Archive | October 2013

Nairobi Mall Attack: Sleuths Go ‘Tweet’ in Pursuit of Insider

1000Image

[CAPTION]: Forensic investigators working on this picture (courtesy Al-Shabab on Twitter) and CCTV footage from the KDF (link below) suggest insider involvement that could unmask the face of Westgate Mall attack.

Argwings Odera

Forensic experts are now investigating whether an insider within the security agencies may have been involved in Westgate Mall tragedy in Nairobi on September 21.

“We are chasing clues on Twitter… we are looking at this picture (above),” said the expert. “We are into much less digging and into more lab work, computers and stuff. Right now our computer section is doing a lot of work, even though Twitter is yet to respond to our official request for support.”

An alleged Twitter account from Al-Shabab released the picture in the early morning of September 23, almost 48 hours after mowing down hapless victims caught up in the mayhem that Saturday noon.

While releasing the image (above) that has captivated forensic investigators, the alleged Al Shabab gloated in an account @HSM_PressOffice (now established to be a fake Al-Shabab Twitter account that was broadcasting from within the doomed mall) over their exploits. The account had been set up that vey same day.

It gloated: “ a 14-hour standoff relayed in 1400 rounds of bullets and 140 characters of vengeance and still ongoing. Good morning Kenya! It’s slowly approaching the 24-hour mark – the darkest 24 hours in Nairobi – highlighting the sheer fragility of the Kenyan nation. The Mujahideen are still firmly in control of the situation inside Westgate Mall. Negotiation is out of the question!”

The forensic investigator doubts this message was from Al-Shabab, given their knowledge of the organisation and its communication techniques.

The forensic team are studying the Al-Shabab picture, along with the statements: “a 14-hour standoff relayed in 1400 rounds of bullets and 140 characters … It’s slowly approaching the 24-hour mark – the darkest 24 hours in Nairobi.”

The forensic investigator says: “This was a coded message, the giveaway being 14, 14, 14 and 24, 24 and the words ‘darkest hour’ in Nairobi.

“The unofficial decoding is: “The number fourteen is repeated three times, the number 1 also three times, the number ‘4’ three times and ‘0’ three times and we know three floors went down inside the mall. The second set of numbers could read September 24 after midnight (24-hrs) and evacuate by 3 am (Nairobi’s darkest hour).”

Highlighting the picture on his laptop computer again, the forensic investigator picks out the difference in the picture, and a copy of CCTV footage handed over by the KDF.

“Stop … stop! Here, go a little back … there, play now; pause … you see,” he points out at a frozen frame from the CCTV footage.

We are on Cam2 13/09/21 13:07:02DVR [courtesy CNN] : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOq6owl8k4M ]

The date is September 21, 2013 on Cam 2 and the time is around lunchtime in Nairobi, seven minutes-and-two seconds past 1pm, freeze the KDF CCTV footage at that precise point and compare it with the picture above.

The screen-shot from the CCTV footage provided to forensics by KDF, at this point, is the exact match, angle, lighting and calibration to the screenshot that Al-Shabab allegedly released to show that their fighters were still in control of the reign of terror.

“This [picture] was not [taken by] Al-Shabab,” insists the forensic expert.

The expert argues the photo was a screenshot less than an hour after the shooters walked in. Yet it was released two days later to shock the nation into waiting until KDF completed its “mop up operation”.

“Ask yourself, if KDF was in charge of the floors, including the CCTV room, how did the terrorists (attackers) regain control of the CCTV room, download the clips, upload them on a computer, rewind an old clip, play, freeze, capture screen-shot and Tweet,” the expert questions.

Indeed asking myself, to find answers to pertinent questions, one must look back.

None was helpful, not even Foreign Secretary Amina Mohammed, who brazenly told a global audience on Monday, 23 September, the attackers were Americans from Minnesota, Britons, Canadians, Finnish and Samantha Lefthwaithe.

Hot in the heels of her statement, another tweet from the fake Al-Shabab account was announced by CNN and reiterated word for word what Amina had said: “three of the attackers are from the United States, two are from Somalia and there is one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom.”

It was not Al-Shabab tweeting, but somebody else inside Westgate with the KDF. Al-Shabab were not happy with this. Their account was already shut and someone else was posting terror tweets using their name. Al-Shabab resorted to e-mail denouncing the tweets about Westgate saying “Until recently our account was @HSMPROffice and that has been suspended and we do not currently have any other active account.”

Drawing wrath on another fake account purporting to be Al-Shabab, the Somali militants wondered why that account had never been shut since 1 March when it was first set up, according to the complaints they made via email.

