British hero of the mall massacre: Ex Royal Marine with a handgun saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok
UK Daily Mail
24 Sept 2013
A former marine emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.
The ex soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday.
With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.
His story emerged as sporadic gunfire continued to ring out from inside the mall early today as Kenyan security forces battled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists into a fourth day.
Despite Kenyan police assurances that they had taken control of the building, a security expert with contacts inside the mall said at least 10 hostages were still being held by a band of attackers, possibly as many as 13.
he former soldier is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.
A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.
‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’
Sources said the soldier was in the Royal Marine and now lives in Kenyan (sic). He cannot be named for security reasons.
The British military regularly train and operate out of Kenya, and have been involved in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.
Former members work with both the UK and Kenyan governments and security firms across East Africa.
Horrific: It was reported that a woman had been sexually abused at gunpoint in front of young hostages ... miltants reportedly burnt the faces of their victims and cut off their hands to prevent them being identified
Early today, sporadic gunfire rang out from inside the mall as Kenyan security forces battled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists into a fourth day in what they said was a final push to rescue the last few hostages in a siege that has left more than 60 people dead.
'Taken control of all the floors. We're not here to feed the attackers with pastries but to finish and punish them,' Kenyan police Inspector General David Kimaiyo said on Twitter.
Despite Kenyan government assurances of success, an explosion and gunfire could be heard coming from the mall at around 6.30am, followed by the sustained chatter of automatic weapons for about a minute almost three hours later, according to Associated Press reporters at the scene.
Security forces carried a body out of the mall, which remained on fire, with flames and smoke visible.
A Kenyan soldier wearing bomb disposal protective gear also exited the building.
While the government announced Sunday that 'most' hostages had been released, a security expert with contacts inside the mall said at least 10 were still being held by a band of attackers, described as 'a multinational collection from all over the world.'
Somalia's rebel group Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, posted an audio message on a pro-militant website late Monday that they were still in control of the building.
'Despite botched attempts by the Jews and Christians to recapture the mall today, the mujahideen are still in control of the Westgate,' al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in the message.
'The upper hand still remains theirs,' he said.
Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed said up to three Americans and one British person were among those who attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Britain's foreign office said it was aware of the foreign minister's remarks, but would not confirm if a British woman was involved.
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said there had been six British deaths and the number could rise.
The attacker from Britain was a woman who has 'done this many times before,' Mohamed said which lends weight to speculation that the so-called 'White Widow', Samantha Lewhwaite may have taken part in the raid.
U.S. officials said they were looking into whether any Americans were involved. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that the department had 'no definitive evidence of the nationalities or the identities' of the attackers.
The security expert, who insisted on anonymity to talk freely about the situation, said many hostages had been freed or escaped in the previous 24-36 hours, including some who were in hiding.
However, there were at least 30 hostages when the assault by al-Shabab militants began Saturday, he said, and 'it's clear' that Kenyan security officials 'haven't cleared the building fully.'
Kenyan government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the country's president would make an address to the nation later in the day but said he could give no immediate details on the operation.
Flames and dark plumes of smoke rose Monday above the Westgate shopping complex for more than an hour after four large explosions rocked the surrounding neighborhood.
The smoke was pouring through a large skylight inside the mall's main department and grocery store, where mattresses and other flammable goods appeared to have been set on fire, a person with knowledge of the rescue operation told The Associated Press.
The explosions were followed by volleys of gunfire as police helicopters and a military jet circled overhead, giving the neighborhood the feel of a war zone. An armored personnel carrier sat in front of the building.
By Monday evening, Kenyan security officials said they had claimed the upper hand.
Kenya's Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the evacuation of hostages had gone 'very, very well' and that Kenyan officials were 'very certain' that few if any hostages were left in the building.
But with the mall cordoned off and under heavy security it was not possible to independently verify the assertions.
Similar claims of a quick resolution were made by Kenyan officials on Sunday and the siege continued.
Authorities have also not provided any details on how many hostages were freed or how many still remain captive.
Three attackers were killed in the fighting Monday, Kenyan authorities said, and more than 10 suspects arrested. Eleven Kenyan soldiers were wounded in the running gun battles.
An Al Shabaab spokesman, Rage, said in the audio file that the attackers had been ordered to 'take punitive action against the hostages' if force was used to try to rescue them.
A Western security official in Nairobi who insisted on not being named to share information about the rescue operation said the only reason the siege hadn't yet ended would be because hostages were still inside.
Westgate mall, a vast complex with multiple banks that have secure vaults and bulletproof glass partitions, as well as a casino, is difficult to take, the official said.
'They are not made for storming,' he said of the labyrinth of shops, restaurants and offices. 'They're made to be unstormable.'
The massacre began on Saturday shortly before midday local time.
Witnesses told how terrorists with faces hidden by Islamic scarves stormed the building, tossing grenades and spraying shoppers with AK-47s.
Yesterday pictures emerged online that appeared to show the moment gunmen entered the shopping centre, pointing their weapons at terrified civilians.
The killers, who were dressed in Western clothes, ordered all Muslims to leave, before carrying out rudimentary tests to see if hostages could recite the Koran and name the mother of the Prophet Mohammed.
One security officer said the mall had been turned into ‘an abattoir’ within half an hour, as gunmen went on the rampage.
Militants have reportedly burned their victims’ faces and removed their hands in an attempt to conceal their identities; the bodies were piled against the main door to slow the progress of rescue teams.
Yesterday reports emerged online that an injured woman trapped inside had been sexually abused at gunpoint in front of young hostages.
It is believed that she has been shot in the shoulder, while her child has been killed.
