On The Ground: Implications Of Westgate Attack
BMI View: One of our analysts on the ground was in Nairobi during the Westgate attack, Kenya's worst terrorist atrocity since the 1998 US embassy bombing. The incident raises significant questions about the efficacy of the security forces, which appear ill-equipped to handle an increasingly mobile, asymmetric and sophisticated al-Shabaab.
One of BMI's analysts was in Nairobi during the Westgate attack and its aftermath. Here, we present his observations on the implications of the incident.
The terror attack and siege at Nairobi's up-market Westgate mall, which began on September 21 and was officially declared to be over by President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 24, confirmed al-Shabaab's ability to launch large-scale operations on Kenyan soil. The extremist Salafi group, which was the dominant politico-military force in Somalia until a couple of years ago, has been threatening to carry out large-scale attacks against Kenya since before the latter's military invaded southern Somalia in October 2011 (see 'On The Ground Analysis: Somalia Embroilment Creates Rising Risks', July 10, 2013). However, until now, al-Shabaab's activities in Kenya have generally been limited to small-scale gun or grenade attacks against police posts, bars and bus stops, which have usually claimed the lives of one or two people at a time.