Tuesday, 29 October 2013

EA cautioned over fresh terror attack

September 21,2013 Nairobi: The attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall that lasted for almost a week leaving 67 people dead. 

Posted  Monday, October 28  2013 at  07:58
In Summary
Analysts say intelligence failures, corruption, and police rivalry is bane of anti-terror efforts 
The intelligence sees high degree of likelihood that Al Shabaab would carry out attacks in other countries in the East African region

The East African region faces another serious terrorist attack, according to a leaked US security report, whose authors claim to have “thoroughly studied the nature of the Nairobi’s Westgate siege,” The Citizen has learnt.
The report, whose details were first published by UK’s Independent newspaper, also says intelligence failures, weaknesses in anti-terrorism laws, corruption, excesses and rivalry among police and army units, created the conditions for the Nairobi shopping mall siege.
 It says there is a “high degree of likelihood”, that al-Shabaab, the Somali terror group behind the siege in the Kenyan capital last month, would carry out attacks in other countries in the East African region.
Though the report doesn’t clearly name Tanzania or any other country as the next target, it uses the phrases like, “high degree of likelihood” in the East African region.
In Tanzania, 11 youths suspected to be Al Shabaab followers were arrested in the gas-rich region of Mtwara early this month. Two more suspects were also netted last week, and are believed to be accomplices the “Mtwara 11”.
 Though The Citizen hasn’t independently verified whether the Mtwara suspects are indeed members of Al Shabaab, or the reason for their choice of the gas-rich region which in recent months has seen unrest cast a bleak future for the area.
This is because in the past, al-Qaeda members in West Africa region, especially Algeria, have targeted the gas and oil rich areas with plans to kill Western workers.
 Tanzania has no soldiers in African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia, a role that could have attracted Al Shabaab’s wrath, but the warning by US security analysts insists that “there would be another serious attacks” in the region.
A quick survey by The Citizen has established that since the Westgate Shopping Mall attack, all major hotels and upmarket business facilities in Dar es Salaam, have been placed under tight security with owners being instructed to install arms detectors at all entries.
 All vehicles entering any such facilities have to undergo special security checks for hidden bombs or firearms.
Police spokesperson Advera Senso has said that in maintaining security while at the same time trying to forestall attacks, the police force is banking on cooperation from people.
 “People must report to security organs any people or foreigners with suspect behaviour,” Ms Senso said in an interview with The Citizen yesterday. She added that the force is currently training the public, especially on the border regions, in  crime prevention, starting from family level.

She reminded owners of big hotels and malls to continue with screening customers entering their premises, besides installing CCTVs.
 In 1998, several innocent Tanzanians died and others sustained injuries when al-Qaeda operatives bombed the US embassy in Dar es Salaam.
And this year in Arusha, the country’s tourist hub, suffered two major attacks believed to have been carried out by terrorists. While no group has claimed responsibility, two rival political parties, CCM and Chadema, accused each other of plotting and executing the senseless attacks.
The report, which the UK paper claims to have seen, was compiled by a security agency in the US which has a military presence in the East Africa region. Samantha Lewthwaite, the British jihadist known as the “White Widow”, has been the subject of huge publicity, but intelligence analysts maintain she is only of “symbolic” and “propaganda” value to Islamist terrorists. They said there was little evidence to show she has any meaningful knowledge or experience of terrorist operations.
The analysts note that there had been several warnings about a possible attack in Nairobi, going back to the beginning of the year. They point out that the Kenyan media had revealed that security forces were at the shopping complex just 24 hours before the assault, but had failed to discover the weapons stashed in a store by the insurgents.
The Israeli government had also voiced concern over a possible atrocity during that period, but, the report says, its focus was on the Lebanese Shia group, Hezbollah.
The leaked report, according to The Independent, states: “The current reviews being carried out should show why the leads were not properly followed up.”
It adds, however, that “the veracity and provenance of some of the material was of a variable nature” and “confusingly sourced”.
The Kenyan authorities had initially stated that up to a dozen people carried out the Westgate attack, with witnesses claiming a woman was one of them, leading to speculation that it was Ms Lewthwaite, who had been married to Germaine Lindsay, one of the attackers who executed the 7/7 London suicide bombings. However, the analysts who compiled the report say there was no evidence that she was present at the scene.
More recently, some Kenyan officials changed the number involved in the armed attack to no more than four. Western analysts who compiled the dossier say the figure is too low, and accounts at the time that some of the killers fled masquerading as civilians are supported by testimonies as well as other means gathered subsequently.
Additional reporting by Alex Bitekeye