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Were Wesgate terror suspects really killed or did they escape?

candles
Originally published in the Standard on Sunday September 21 2014.
One week after the Westgate attack, the military went on record to give details of what was widely believed to have been the identities of the mall attackers. There was Abu Baara-al Sudani, Sudan-trained and an Al Qaeda member, also the leader of the four.
Also identified was Omar Rabhan, a Kenyan of Arab origin born in Mombasa who had travelled to Somalia with his uncle at the aged of 16. The third was Khatab al-Kene, a Somali native from Mogadishu with strong links to the Al Shabaab and finally, rather scantily, Umayr al-Mogadish. Other than the names, no information other than what was retrieved from CCTV footage, exist of the attackers.
In the aftermath of the massacre, little is known of their existence before and after the attack. “We are sure they were killed as they made their final stand and the government has sent DNA samples to Israel and the US for analysis and confirmation,“ Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku said. However, it remains unclear whether the terrorists really did die as they made their ‚last stand‘ or escaped the force of the combined assault by the country‘s security teams.
Almost seven hours after their assault, CCTV footage from within the mall shows all four terrorists in a store room at the back of Nakumatt Supermarket. See also: It’s a shame Kenyans remain as ill-prepared for disaster as ever “During the several hours that the terrorists are in the store they appear extremely relaxed…they eat and pray…and at an unknown time, one of the terrorists is observed leaving the storage room in the direction of the exit to Nakumatt‘s loading dock.
Authorities believe he was checking for a means of escape. This terrorist does not re-appear for the remainder of any of the CCTV footage,“ reads an assessment report by the New York Police Department which was assisting Kenyan authorities in their investigations. The mystery of the attackers deepens. “There have been no confirmations on the death of the terrorists.
Amidst the perceived truths, half-truths and non-truths regarding the attackers who killed 67 people, the only enduring fact is that one year after the attacks, little remains known of the four men aged between 16 and 23 years.
 
 The only thing that the State is apparently banking on is results of a DNA sample. What if the samples come back negative? What will the narrative be then,“ asks security analyst George Musamali. Researchers believe that DNA extraction should not take more than a week to process.
“In highly evolved societies, a day is enough for the extraction of samples and analysis to be done. But the catch in such situations is this, there is a need for pre-existing data—dental records, previous blood samples—that the newly-extracted sample will be compared to. The absence of these records might mean you have a pretty useless sample,“ Nairobi-based researcher Patrick Okanya told The Standard on Sunday.
In a region where medical records are scanty to come by, it is almost impossible to see to how the DNA tests on the alleged terrorists‘ remains will be of help.
“Particularly since the Government already has their names, maybe it will be the final confirmation of the deaths,“ Musamali says.
One year later, the movements of the terrorists after the closed circuit cameras were disabled remains unknown. All that is known is the names, and partial images of the attackers. The NYPD report concludes that the four young men were aware of the presence of the CCTV cameras located in the mall and made deliberate attempts to avoid being fully captured.
“One would wonder why individuals on a suicide mission, ready to stage their last stand would hide from these cameras. The last thing an individual on such a mission would want is protecting his privacy. It would make little difference if his face were seen or not,“ argues psychologist Alice Okello.
The psychologist also says the announcement of needing DNA verification may also have been used as a stalling tactic to temporarily satisfy the queries that were being directed at the Government.
Amidst the perceived truths, half-truths and non-truths regarding the attackers who killed 67 people, the only enduring fact is that one year after the attacks, little remains known of the four men aged between 16 and 23 years.

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