It is becoming painfully apparent that the authorities in Kenya might be withholding the true number of dead hostages. This is because of the embarassment caused by corrupt soldiers who cordoned off the mall and then proceeded to loot merchandise, steal money out of safes and cash registers and get drunk on the alcohol in the restaurants.
It is no wonder some terrorists might have escaped. There are now reports that there may have only been four gunmen. There are allegations that the Kenyan government has intentionally misrepresented some of the facts or simply covered the fatcs up. There are also reasons to believe that the terrorists paid security forces to look the other way as al Shabaab’s killers brought their weapons into the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
But armed citizens performed very well during the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi. The hostages held by al Shabaab terrorists in Westgate did not fare well, however. The government reports 60-70 dead but there is reason to believe the number is far higher and that even the identities of the victims are puposely being covered up!
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble suggested to ABC in October that the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world should look to armed citizens as a solution to such attacks on public places.
Noble said there are really only two choices for protecting open societies from attacks like the one on Westgate mall where so-called “soft targets” are hit. More professional security or allow civilians to carry their own guns to protect themselves:
“Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?” Noble said, referring to states with pro-gun traditions. “What I’m saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”
“Societies have to think about how they’re going to approach the problem,” Noble said. “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”
Reports are mixed but it looks like the Kenyan army troops and special forces may have caused the collapse of a roof which buried many hostages in rubble and may have helped some of the attackers posing as victims to escape.
The authorities in Kenya received specific warnings related to the Westgate Mall for many months but failed to develop basic response plans that would facilitate a coordinated response. Kenyan forces arrived four hours after the attack began. According to the Telegraph:
No radio contacts were set up between the units. No overall command had been appointed, and different commanders squabbled. A senior policeman was shot dead in a friendly-fire incident. Chaotic gunfire streaked across the mall’s open spaces.
Kenyan commanders did not listen to advice from UK operatives and others that attempted to give advice. When Kenyan troops entered the area where the hostages were held, they shot at the terrorists with an RPG and brought down part of the structure. Then the “White Widow escaped, crying with her clothes covered in blood to disguise herself as a victim.
An SAS trooper armed with a pistol shot it out with al-Shabaab and led hundreds to safety. The ex Royal Marine was at the Westgate mall when it was attacked. He had a pistol and hostages were still being held by the terrorists, possibly as many as 13. The former soldier returned to the building on a dozen occasions while taking fire, saving 100 people.
A local businessman, arrived at the mall to help his brother and carried a four-year-old to safety. A Kenyan Hindu neighborhood patrol also came with their pistols and forced the terrorists back. The fact that Kenyan officers took action against the armed neighborhood patrol, may have contributed to the stand-off which lasted for eighty-hours!
Four large explosions occurred. Smoke poured through a skylight inside the mall’s main department and grocery store, according to the Associated Press. Sorting through the rubble is a slow process because of the threat of bombs.
Nevertheless, the initial reports indicate mass torture with victims hung from hooks, eyes gouged out, castrations, rape and mutilation of limbs, fingers removed and hands and faces burned. By including children in the carnage, the terrorists are seeking to create so much hatred for all Muslims that the backlash of persecution against innocent Muslims will radicalize as many Muslims as possible.
Reports from Kenya describe a technique in which the al Shabaab terrorists “sharpened the arms” of the victims and forced them to write their names in blood with their limbs as writing implements.
Torture is the way Communist and other radical terrorist organizations have always worked. But such gruesome techniques are nevertheless shocking.
The other lesson the terrorists want to drive home is that governments cannot respond well to such attacks. On the other hand, we know from many recent attacks in the U.S. that ordinary people closest to the initial attack have the best opportunity to stop the carnage- if we are armed and ready to bring violence to bear that is just as sudden, bold and deliberate as the actions of the attackers. The former SAS-Royal Marine was just having coffee when all hell broke loose!
The armed citizen’s identity has been withheld for security reasons. The British train and operate out of Kenya and members of the British Royal Marine work with governments and security firms across East Africa. The “former” SAS member may have been a professional operator employed by a government or private industry. On the other hand, he could have just been retired and found himself at the wrong place with the right weapon at the right time to save lives!
Nevertheless, the fact remains that his heroism under fire is within the grasp of anyone that takes the trouble to carry and train continuously. You may die going against several automatic rifles with a pistol. But it is better to die and break up a well-rehearsed jihad operation than to die cowering in a corner.