Jamal Osman, a Somali-born reporter for Channel 4 News in the UK says that his sources say that “some or most” of the attackers in this weekend’s attack on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi are “Western passport holders”.
Channel 4 News reports: Striking at the heart of the capital city and a symbolic place, it is designed to have the maximum effect on the locals.
Kenyans who have generally enjoyed peace will find it hard to go about their daily lives, for some time to come.
It is also going to have an impact on the nation’s economy, a country that prides itself of being a regional hub.
Foreign companies invest in every sector. Tourism makes huge contribution to the local economy.
Many aid organisations including the UN are based there. This attack is likely to scare off foreign tourists, investors and international aid workers.
The al-Qaeda-linked group, which still controls large parts of southern and central Somalia, has been under pressure in the last three years.
A coalition of forces from several African nations, supporting a weak Somali government, is fighting to defeat the militants.
Kenya is part of the alliance that pushed the Islamist from the main cities and its forces captured Kismayo from the group in 2011.
For the Islamists, losing Kismayo was very difficult to swallow.
The port city, third largest in the country, was a strategic place and it generated an enormous source of income.
Therefore, they chose their target and planned the assault carefully. Westgate shopping mall was the perfect place for them.
The centre is popular with westerners, wealthy Kenyans and Somali politicians.
All of them targets for al-Shabaab. More so, it is reportedly owned by Israelis.
Targeting Israeli interests will win al-Shabaab supporters amongst the jihadi community and some in the Arab world.