Al-Shabaab Reveals Names of Fighters Behind Kenya Luxury Hotel Attack


NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) – Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabaab revealed names of its fighters behind the 2019 DusitD2 complex attack that occurred from 15 to 16 January 2019 in the westlands area of Nairobi, Kenya, which left at least 25 people dead.

A video released by the group’s media on Saturday showed five of their fighters dining at an undisclosed safe house in Kenya and watching a speech by the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, before carrying out the deadly hotel siege.

It identified the men behind upscale hotel attack as Ali Salim Gichunge, Osman Ahmed, Mahir Khalid, Muhammad Adan and Abdulqani Arab, who all appeared in a short video that could be watched for minutes.

The attack occurred at the 14 Riverside Drive complex in Westlands, an upscale hotel and office complex in Kenya’s capital, which hosts the DusitD2 Hotel and the Commission on Revenue Allocation. Other clients of the complex, amongst others, include: Adam Smith International, Amadeus IT Group, LG Electronics, I & M bank, JHPiego, SAP East Africa and Cellulant Kenya Ltd.

The attackers were seen driving to the 14 Riverside Drive complex moments before the attack began at 14:30 on 15 January 2019 that was concluded at 10:00 the following day.

Photo of a Jewish-American citizen from Texas, who had purportedly been killed in the assault, has been displayed in the Al-Shabaab video. He was among a number of western nationals killed in the upscale hotel.

Three of the fighters shown in the footage were Kenyans and two were Somalis, who appeared in the Al-Shabaab released video wearing uniforms.

Al-Shabaab said the attack was one of a series of operations part of the campaign “O Aqsa we are coming” and was carried out by members of its Saleh Nabhan commando brigade.

Leader of those behind the hotel complex Ali Salim Gichungue was from Kikuyu, the tribe of Kenya’s incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Questions have been raised over the capability of Kenya’s security services in tackling Islamist threatens and preventing deadly attacks, immediately after the video circulated on social media.

The Al-Qaeda franchise that continues to spread its influence in Kenya after securing control of large swathes of territory in Somalia, launched a number of deadly attacks in Nairobi and beyond since Kenya’s troop incursion into Somalia in 2011.

Two years after Kenyan troops had crossed over the border into Somalia, the militant group executed the West Gate Shopping Mall attack in 2013 that left over 71 people dead and nearly 200 wounded, while dozens have remained unaccounted for.

In 2015, gunmen stormed the Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya, killing over 148 people and injuring more than 79. Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda offshoot group took responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest in Kenya since the 1998 United States embassy bombings.

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