Kenya Westgate siege: Government knew attack was possible before Nairobi massacre, say reports

Ministers were reportedly briefed on 'increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks'

The Kenyan government received warnings of a Westgate-style attack before last week's deadly siege, the country’s media outlets have revealed.

Government figures reportedly knew that an attack was possible before militant group al-Shabaab’s siege on the Westgate shopping centre, on 21 September. At least 67 people were killed, and the Kenyan Red Cross says 61 people are still missing. A sixth British citizen is now known to have died, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

As well as ammunition, the gunmen armed themselves with religious trivia questions to identify Muslims and help them to decide who to kill. A Jewish man scrawled Koranic verses on his hand after becoming aware that the attackers were asking their captives to recite specific sections of scripture. Survivors said the killers shot those who gave wrong answers.

Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported that ministers were shown leaked intelligence documents earlier this year “informing them of [the] increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks”. They were warned first in January, then in early September, that al-Shabaab was planning to single out Westgate and the Holy Family Basilica, a Roman Catholic cathedral, for attack “around September13 and 20, 2013”.

An 8,000-page dossier from the National Intelligence Service also suggested that Israel warned that buildings owned by its citizens, including the mall, could be attacked between 4 and 28 September, according to Kenya’s Standard newspaper.

Cabinet ministers that received briefings reportedly included treasury minister Julius Rotich, interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku and defence forces chief Julius Karangi.

The head of the National Intelligence Service, Michael Gichangi, will be questioned by Kenyan MPs on Monday.

A senior intelligence official told the AFP news agency that the government had been casual in its approach to the briefings.

The official said: “There is no way one can say there was no intelligence on this attack because those reports started trickling in from late last year. And they were specific with targets including Westgate."

The head of the parliamentary defence committee, Ndung'u Gethenji, told the BBC that “people need to know the exact lapses in the security system that possibly allowed this event to take place”.

As the official three days of mourning have ended, funerals of the victims who died in the four-day siege continue.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Investigo: Group Financial Controller

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Business / Operations Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible