Kenya shopping mall attack: Politicians to quiz senior security officials over 'intelligence failings' prior to deadly siege

Reports allege that security services had at least twice warned the government of an attack as Kenyan Red Cross says 39 people are still listed as missing

Nairobi

Kenyan politicians are to quiz senior security officials in a bid to identify alleged intelligence failings following the Westgate attack amid reports that the security services had at least twice warned the government of an attack on the upscale shopping mall months earlier.

Lawmakers are scrambling to apportion blame for failure to anticipate the audacious terror attack carried out by Islamist militants from Somalia’s al-Shabaab group that killed at least 67 people, and left the East African country reeling.

Politicians visited Westgate for the first time today where searchers are still sifting through the rubble for bodies after Kenyan forces demolished part of the complex to bring the four-day siege to an end, potentially trapping hostages underneath.

A British man questioned over the attack has been released without charge, the Foreign Office has said. The police became suspicious about bruising on his face, and detained him at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport last week.

Officials have dismissed suggestions that dozens of bodies could still be buried in the rubble, saying that everyone has been accounted for. Kenya’s Red Cross said today that 39 people are still listed as missing, down from the figure of 60 it released last Friday.

The investigation by politicians comes as Kenyans heap scorn on the response to the attacks following an overwhelming show of unity in the early days of the siege. Ministers have been accused of releasing inaccurate information during the siege, and of attempting to mislead the public over the actual number of dead.

“We want to promise you that as parliament we will investigate, establish and see whether the people who were directly in charge of our security slept on their jobs,” said Asman Kamama, head of the committee.

Michael Gichangi, head of the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), is expected to receive a particularly rigorous cross-examination amid perceived intelligence gaps. He will be the first to appear in front of the committee later this week.

But he is expected to refute suggestions that the authorities were not warned of the attack.

According to a leaked intelligence dossier, the NIS issued a report last September stating that suicide bombers were planning to launch attacks on Westgate mall and the Holy Family Basilica, a Nairobi church.

Details of the report – said to be 8,800 pages long – leaked to the Kenyan media reveal a surprising level of detail about the identity of the suspected attackers, where they are thought to live, their suppliers, as well as the weaponry they are said to have obtained.

Most intriguingly, the report states that the NIS warned of a terror attack between September 13 and 20. The file also claimed that the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi had warned of an attack during the Jewish holidays from Sep 4 to Sep 28, although Hezbollah and Iran were suspected rather than al-Shabaab. The Westgate mall is at least part Israeli-owned.

The dossier, which is unsigned and unaddressed, but appears to have been written for the attention of the security apparatus, provides the clearest indication yet that senior officials knew of the terror threats, including the interior minister, defence chief and the president’s office, and apparently failed to act on them.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku refused to be drawn on the issue at the weekend, saying only that intelligence matters must remain confidential.

Much of Kenyans’ ire, particularly on social media, has been directed at Mr Ole Lenku, who angered many by insensitively claiming an “insignificant” number of people were trapped under the rubble at the mall.

A former hotelier, he was parachuted into the sensitive role without any apparent experience in security. During briefings to the media, he appeared out of his depth when suggesting that Kenyan forces were in control at Westgate when the sound of loud explosions and gunfire suggested otherwise.

Eight people are still being held on suspicion of involvement in the terror attack, the worst on Kenyan soil since the US Embassy bombings in 1998 that killed over 200. Al-Shabab said the attack was retaliation for Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia in 2011 aimed at crushing the militant group. 

Lawmakers hinted the Somali refugee community in Kenya could pay the price for Westgate, saying that the refugee camps, which hold some half a million Somalis, were a breeding ground for Somali terror.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition