The Kenya Forum | 'Dangerous incompetence' NYPD reports on handling of Westgate Mall attack - The Kenya Forum

December 11, 2013


‘Dangerous incompetence’ is how the NYPD reported on the Kenyan police and military’s handling of the Westgate Mall terror attack.

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‘Dangerous incompetence’ NYPD reports on handling of Westgate Mall attack

‘Dangerous incompetence’ NYPD reports on handling of Westgate Mall attack

A shocking report released by the New York Police Department (NYPD) overnight reveals the ‘chaos, confusion and corruption’ that surrounded the attack by Al-Shabaab terrorists on the Westgate Mall in September that left at least 67 people dead.

The study by the NYPD claims that:

  • There were only four terrorist attackers;
  • The attackers probably escaped early on from the Westgate Mall, perhaps only 12 hours after the attack began;
  • The attackers were lightly armed and had no heavy weapons;
  • Some casualties resulted from ‘friendly fire’ between Kenya’s defence forces;
  • ‘Dangerous incompetence’ was shown by Kenya’s military;
  • No hostages were taken;
  • The ‘White Widow’ played no part in the attack;
  • The Kenyan military looted the Westgate Mall.

The study was conducted by the NYPD as an exercise by New York’s law enforcers to learn lessons from the Westgate Mall attack.


The study found that contrary to reports and statements from the Kenyan security services that there were up to 15 armed attackers, carrying heavy weapons, there were in fact only four attackers armed with light weapons and three hand grenades.

The heavy damage done to the Westgate Mall was not caused by the attackers, says the report, but by antitank missiles fired by the Kenyan military.


The ‘gun battle’ that lasted for three days was probably nothing to do with the terrorists after the first 12 hours of the attack. ‘There is no evidence any attacker remained in the mall after 12:15 on September 22’ (the first day of the drama), the NYPD study says.

“It is unknown if the terrorists were killed or escaped the mall” the report states. “A major contributing factor to this uncertainty was the failure to maintain a secure perimeter around the mall”.

The actual attack lasted six hours says the NYPD, after which the attackers hid in a storeroom.


The NYPD also suggest that no hostages were taken by the terrorists, the excuse used by the Kenyan military for the slow progress in clearing the shopping mall. The idea that there may have been hostages is thought to have arisen because some shoppers were “playing dead” and hiding.


‘The most startling component of the report’, according to a media report, ‘is the dangerous incompetence shown by Kenya’s military and police reaction’.

There was poor coordination between the Kenyan police and army which resulted in a police officer being shot dead and the commander of the police team seriously wounded.

The report castigates the Kenyan authorities’ response to the attack. It took up to 90 minutes for a tactical response team to arrive at the Westgate Mall and after that ‘confusion reigned’. Fully armed police entered the mall but they were wearing no identification or markings and were then fired upon by Kenyan soldiers.

The report also suggests that Kenyan military personnel did loot the Westgate Mall.


Later media speculation that Samantha Lewthwaite, ‘the “White widow” was involved in the attack is not supported by any evidence, according to the NYPD.

The explosive report will surely reignite calls for senior military and police officers to face dismissal over the handling of the Westgate Mall attack.


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