The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Israel Warned of Attacks

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THE Israeli Embassy in Nairobi had warned of terror attacks this September targeting its citizens, according to briefs prepared by the National Intelligence Service.

The Westgate shopping mall is partly owned by Israeli citizens including Alex Trajtenberg. The popular Artcaffe on the ground floor where many people died is also Israeli owned.

The NIS forwarded the Israeli warning of potential attacks during the Jewish holidays between September 4 and 28 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and details on September 13.

According to Haaretz newspaper, there were three Israeli citizens inside Westgate last Saturday but they all escaped safely.

It has long been known that Westgate was a potential target for terror attacks.

The NIS briefs circulated to security agencies and the National Security Council indicate that terrorists were targeting Westgate and the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi as early as September last year.

"The following suspected Al Shabaab operatives are in Nairobi and are planning to amount suicide attacks on undiclosed date, targeting Westgate Mall and Holy Family Basilica; Sheikh Abdiwelli Mohamed, Sheikh Husein andd Sheikh Hassan," an NIS brief dated September 21, 2012 stated.

The brief added that the three were believed to be in possession of two suicide vests, 12 hand grenades and two AK 47 rifles and had already surveyed the two targets.

"They are being assisted by Shekh Hassa alias Blackie of Majengo and Omar Ahmed Ali alias Jerry who are currently staying near Mamba Petrol Station and Huruma Mosque along Juja Road," the NIS brief added.

"The envisaged modus operandi include, but is not exclusive to, a Mumbai-attack style, where the operatives storm into a building with gun and grenades and probably hold hostages," said an NIS brief in February 2013.

On September 13, the National Security Council was informed that there were 15 Al-Shabaab Amniyat (Intelligence) operatives were preparing to enter Kenya as refugees.

The NIS brief indicated that an al-Shabaab leader, Mohamed Ade, based in Kenya sent fraudulent refugee documents to the Amniyat.

"The operatives have undergone a Swahili language course and are under the command of Moalin Ali and are to enter Kenya by mid-September," the brief said.

The day before the Westgate attack, the NIS reported that al Shabaab in Mombasa had been mobilised to hunt down NIS official, Nurdin Haji, identified by a local TV station as being behind the killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo and Sheikh Samri Khan.

"During the month of September following a noticeable rise in the level of threat, specific briefs were made to the following National Security Council member; Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury; Cabinet Secretary, Interior; Cabinet Secretary, Foreign Affairs; Cabinet Secretary, Defence and Chief of Defence forces," the 32 page document says.

The brief said there was an increasing threat of terrorism and plans to launch simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa on September 13 and September 20.

On August 26, the NIS prepared a brief indicating that unidentified al Shabaab operatives were planning to attack the Time Tower and Nyayo House on an unspecified date.

"They intend to use fire engines loaded with explosives to carry out the attacks," the brief said.

The brief added that NIS officers had entered the two clubs with concealed pistols and that Times Tower and Nyayo house "could easily be accessed using fake identification documents obtained from River Road".

On June 25, the NIS reported that Al-Shabaab had extended its recruitment across the country including areas such as Maua, Migori, Mumias, Eldoret and Kitale.

In April, the NIS reported increased activity by al Shabaab in Nairobi especially in Majengo Cell whose members were discreetly recruiting and indoctrinating the youth.

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