Sept. 24: Kenya’s security forces seem to have been ill-prepared for a complex hostage situation against die-hard militants like this.
According to several western officials, the Kenyans initially rebuffed offers of assistance from the American government and turned instead to the Israelis, who dispatched advisers from the Israeli defence forces. Those advisers have been working closely with the Kenyan commandos inside the mall, helping plan specific tactical operations, though officials said the Israeli advisers had not engaged in any combat and had stayed out of public view. The American, French and British officials have been left with a more back-seat role from a command centre just down the street from the Westgate mall, helping the Kenyans with the investigation of the attack and some intelligence matters, a high-ranking Kenyan official said yesterday.
“There’s too much consultation going on,” said the Kenyan official, who was not authorised to speak publicly. “This should have been a small rescue operation, not preparing for war.”
Several witnesses said that some of the ringleaders of the assault — in which masked gunmen moved methodically through the crowded mall on Saturday, killing men, women and children — may have escaped during the initial confusion. One witness said that an assailant quickly tore off his clothes and changed into a new outfit before running out, hands raised, blending in with a crowd of fleeing civilians.