Kenyans laud 'superman' Kassam, want him honoured

Inayat Kassam in action at the dusitD2 terror attack scene on Tuesday. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]
Inayat Kassam, who braved gunfire at 14 Riverside Drive as he evacuated those trapped inside dusitD2 Hotel, is no stranger to danger.

 Mr Kassam was a knight in shining armour to those he led to safety as high-calibre rifles crackled in the background.

At one point he was heard reassuring a frightened woman that she would be safe. “Today (Tuesday) is not your day. You will not die,” he told her while whisking her away to safety.

Kassam is also not a stranger to Kenyans. He was present during a rescue mission inside the besieged Westgate Mall during a terrorist attack in September 2013.

Working together with other licensed firearm holders, Kassam and his fellow rescuers were instrumental in saving the lives of dozens of civilians.

Following Tuesday’s heroism, Kenyans took to social media and called on the State to honour Kassam with a commendation, through the hashtags #InayatKassam #RiversideAttack.

The firearms instructor, who is not a police officer, was among the first responders after the alarm was raised at the complex housing dusitD2.

According to information available online, he is the managing director of Scorpio Africa Limited. As well as being a shooting instructor, he is a Krav Maga instructor.

According to Wikipedia, Krav Maga is: " is a military self-defence and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, Aikido, judo, and karate, along with realistic fight training". 

During the fifth memorial of the Westgate attack, Kassam told a local media house that his instincts drive him to respond to difficult situations.

Another man who stood out during Tuesday’s attack is Omari Mushiri, a former Kamukunji parliamentary aspirant.

Images of Mr Mushiri taking part in rescue efforts also circulated widely in the media.

Dressed in an unbuttoned blood-stained shirt, he helped drag and carry away survivors from the terror scene.

Desire to help

In an interview, Mushiri said he was not at 14 Riverside Drive when the attack took place but he was driven by a desire to go and help the victims.

As a registered gun holder, he took out his weapon, cocked it and walked towards the complex taking care not to attract gunfire.

“I heard voices calling for help. Some children were shouting ‘mummy’ and thus I forced my way in,” he said.

A police officer who saw him got encouragement and, working together to provide covering fire for each other, they crawled towards the building.

He opened a gate into the building where some victims had been shot and rescued the survivors one by one.

“I pulled a lady who was bleeding and got her outside before I carried her away over my shoulder. That is why my shirt had a lot of blood stains,” he said.

Mushiri bitterly recalled how a man driving a pickup refused to join the rescue operation despite receiving a distress signal.

“Security guards told the motorist to stop the car and help to evacuate the survivors. He took off saying the car had no fuel. How was that possible yet he drove the car away?”

Mushiri said he was inspired by a man who arrived carrying a rope, jumped into a river and threw the rope to the top of the building before using it to climb “like in the movies”.

But he soon found himself in peril, trapped in a tunnel with a police officer as the attackers shot at them. Luckily, he was rescued by recce officers.

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Inayat Kassam14 Riverside Drive