The date, September 21, 2013, will always be a dark day for Kenya, for its the day terrorists associated with the Somali group, Al Shabaab attacked an upscale mall in Nairobi, The Westgate Mall. As a result, 67 lives were lost, close to 200 people were injured, property worth millions of shillings was damaged. A lot more has been lost in terms of the effect such terrorist attacks have on economies, especially a fragile economy like Kenya’s. The pain of waiting in agony as Kenya’s security forces tried to take the mall back from the terrorists cannot be quantified.
The attacks will forever be a dark spot in Kenya’s history. We were all caught by surprise by the attacks and if there is one thing that the Al Shabaab taught us was that they mean business. They are ready and willing to die for their cause. Which begged the question, are our security forces ready, prepared and able to handle these terrorists. The recently released report by the two Parliamentary Committees that were investigating the attacks sheds a very poor light on Kenya’s security forces. That report instead of giving me answers actually made me really pissed off! These are the things that pissed me off.
I) KENYAN SECURITY AGENTS IGNORED WARNINGS ABOUT THE ATTACKS – TWICE!
According to the Sunday Nation, one of the warnings was actually 19 days before the attack. 19 DAYS!
“One of the warnings was issued just 19 days to the attack on September 21 last year, and the other at the beginning of August. Shockingly, police did not move to secure the identified targets”
“Another intelligence briefing in February 2013 warned of attacks like those that happened in Mumbai in late 2008, where the operatives storm a building with guns and grenades and probably hold hostages. It is unclear what measures were put in place to prevent the attacks,” says the report.
“Chillingly, an intelligence report warned about an impending attack on Westgate exactly a year to the day of the attack. The briefing, dated September 21, 2012, said Somali militants from the al-Shabaab terror group were planning to attack the Israeli-owned mall.”
“There was general information on the impending terror attack on all the malls and other strategic Western interests, especially in Nairobi. The information was made available to the relevant security officers in Nairobi County on August 6, 2013 and on September 2, 2013,” says the report of the Joint Committee of National Security and Defence and Foreign Relations.
While it is not surprising that Kenya’s Security agents are complacent, and ineffective, it pisses me off that there were many many lives that were destroyed on this day, all because someone some where chose to ignore the intelligence. What pisses me off the most is that, there are no heads rolling following such complacency!
As a country that is highly dependent on tourism as a source of income, it should be seen that measures are being taken to ensure the security of Kenyan citizens and their visitors. Am pissed off because everyone seems to be moving on with life.
Someone should lose their jobs, someone should be made to pay as sign that Kenya will not accept such errors in judgement. Oh yeah I forgot ….it is KENYA!
II) THE KENYA DEFENSE FORCES SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DEPLOYED
The Kenya Defense Forces need not have been deployed since GSU Reece squad had already cornered the terrorists. According to the Sunday Nation
“Involvement of the military should be a last resort decision, especially if there is external threat to a nation’s security. The presidential directive to have the Inspector-General to take command of the Westgate Mall operation was proper. The Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces should have ordinarily consulted with the Inspector-General of Police and should have withheld the deployment of KDF,” experts told the MPs inquiring into the attack.
“During the siege, the Recce Company from the General Service Unit (GSU) had contained the terrorists in one corner of the Westgate mall. There was, however, poor coordination by the multiagency forces during the operation. The change-over between the Kenya Defence Forces and the police was uncoordinated, which calls for the establishment of an incident Command Control Protocol,” says the report.
While it pisses me off that the changeover to KDF allowed time for terrorist to reorganize themselves, this here exposes the fact that the leaders of the various security agents are not trained enough to deal with such attacks and it pissed me off knowing the the top brass does not take the new security threats seriously enough to afford training that will next time prevent such a debacle and error in judgement.
I will not get into KDF looting, while it show a lack of discipline, it mirrors a greater problem of poverty due to poor pay. We cannot expect the soldiers to be disciplined and not help themselves to things, while their remuneration is very low.
As Kenyans wait on parliament to discuss the report, it seems like we are doomed and at the mercy of terrorists. There is a major need to overhaul and revamp our security agents in order for them to deal with the new security situation that faces Kenya.
What pissed me off the most, is that life will go on, its the Kenyan way. I do not expect many changes within the security agents. Its frustrating to know that, the people we have in charge of our security seem to take a casual approach to Kenya’s and Kenyans’ security. THAT PISSED ME OFF!