Leaked findings blame Kenyan security failures for Westgate siege

The Western intelligence report warns of further attacks from al-Shabaab across the region

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 to take place, according to a leaked Western security report.

There was a “high degree of likelihood”, it also maintained, that al-Shabaab, the Somali Islamist group behind the siege in the Kenyan capital last month, would carry out attacks in other countries in the region.

Dozens of FBI officers arrived in Kenya following the Westgate siege to help with the investigation. Based on information received from the US administration, Uganda has just raised its threat-alert level for possible attacks.

Although Islamists from abroad may have been involved in planning the attack, Kenyan nationals also have extensive links with al-Shabaab and play key roles in attacks in the country and elsewhere, the assessment says.

The report, seen by The Independent, was compiled by one of the security agencies of a Western power with military presence in the region.

Samantha Lewthwaite, the British jihadist known as the “White Widow”, has been the subject of huge publicity, but intelligence analysts maintain she is of little more than “symbolic” and “propaganda” value to Islamist terrorists. They said there was little credible evidence she has meaningful knowledge or experience of operations.

The analysts noted 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, a Jewish holiday, in Kenya, but, the report says, its focus was on the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.

The document 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 Lewthwaite, who had been married to Germaine Lindsay, one of those who had carried out the 7/7 London suicide bombings. The analysts who compiled the report say there was no evidence that she was present at the scene.

More recently, some Kenyan officials had 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 group fled pretending to be civilians are supported by testimonies as well as other means gathered subsequently.

Foreign jihadists from up to half a dozen countries were said to have been involved in the Westgate attack. This weekend, it was revealed that a Norwegian national born in Somalia, Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, may be one of the two bodies which have been discovered under the collapsed mall.

The report stresses that there has been extensive Kenyan involvement with al-Shabaab, with around 300 of the country’s nationals fighting in the organisation’s ranks. Two Kenyans, Hussein Hassan Agade and Idris Magondu, were involved in suicide bombings of football fans watching the World Cup final on television in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in 2010.

One of those sought in a failed raid by US Navy Seals in the Somali town of Baraawe following the Westlands siege was Mohamed Abdikadir “Ikrima” Mohamed, a Kenyan who is accused of heading several terrorist plots. “Ikrima” had spent some time in Norway and is believed to have played a part in recruiting from the Somali diaspora in Western Europe.

Heavy-handed actions by Kenyan security forces had driven some young Kenyan Muslims towards militancy, with the issue exploited by Islamists.

Concern about abuse has also stymied the bringing-in of tougher anti-terrorist legislation. A number of prosecutions, including those of extremist preachers, through the courts have failed down the years.

Corruption among mid- and junior-level local officials had enabled militant groups to obtain passports, permits and passes. The dossier states that senior Kenyan officials acknowledge the extent of the problem.

A joint committee of Kenya’s National Assembly has dismissed claims that members of security forces stole money and looted from the mall during the siege after, it said, it had carried out an investigation.

The security forces’ command and control also needed a thorough review in the light of Westgate, the document says. There were problems with communications, it says, and notes complaints made by Kenyan officials of divisive rivalry. One example was the police’s relatively well-trained General Service Unit being sidelined when the army moved in and there was not adequate exchange of information. The analysts accept, however, that such problems among differing agencies have occurred during urban emergencies in a number of states, including those in the West.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
Extras
indybest
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
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
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

Graduate Web Developer

£18000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Graduate Database Developer (SQL)

£18000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Community / Stakeholder Manager - Solar PV

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Senior Marketing Executive (B2B/B2C) - London

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor