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Westgate Shopping Mall Terrorist Attack

Nairobi, Kenya

The Attack

The attack began on Saturday, September 21, 2013. The attack occurred in the high-profile shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Four men who had been trained for the attack used automatic weapons and grenades to fire at shoppers, cars, and cause destruction (Elbagir). Other terrorists, believed to be another group of four, smashed their car into the structure and joined in the chaos and killing. Due to faults in response and jurisdiction from the authorities, the militants were able to regroup and rearm after the initial attack. They had stockpiled weapons in the mall before the attack and had enough ammunition to last them for days (Howden). The terrorists set up control stations in cars that had been previously parked at the mall, and in the lack of resistance from the authorities, they began to scour the mall for people who had not yet escaped (Howden).

The Attack The attackers called out for Muslim people to come forward, and
they were saved from death. In total, more than 67 people were killed, and the attack lasted over 80 hours (Elbagir). The gunmen executed men, women, children, injured, and disabled people alike. They had no sense of shame, and denied any guilt in court. After the attack, up to 15 gunmen were found to be involved either in aiding in the plan or directly aiding in the massacre. During the attack, at least four of the gunmen were trapped under rubble from the collapse of part of the mall along with numerous citizens (Howden). Four of them died in the attack, and familes from all over the world were affected by the terrorism that took place in the mall. The attack turned quickly into a battle between the militants and the authorities, but the authorities ultimately won after they organized themselves and worked together to triumph over the terrorist. By then, however, many had already lost their

Who Committed the Attack
The Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the four-day attack on the mall. Two of the attackers who were brought to court had Kenyan identification cards and citizenship papers, but the other two were believed to be from Somalia (France-Presse). However, their identities were not released. The two known names are Mohammed Abdinur Said and Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow. The four captured attackers are understood to have trained together in Somalia before the attack, and authorities suspected the four bodies destroyed by the fallen rubble trained alongside of them (Elbagir).

Al-Shabaab claimed the attack was a warning to Kenya to pull its troops out of Southern Somalia. The Kenyan troops were fighting the extremists in Somalia as part of an African Union force that hoped to stabilize the Somali government (France-Presse). AlQaeda wanted Kenya to remove their troops because they were aiding the extremist movement and wanted it to continue gaining strength. When the Kenyan troops were starting to hinder the movement, al Qaeda and al Shabaab joined together to try and force the government to remove them (Howden).

Motivation for the Attack

Results of the Attack
After the attack, citizens lost faith in the authorities because of the time it took them to organize. In addition, shopkeepers and store owners returned to find that places to which only authorities had access had been looted (IBTimes Staff Reporter). The surviving gunmen were found guilty of terrorism. Work towards rebuilding the mall and the many shattered trusts and lives of citizens commenced shortly after the attack concluded. Government officials began to reorganize authorities to make them more effective and quick in response to such an attack (France-Presse). The economy also felt the aftermath of the attack when it endangered foreign investment which contributes to about $382.3 million of their budget. In addition the attack may discourage tourism, an industry that contributes to about 12% of their GDP and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs (IBTimes Staff Reporter).

Results of the Attack
Ultimately, analysts do not see the attack as a long-term threat to the economy, but it signifies broader tensions between the haves and the have-nots in the region (IBTimes Staff Reporter). The attack, however, did bolster Kenyan and African solidarity, and it helped to slightly diminish the ethnic divisions that have plagued Kenyan democracy for decades (Howden). The attack, on the other hand, deepened religious divisions, which may lead to further conflict within the country.

Response to Attack
In response to the attack, the U.S. Navy SEALS sought to capture Mohamed Abdikardir Mohamed, who is said to be one of the most dangerous al-Shabaab commanders (IBTimes Staff Reporter). However, they were unsuccessful in their pursuit. Attempts to tighten control on terrorist groups heightened after the attack, and the battle to bring down al Qaeda and alShabaab continue. The Nairobi administration continually tries to maintain the peace and unity among the citizens after the attack, and securing the city and dealing with all the damages, both physically and mentally, will weigh on the Kenyan administrations for months and years to come (Howden).

Work Cited
Elbagir, Nima. "Kenya Mall Attack: Four Accused of Having Role in Bloody Siege." CNN. Cable News Network, 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. France-Presse, Agence. "Kenya’s Westgate Mall Attackers Spent Four Month’s Planning in Nairobi." The Raw Story | America's #1 Completely Independent News and Politics Source . Raw Story Media, Inc., 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <>. Howden, Daniel. "Terror in Westgate Mall: The Full Story of the Attacks That Devastated Kenya." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 4 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <>. IBTimes Staff Reporter. "Ripple Effects Of A Terrorist Attack: After Westgate, Kenya And The World Face Changing Times." International Business Times - International Business News, Financial News, Market News, Politics, Forex, Commodities. IBT Media, INC., 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <>.