Details of the incident were posted hundreds of times on Facebook
The woman is said to have been able to speak several times with her husband, who is outside the shopping centre – but last night he had heard nothing from her for several hours.
Another witness, Kamille Kaur, was with several dozen children for a cookery competition on the mall’s second floor when the attack began.
Her son, 12, and daughter, 8, were injured as gunmen opened fire. She said adults ‘were like animals, climbing over the children to get out’.
A Twitter account representing Al Shabaab, the group claiming responsibility for the attack, said it was carried out by terrorists from seven nations, including Britain, the US and Canada.
The group has recently split into two factions following bloody infighting.
Those not involved in the Nairobi attack are said to be spreading false information, raising questions over the veracity of initial reports that Londoners Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, and Liban Adam, 23, are among the gunmen.
Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi, said fighters from several countries had participated in the attack, but would not specify which ones.
‘We have an idea who they are, their nationality and even the number,’ he said, adding that the militants were ‘clearly a multinational collection from all over the world’.
‘We have also have an idea that this is not a local event,’ he said. ‘We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient [intelligence] to suggest that.’
At least three of the terrorists were killed, he added, after Kenyan forces moved into the five-storey complex, which was filled with some 1,200 people when it was stormed by three heavily armed groups on Saturday.
Kenyans were last night bracing themselves for further terror attacks after it was claimed dozens more militants from the organisation had bribed their way into the country.
A spokesman for Al Shabaab said all Britons in Kenya are ‘legitimate’ targets because the UK has supported the African country’s military intervention in neighbouring Somalia.
Yesterday David Cameron returned early from Balmoral, where he had been staying with the Queen, to chair an emergency Cobra meeting with Cabinet colleagues including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor George Osborne and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.
FROM PERU TO INDIA, THE MALL VICTIMS CAME FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE
Architect Ross Langdon worked in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, creating eco-lodges and socially sustainable tourism in ecologically sensitive locations.
He said at a conference last year that he thought trying to adapt to one's environment was a better way to express respect for the communities in which he was working.
'I thought it might be better to be like a chameleon - able to adapt and change and blend with our environment rather than conquer it,' he said.
British media reported he was a dual national, though the Foreign Office did
not identify British victims by name.
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said six British deaths occurred and the number could rise.
They include Zahira Bawa and her 8-year-old daughter Jenah, from Leamington Spa in central England, a relative told Britain's Press Association news agency.
Annemarie Desloges, a border services liaison officer in Canada's High Commission to Kenya, 'was one of our bright young lights, and hers was a career brimming with promise,' said Tim Edwards, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers.
She was a 29-year-old from a 'foreign service family' and had accompanied her parents on overseas postings before deciding to follow in their footsteps in 2006.
Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji also died in the attack, a daughter and niece confirmed to various media.
Two sisters from Toronto, 17-year-old Fardosa Abdi and 16-year-old Dheeman Abdi, were seriously injured.
Their aunt Hodan Hassan said from her home in Minnesota that Fardosa was in
critical condition with severe leg injuries.
A 38-year-old Chinese woman with the surname Zhou who worked in the real estate industry was killed, state media said. Her son was injured in the attack and was in stable condition in a hospital, according to the Chinese Embassy in Kenya.
Two French women were killed, President Francois Hollande said.
Kofi Awoonor was a Ghanaian poet, professor and former ambassador to Brazil, Cuba and the United Nations. Ghana's ministry of information said Awoonor's son was injured and is responding to treatment.
Awoonor's work drew its inspiration from the traditions of his native Ewe tribe. Ghana's poetry foundation said on its website that Awoonor went into exile after Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was driven out in a coup in 1966.
He studied at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his dissertation
was published in 1975. He returned to Ghana and was later jailed for alleged
involvement coup plot. His time in prison was recounted in The House by the
Sea (1978), the foundation said.
Three Indians were killed in the attack, including an 8-year-old boy, Paramshu Jain, whose father is manager of a Nairobi branch of an Indian bank. The child's mother, Mukta Jain, is among four Indians who were injured.
The others confirmed dead by the Indian External Affairs Ministry are Sridhar Natarajan, a 40-year-old from India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, and Sudharshan B. Nagaraj, of the southern city of Bangalore.
Ruhila Adatia-Sood was a popular radio and TV personality in Kenya and her husband worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Nairobi. She was expecting a child.
Mitul Shah was president of the Bidco United football team in Kenya, Football Kenya spokesman John Kaniuki said. Shah worked for the Bidco cooking oil company and was reportedly attending a promotional cooking event with children at the mall.
President Uhuru Kenyatta's nephew and nephew's fiancee were also among the
Elif Yavuz was a senior vaccines researcher for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, according to a statement from the Clinton family. 'Elif was brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues, who will miss her terribly,' the Clintons said.
She had completed her dissertation research on malaria in eastern Africa and
graduated this year from Harvard University's Department of Global Health and
Population, the school said.
Yavuz, 33, was Langdon's partner and was expecting their first child in early October.
Andrew McLaren, 34, a New Zealander who managed a factory in Kenya for the avocado oil company Olivado, was wounded in the attack, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed. He was hospitalized in stable condition.
Juan Ortiz-Iruri was a retired tropical disease specialist for UNICEF who had lived for 25 years in Africa, according to UNICEF and Peruvian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alejandro Neyra.
His son, Ricardo Ortiz, told Radio RPP that Ortiz-Iruri entered the mall accompanied
by his daughter, a 13-year-old born in the U.S. She suffered a hand injury,
but is out of danger.
One South African citizen was killed, according to the country's International Relations Department.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said one South Korean woman was among the dead. It provided no further details.
One Swiss citizen was injured, but the embassy would not provide further the victim's name.
Five American citizens were injured, U.S. officials said.