The attack at Westgate Mall Kenya on Saturday, September 21, 2013, was quickly deemed a terrorist attack by that country’s government. International terrorism attacks are nothing new, but this latest violence, which lasted three days, seems to be different due to some reports that indicate the victims and attackers comprised people from the U.S. and U.K. Now we are left to determine what drove radicals from the U.S. and U.K. to such violence and whether or not this is the beginning of a new sort of global terror.
When the news of the mass shooting at Westgate Mall in Kenya first broke, people were quick to conclude the attack was terror related, unlike the recent spate of mass shootings in the U.S. However, as Susie Madrak blogged in “Mass Shooting at Kenyan Mall Believed to be Terror Attack” for CrooksandLiars.com September 21, 2013, officials were less quick to name a culprit. However, many believed in the early days that the terrorism was linked to a Somali rebel group, al-Shabab, which had vowed “in late 2011 to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya’s sending of troops into Somalia to fight the Islamic insurgents.”
As the news was first being reported, witnesses were reported saying that the attackers were targeting non-Muslims at the upscale Westgate Mall, which was hosting a children’s day event that Saturday. Madrak also blogged that the shopping mall catered to “expatriates and rich Kenyans in Nairobi’s affluent Westlands neighborhood.”
The siege in Westgate Mall took international terrorism to a new level when the news was revealed that several of the perpetrators were U.S. and U.K. citizens. CBS News reported in “Kenya mall attack terrorists included “two or three” Americans, Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed says” September 23, 2013, about the attackers’ nationality, writing “that the Americans were 18 to 19 years-old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived “in Minnesota and one other place” in the U.S. The attacker from Britain was a woman who has “done this many times before,” Mohamed said.
Meanwhile, a State Department spokeswoman told CBS News that they had “no definitive evidence of the nationalities or the identities” of the terrorists involved in the Westgate Mall Kenya attack.
Perhaps more important to many is the motivation for the attacks. The CBS News article cites that al-Shabab was indeed behind the international terrorism attacks. However, while the group had claimed responsibility for the terrorism attacks, they said it was in retaliation for Kenyan troops being used to fight against the group in Somalia. Experts, however, suspect that the attack was also intended as a propaganda tool for the group, to draw in more recruits and maintain their relevance on the world stage.
End of the standoff
At the end of the three-day standoff, the death toll was over 60 and included three Kenyan soldiers and six of the terrorists. However, there appeared to still be a great deal of confusion about the number of hostages involved in the terrorism attacks in the Westgate Mall, as well as the fate of those individuals.
Nicholas Soi and Robyn Dixon reported for The LA Times September 24, 2013, in “Kenya mall attack: Three soldiers killed, officials say” that “Early Tuesday, Kenyan officials referred to rescued hostages, without offering details of how many had been saved or where they had been taken.” Meanwhile the group, al-Shabab, which has now officially claimed responsibility for the terrorism, has continued to post on Twitter their own version of the events in the mall including claims that “casualties were higher than Kenyan authorities had admitted.” As more details about this horrible terrorism attack come to light, hopefully survivors and the loved ones of the victims will have more answers.
What do you think? Does this open a new chapter in international terrorism attacks or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.