Shabaab threatens ‘big surprise’ as siege at Kenyan mall continues


As Shabaab fighters continue to hold out inside the Westgate Mall in Kenya for the fourth day after assaulting the upscale shopping center on Saturday, the al Qaeda group’s media arm on Twitter threatened that a “big surprise” was in store for Kenyans. Shabaab released the following statement on Twitter just minutes ago:

The Kenyan govt and FM haven’t the faintest idea of what’s going on inside #Westgate mall. Rest assured, Kenyans are in for a big surprise!

The group did not detail the nature of the “big surprise” (or it wouldn’t be a surprise), but previous tweets over the past few hours indicate that the members of the assault team are holding their ground, despite claims from Kenyan officials last night that the mall has been secured, and the team still has hostages. Here are two tweets from HSM Press Office, Shabaab’s official Twitter account:

The hostages who were being held by the Mujahideen inside #Westgate are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive

There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen are still holding their ground #Westgate

Given that Shabaab still seems to be holding hostages (estimates are about 60 people are still missing, although some or many may be those who are dead and whose bodies have not been recovered), it is possible that the group may has planted explosives and will detonate them during the Kenyans’ final assault. It is also possible that there may be some form of public execution of the hostages. Or, it is also possible Shabaab is posturing for the media.

Shabaab also released a statement on Twitter today from Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage (Ali Dhere), its official spokesman, which laid out the group’s demands. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Rage said that if the “Kenyan government and those in its orbit … want peacefulness and safety, they should leave our country, and stop their intervention in our affairs, and release our captives, and abandon all forms of fighting against our religion.”

“If you refuse, you saw what happened, and this is just the beginning and some of the punishment. So, wait for dark days, for you will need to wail O enemies of the religion and humanity,” Rage said.

One final point: Shabaab, which is often incorrectly described by some terrorism analysts as a local jihadist group interested only in taking control of Somalia, made clear in another tweet that it is striving to implement a global Islamic Caliphate (Khilaafa):

A new era is on the horizon. A new dawn, illuminating the path towards #Khilaafa. It’s a paradigm shift

While the double suicide attack in Uganda in the summer of 2011 and the group’s oath of allegiance to al Qaeda in early 2012 should have made it painfully clear to said analysts that Shabaab was part of the global jihad, the attack at Westgate is undeniable proof that Shabaab cannot be considered merely a local threat confined to Somalia.


Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Neonmeat says:

    Surely after this we will see the Drone programme expanded with US expertise being lent to the Kenyans? Perhaps some military trainers on the ground?
    It would seem to me by carrying out this attack, and particularly targeting westerners, is like shooting themselves in the foot due to the attention they will garner from foreign military and intelligence?
    If the international community starts to finally take a serious interest in Somalia’s Militant problem I don’t imagine many Militants would survive it. Africa is not a forgiving place, although I guess there are a lot of places to hide.

  • blert says:

    This dirty op may well drive a wedge between London and Washington.
    0bama campaigned during 2007 — out on the stump — for the Muslim candidate.
    Upon his defeat at the polls, the Muslims went on jihad: burning churches and murdering Christians on a grand scale.
    0bama has gone on record as a man who would back the Muslims when push came to shove. (His Kenyan kin are all Muslims.)
    London is sure to want to back the current Kenyan (non-Muslim) administration.
    IIRC, Kenya has been striking oil recently. At a deep remove, this op may be designed to slow or stop oil drilling via a civil war.
    The oil bearing strata appear to be the same that run up through Arabia and off to the Caspian Sea.
    There is some prospect that Kenya could become an oil super power in the next generation. Like Brazil, she had to wait for oceanic drilling and today’s high prices.

  • Bill Baar says:

    I’m surprised 11 were captured. What are we to make of that?

  • Arjuna says:

    @Bill Baar, good question. The press reports are misleading. Eleven supporters who may or may not be linked to the attack were arrested (“captured”) away from the mall. Five hostiles KIA at the mall maybe some more in the rubble. And did the female slip away? I believe the eyewitnesses more than the enemy. SL was there.

  • Arjuna says:

    @Bill Baar, good question. The press reports are misleading. Eleven supporters who may or may not be linked to the attack were arrested (“captured”) away from the mall. Five hostiles KIA at the mall maybe some more in the rubble. And did the female slip away? I believe the eyewitnesses more than the enemy. SL was there.

  • Arjuna says:

    Of the eleven captured, seven were captured at the airport (!) and three elsewhere in Nairobi not sure about No. 11. Reliable reports of two white women amongst the attackers. Where did they go? They planned enough in advance to rent space in the mall for their kit. Supposedly they knew to hole up behind bulletproof glass in a casino, Barclays Bank and the supermarket. Reminds me of In Amenas where they knew all the rooms of the Westerners and attacked the day the home office managers were visiting. The enemy is becoming more and more scrupulous in its planning, what I call the Al Qaeda Effect, eg the prison breaks and recent military base assaults. African countries needs to get even more aggressive on the intel collection and domestic security. America should help with absolutely everything short of battalions of armor and infantry.

  • beatrice says:

    what do they gain for being terrorist and die as well.while there leaders are still somewhere alive and moving on and you as a millitant you are gone.
    what promise are they given after death and killing others?
    Shock on them after death, because they will be received by the devil waiting to roast them properly because they accepted to be lied to.
    Its time for these terror gang to Re-think AND SEE THEY ARE MISLED and to die and be condemned forever in hell.There is nothing like virgin girls and a paradise waiting for you.

  • Reader says:

    I dont believe a word of a ICC candidate or his cronies.

  • Mr T says:

    “Current Kenyan Administration”


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram