backed Kenya’s invasion [of Somalia],” a reference to Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in 2011.

Kenya’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS), widely accused by politicians of failing to pick up chatter about the attack, has insisted it did warn the police and officials inside the President’s office before the Westgate siege, but its warnings went unheeded, The Star reported.

According to the same report, a pregnant policewoman avoided Westgate after her brother, who works for Kenyan intelligence, warned her of a terror attack. “She has told police that her brother who is a NIS officer warned her not to visit Westgate that Saturday because she would not be able to run,” a senior officer was quoted as saying.

The attack was carried out by the African branch of Al-Qaeda, and is ideologically aligned with the same jihadists that the US and NATO backed in Libya and are currently supporting in Syria.

The 2011 invasion of Libya greatly expanded Al-Qaeda’s operational capacity in both Africa and the Middle East. The death of an American ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, put the spotlight on the transfer of arms by American security agencies to jihadists they hold responsible for 9/11.

Kenya’s military says it was responsible for the massive collapse of three floors of the Mall after at least 67 people died in the siege, a top-ranking government official told The Associated Press.

When asked Friday if military action against the hostage-takers caused the collapse, the official answered: “Yes.”

The official also confirmed that Kenyan troops fired rocket-propelled grenades inside the mall, but would not say what was used to cause the collapse. The official insisted on anonymity because he was sharing sensitive intelligence information that has not been publicly released.

The top official’s confirmation backs up information given to AP by another official on Wednesday, who said soldiers were responsible for the collapse which created a gaping hole in the mall’s roof. That official said fired RPGs caused the collapse.

Four huge explosions rocked the mall Monday followed by dark smoke pouring from the shopping center, the likely time that the floors collapsed. The government has not publicly explained what caused the floors to collapse. One official earlier suggested it was caused by a mattress fire inside the Nakumatt department store.

It is believed the collapse of the floors helped to bring an end to the four-day siege at the mall, but it may have killed hostages still inside.

FBI agents —along with investigators from Britain, Canada and Germany —have been dispatched to investigate the crime scene. There have been no details on what the international team has found so far in the bullet-scarred, scorched mall. – AP