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Police reveal how Al Shabaab men planned, executed Westgate attack

By Cyrus Ombati | Published Thu, March 19th 2015 at 00:00, Updated March 20th 2015 at 11:42 GMT +3

NAIROBI: The Al-Shabaab militant Adan Dheq alias Garaar who was killed in a US drone attack in Bardhere, Somalia last week was in Nairobi in September 2013 to plan the Westgate Mall attack.

A profile released by police and National Intelligence Service show Gaarar, a Somali national, was the one who bought a Mitsubishi salon car registration number KAS 575X that was seized in front of the mall after the attack.

The car had explosives and weapons at the time of its recovery, almost a week after the attack.

He and his accomplices paid Sh340,000 to get the car on September 6, 2013 from a mechanic in Eastlands.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said Garaar alongside two other militants were killed on March 12 in a US drone attack.

According to the latest police confidential report, Garar, his accomplice Abdikadir Mohamed alias Mohamed Hussein from Kenya and the seller walked into Barclays Bank Queensway Branch in Nairobi and transacted the business before leaving. CCTV cameras at the bank captured their movements.

The original owner of the car was a female staff of United Nations in Nairobi who sold it to another staff of International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) in Nairobi.

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The ICRAF staff gave it to his brother to help in getting a buyer. Kimaiyo said the brother took the car to a garage in Buruburu and put it on sale.

On September 6, 2013, Mohamed and Garaar approached the mechanic at the garage and said they were ready to buy the car.

According to police, the mechanic called the owner and informed him there were buyers who were ready to pay in cash. When the owner arrived, he insisted they do the transaction in a bank. They drove to Barclays in the evening and transacted the business.

Investigations have shown they later paid for an insurance cover in Nairobi using fictitious names.

After the attack on September 21, 2013, Kenyan police offered a ransom of Sh500,000 to anyone who could help them trace Garaar and Mohamed.

According to police, Mohamed evaded an arrest at a bus stop in Nairobi as he escorted his wife to board a bus to Mombasa, a week after the Westgate attack, following a tip-off.

 KENYAN ID

On the day of the attack, Garaar drove from Nairobi to Mandera and sneaked back into Somalia, from where he was in constant communication with the attackers during the siege.

Police have also since linked him to the last December’s killing of 64 people in Mandera by Al-Shabaab.

“Garaar, using the facilitation network that included Salim Abubakr Kitonga (the terror suspect involved in the massacre of the 64, who was arrested in January, 2015 and is facing trial) and another member of Al-Shabaab Ladhan Hokitu (who was based in Mandera), was able to bring in weapons and material support for the Westgate attack.”

According to the police report, Garaar had sneaked into Kenya in 2012 to illegally acquire a Kenyan identification in Garissa. “Garaar was at the time assisted by a member of Al-Shabaab sleeper-cell in Garissa, one Abdqadir Ahmed Buul. Buul was later to be involved in the Kariobangi matatu attack of 2013,” says the report.

Prior to the Westgate attack, Garaar had quietly facilitated low-level attacks in Kenya and Uganda.

According to police, the slain terror suspect was a certified psychopath known for extreme fits of anger, which would often see him shoot haphazardly whenever he flew into tantrums.

“Garaar did not fit in the natural mold of a regular Al-Shabaab operative, as he did not fight in the ‘jabha’ (front line) neither did he hold any specific title in the group until after Westgate attack when he was made a unit leader or commander.”

Before then, he was a gun-for-hire used by Al-Shabaab as a facilitator because of his ability to move people, weapons and explosives into Kenya successfully.

According to the report, Garaar was instrumental in facilitating the movement of vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) from Somalia into Kenya.

He used a network of individuals who included a lady, Ladhan Hokitu and Abdiaziz Abdullahi Abdi.

Hokitu, who is currently in custody in Somalia, was responsible for acquiring registered sim cards for the operatives while Abdiaziz together with another accomplice, Issak Noor Ibrahim, were in charge of the vehicle and its deadly cargo. They was arrested in March last year in one of the most-successful sting operation by Kenya’s anti-terror security agencies.


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