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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
filmEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
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

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Biology Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently recruiting...

.NET Developer / Web Developer / Software Developer - £37,000

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering