As the gunfight between the Kenyan forces and the Westgate attackers entered into day three, questions lingered on every Kenyan’s mind on just what was their objective in the attack. Several theories were advanced from day one of the attack in an effort to try and explain the demands of the attackers. However, all theories seemed to be pointing to one direction; the al-shabaab was to blame.
Despite the al-shabaab claiming that they were the ones behind the attack; the way the whole terror operation was planned and executed seem to point out too that some established terror group must had been the perpetrators. The al-shabaab also went ahead to release names of the attackers in the mall and revealing their nationalities; information which seemed to tally with the reports from the Kenyan forces flushing them out of the mall.
Whoever they are, the attackers must have done enough homework to map out the whole mall beforehand. The swiftness and exactness with which they entered the mall and started shooting at innocent civilians and guards is enough evidence to that. Knowing the various locations in the mall to hide in and escape from the pursuing Kenyan forces for two days requires substantial amount of time in planning and surveying of the battle field.
The timing, location and the period of time for which the attack was sustained by the attackers are also important factors to consider.
Just as the world was celebrating the world peace day, the attackers launched the assault. What a better way is there for a terror group to shout out their presence to the world than by attacking when least expected!
It was also a weekend when the big rugby tournament the Safaricom 7s was taking place and the city could be full of people all hyped up for fun over the weekend. Again, what better time is it to strike and get maximum attention than when you surprise excited masses with sudden bad news?
And finally, it had to be on a Saturday, a day off for many people to go out and have fun with friends and families. Disrupting their fun moments would inflict to them much pain than just attacking them on a normal working day.
A children’s function was happening at the mall too on the day of the attack. We all know that children and women draw a lot of sympathy from everyone when they get hurt. The attackers may have capitalized on that to attract more attention and for a prolonged time from us the citizens who sympathize with the hurt children and women.
Location was important to the attackers too. They envisioned a global outcry as a result of their attack and so they had to target a place with a convergence of the international community. Westgate provide such a suitable site to strike and harm citizens from many countries and thereby alert the whole world to their attack. It also had to be on a high end market place where the rich and the well-to-do in the society meet to have a little fun and leisure. From their previous attacks on low-end places, attention had not been drawn to them and it was their time to get the attention by touching the “untouchables”.
Still on the location, Westgate provided the large numbers they needed to harm, in order for their mission to be of a great magnitude and attract more attention. Being a business and entertainment center with more than 80 business shops inside, the attackers were assured of a big number to hurt. Also attacking a well-guarded prestigious shopping mall in a fairly secure and high-end business area in the city would be sending a message of how powerful they are. This must had been keenly factored in in their planning stage of the attack.
As to why they sustained the attack for long and used a rather unconventional method to them in attacking, the reasons are obvious in my opinion. The attackers had to inflict pain on people; they wanted to have a head count of the people dead to show the fruits of their attack. They wanted to be known and to be felt so intensively; that just blasting the mall with a bomb and leaving would not had satisfied their quest for attention. They wanted the attention so bad and the only way to make sure they got it was by torturing innocent civilians both physically and psychologically for as long as they could be able to sustain their attack.
Now the attack is behind us and true to their words, our Kenyan forces have delivered yet another victory over terror by neutralizing 6 attackers in the mall. It may have taken longer than most Kenyans would have wished it to, but finally we have the success story in our hands and we remain the united Kenya we should be.
The love shown by Kenyans through their donations of blood and money was overwhelming and will go down to history as one of the signs of the true Kenyan spirit we have. And now as we mourn with the bereaved and console the injured, let’s remember that in Kenya #weareone and terror shall never prevail against us.