Sep 26, 2013

    Kenya attack was well planned

    THE plot was hatched weeks or months ago on Somali soil, by Al-Shabab's "external operations arm", officials said. A team of English-speaking foreign fighters was carefully selected, along with a target: Nairobi's gleaming Westgate mall.

    The building's blueprints were studied, right down to the ventilation ducts. The attack was rehearsed and the team dispatched, slipping undetected through Kenya's porous borders.

    A day or two before the attack, powerful belt-fed machine guns were secretly stashed in a shop in the mall with the help of a colluding employee, officials said. At least one militant had even packed a change of clothes so he could slip out with fleeing civilians after the killings were done.

    That is the picture emerging, from United States security officials, of the massacre at the Westgate mall that killed scores of people over the weekend.

    After a four-day stand-off, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta claimed on Tuesday to have finally "shamed and defeated (the) attackers".

    Al-Shabab claimed yesterday that a Kenyan government assault team carried out a "demolition" of the building, burying 137 hostages in rubble. A government spokesman denied the claim and said Kenyan forces were clearing all rooms, firing as they moved and encountering no one.

    Meanwhile, a British man was arrested in Kenya following the terrorist attack, Britain's Foreign Office said. Officials would not provide his name or other details. He is believed to be in his 30s. Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said he was arrested on Monday as he tried to board a flight from Nairobi to Turkey with a bruised face and while acting suspiciously.

    AP, NYT