December 11, 2013
On Wednesday, the New York Police Department admitted it had conducted a late night drill at a closed shopping mall in November following the terrorist attack at a mall in Kenya on September 21. Police officials said the undisclosed drill was conducted in order to prevent chaos in the event such an attack occurred in New York.Four lightly armed terrorists in Kenya attack, not 18 heavily armed men as media claimed.
NYPD boss Ray Kelly told the media during a news conference at police headquarters that the exercise was designed to rest the response of police officers. The NYPD boasts of having thwarted more than a dozen terrorist incidents since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Kelly said now “is a time for vigilance and not complacency. The world we are in remains a very dangerous place.”
Details about the police drill held at the Kings Plaza in Brooklyn arrives at the same time as news that the alleged Somali al-Shabab attackers numbered three or four and were not heavily armed as the media claimed during the stand-off at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The New York Police Department report on the siege states that only four terrorists took part in the attack and they were lightly armed with AK-47 rifles. 67 people, mostly civilians, were killed during the attack. The NYPD report concludes that the attackers may have escaped the mall on the first day of the attack. Kenyan police and military conducted a three day siege of the mall.
It was initially claimed that 18 heavily armed gunmen had participated in the raid. “Security sources familiar with the operation to retake the mall said it would have been daunting for even the best-trained soldiers in the world,” The Times reported on September 28. Despite the “bravery of have-a-go heroes,” the newspaper reported, it took hours for a disorganized and under-equipped Kenyan military to respond. Friendly fire resulted in the shooting of a policeman by the military. The military assault resulted in the collapse of several floors of the mall.
The Kenyan government and its intelligence service knew about the al-Shabab attack and had positioned assets at the mall, according to counter-terrorism documents. “We cannot say that this attack comes as a surprise,” said Farah Maalim, former deputy speaker of the Kenyan National Assembly, according to The Guardian. “The possibility of something like this happening, and of failures in the Kenyan intelligence community, has worried us for years. We have an intelligence service more worried about internal party politics than about threats to national security.”NYPD positioned “critical response vehicles’ around New York malls following the Kenya attack in September.
A Harvard trained lawyer who works for the World Bank, Bendita Malakia, claimed she was rescued by an American security team five hours after the assault began. The American’s assertion raised the possibility that American intelligence also knew about the attack beforehand.
Following the attack, counter-terrorism experts warned that an attack of similar magnitude might occur in the United States. “The fear is that if a couple young men returned to the United States with training to conduct military attacks on U.S. citizens, you could take the template of this mall attack that’s happening right now in Kenya and apply it to the U.S.,” Anders Folk, the former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, told the Washington Times in September.
“There possibly could be Americans over there that we don’t know about, and that’s one of my biggest concerns,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told CNN. McCaul said “the idea that they can come back into the United States is a real valid concern.”