Director General of NIS Major General Michael Gichangi in deep thought during a past national ceremony. He is due to appear before a House committee on Monday [PHOTO:COLLINS KWEYU/STANDARD]
By MARTIN MUTUA AND MWANIKI MUNUHE
An unprecedented leak of Intelligence briefings covering the past year paint the picture of a government fully informed of an impending Al Shabaab attack ahead of the Westgate massacre.
The leak, coming days before the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director General Michael Gichangi is grilled by MPs on Monday, appears to draw a line in the sand as accusations are traded over the responsibility for the attack in which at least 67 were killed.
The 8,800-word dossier details terrorist plots and other activities by the militant group, including a direct warning of a terror plot in Nairobi between September 13 and 21.
This is likely to be Gichangi’s line of defence when he appears before the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee. If Gichangi’s assertions cut ice, the tide could turn against other security organs and senior officials who must answer question as to what they did or did not with the Intelligence provided.
At a closed-door meeting of a joint committee of the House that is investigating the matter, the MPs admonished Gichangi for Intelligence gaps and security lapses that allowed terrorists to plan and execute the bloody attack.
Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Ndung’u Gethenji said “it is now time for people to take responsibility and to audit our security system.”
The Intelligence leak claims that a security survey on key installations and shopping malls, including Westgate, essentially assessed their vulnerability to terrorist attacks and the requisite recommendations made.
Reports by NIS are normally shared with Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and his PS Mutea Iringo, Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia (meaning President Uhuru Kenyatta must have been briefed), Inspector General David Kimaiyo and his two deputies and CID boss Ndegwa Muhoro.
NIS submitted a Situation Report dated September 21, 2002 — Serial No.184/2012 — which indicated that at least three suspected terrorists were in Nairobi planning suicide attacks on undisclosed dates.
“The following suspected Al Shabaab operatives are in Nairobi and are planning to mount suicide attacks on undisclosed date, targeting Westgate Mall and Holy Family Basilica; Sheikh Abdiwelli Mohamed, Sheikh Hussein and Sheikh Hassan. They are believed to be in possession of two suicide vests, twelve (12) hand grenades and two (2) AK47 rifles, and have already surveyed the two targets.”
“They are being assisted by Sheikh Hassan 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 report said.
The same report indicated that two suspected Al Shabaab terrorists of Somali origin had entered South Sudan through Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan and were suspected to be in Uganda on transit to Kenya through either Busia or Malaba border points. The two were allegedly being assisted by Teskalem Teklemaryan, an Eritrean engineer who lives in Uganda and South Sudan.
The Intelligence report further advised that the duo had purchased one GPMG, four hand-grenades, one bullet belt, five AK 47 guns and unknown number of bulletproof jackets from Joseph Lomoro, an SPLA officer, and some maps of Nairobi.
The report further disclosed that one Maalim Khalid (also known as Maalim Kenya), a Kenyan explosives and martial arts expert, had been identified as the architect of current terrorist attacks in the country. Khalid, the report indicated, is associated with attacks at Machakos Country Bus, Assanands House in Nairobi and Bellavista Club in Mombasa.