By Jack Meier, 10/1/13
On the fine morning of September 21st, at 11:30 AM, an armed group of Islamist militants walked into the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya and took everybody in the building hostage. People sitting in the café near the entrance were gunned down in cold blood, before they even had a chance to react.
At first, the governments thought they wanted a ransom. But the militants had a different plan.
“We’ll not negotiate with the Kenyan govt. as long as its forces are invading our country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest #Westgate.” Al-Shabab, the terrorist group responsible, tweeted.
They murdered and mutilated everybody they could find inside that mall. Men, women, children, none were spared. They wanted to send a message to the world.
They hunted down people in their hiding places, like some deranged person’s idea of a game of hide and seek.
The Shabab, a Somali militant group, has taken credit for the massacre at Westgate. Evidence suggests the attack is a form of protest against the U.S government and Kenya for trying to oust them from their position as the self-proclaimed government of Somalia.
The Shabab are a Somali militant group that stepped in a few years ago to take control of Somalia. However, when they were pushed back by the Kenyan military, they became extraordinarily brutal.
They beheaded and amputated people, and did countless other equally horrible and grisly things. Osama Bin Laden himself said the violence was excessive.
They became monsters, where the people had formerly seen them as stabilizers.
They became desperate to hold onto any shred of power, and yielded no inches. Kenya has been one of the countries that have been spearheading the effort to drive Al-Shabab out from Somalia.
They are a truly ruthless opponent; and Kenya has a big disadvantage. The country has never invested in its public safety as a whole.
Police officers are poorly paid, (somewhere in the ballpark of $200 a month), and most do not have cars. Lots of them are extremely corrupt.
There is no hotline for people that are in trouble to call.
Nevertheless, many flocked to Westgate after the shooting started, some giving their lives to rescue children and people from the mall.
Without the bravery of these officers, the death toll at the Westgate mall would have easily numbered in the hundreds.
One of the most horrible aspects of the attack was that it was tweeted live by the militants.
“The Mujahideen (‘holy warriors’) entered Westgate mall today at around noon and they are still inside the mall, fighting the Kenyan kuffar (‘infidels’) inside their own turf” a Twitter account controlled by Al-Shabab tweeted several hours into the attack.
After a tense three day stand-off, the police finally defeated the last of the extremists. There is some controversy as to whether or not some out the militants escaped or not.
The military had to enter the mall and clear it room by room, to root out the last of the militants.
Throughout all the horror, the blood and tears, and the pain, many, many Kenyans lined up to donate blood for those injured in the terror attack. In fact, so many showed up that they had to be turned away.
This is the kind of camaraderie that Kenya needs to make it through this disaster. IF they band together, maybe they can weather this disaster.