The forensic experts have promised to share more information as it emerges.

UN Secretary-General Regrets Killing of a Journalist in Mogadishu

 

PRESS STATEMENT 

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Regrets Killing of a Journalist in Mogadishu 

Mogadishu, 27 October 2013 – The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has learnt with deep sorrow of the death of Mohamed Mohamud Tima’adde, a reporter with Universal TV, on the evening of 26 October.

Mohamed succumbed to injuries he sustained on 22 October, when he was ambushed and shot several times in Mogadishu’s Wadajir district by unknown assailants who managed to escape.

He becomes the seventh journalist to be murdered in 2013; Somalia continues to be one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism in the world. 

SRSG Kay noted that the media had a crucial role to play in fostering peace and stability in Somalia, and stressed the need to protect journalists and press freedom in the country.

“My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mohamed Mohamud Tima’adde, and to all media practitioners in Somalia,” SRSG Kay said.  “UNSOM continues to work with the Federal Government of Somalia to strengthen the security and justice sectors in order to ensure that the streets of Somalia are safer and violent criminals are brought to justice.” 

Get updates from UNSOM: 
www.unsom.unmissions.org 
@UNSomalia 
www.facebook.com/UNSomalia 
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WESTGATE TERROR: THIS PICTURE SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDS

THIS PICTURE SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDS

Inspector General of Kenya Police David Kimaiyo, look at this picture again. Do you see any single word? Now, when I write these thousand words, will I be unpatriotic deserving of the maximum judicial sentence, death for treason, the opposite of “unpatriotic”? Do you care to find a clue in my work, in this picture; for this is my job, my bread, that which has shaped my life and the lives of others; built houses, supported education, the elderly, children, bought cars, indulgence, cure, journeys, I could go on. My readers trust in me that they can get accurate information, just that, information. Look at this picture again. Coming up shortly, the thousand spoken words this picture tells.

HARASSMENT OF MEDIA IN THE WAKE OF THE WESTGATE TERRORIST ATTACK

KENYA EDITORS’ GUILD STATEMENT ON HARASSMENT OF MEDIA IN THE WAKE OF THE WESTGATE TERRORIST ATTACK

The Kenya Editors’ Guild is shocked and dismayed by threats directed against the media from the Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo in relation to the coverage of the Westgate terrorist attack.

The police chief is threatening to arrest and prosecute journalists who have done nothing wrong but fulfill their primary mandate of informing Kenyans and on a matter of great national and international interest.

This mandate become even more critical in an environment where official communication from the relevant government arms, especially the security agencies, has displayed a high degree of obfuscation and misinformation that lends credence to suspicion of cover-up.

The head of police has singled out Mohammed Ali and John Alan Namu of KTN for the Jicho Pevu programme that highlighted blunders by the security agencies in the course of the Westgate operation.

We ask the two journalists to ignore any summons that might be issued in contempt of letter and spirit of the Constitutional and Statute law guarantees on media freedom.

The Inspector-General has tried to justify his outrageous threats by quoting completely out of context paragraphs from the constitution under where media freedom must be tempered with considerations for the national good and the rights of individuals.

To justify his unlawful machinations against the media, Mr Kimaiyo is relying on a skewed and self-serving interpretation of Article 33 of the Constitution.

The Kenya Editors Guild wishes to state that this is an affront to media freedom and an attempt to prevent free flow of information contrary to Article 34 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

All of us are assumed to know and understand that the right to freedom of media is not absolute. However, the Kenya Editors’ Guild knows that any limitation to the right of freedom of media or any other fundamental right for that matter can only exist within the provision of Article 24 of the Constitution.

Mr Kimaiyo should appreciate that failings within the security systems that make room for terrorist attacks are a much greater threat to national security than media exposure of such failing.

The Kenya Editor’s Guild takes Mr Kimaiyo’s statement as an unacceptable threat to constitutional provisions on freedom of the media and the general freedom of communications.

We challenge the Inspector General of Police to prove his allegations of incitement and clarify why his officers are harassing journalists in the course of the ir duty.

The Guild also takes this opportunity to ask the Police and the Interior ministry to provide timely and accurate information on the large number of outstanding queries from the Westgate incident.

We treat the threats from the Kenya Police against the media as pathetic and tragic attempts by reactionary forces in society to drag the country back into the dark old days of one-party dictatorship and repression.

We have seen the same mindset in statements from the Parliamentary committees purporting to investigate the Westgate incident, but have instead focused their energies on threatening the media and covering-up for the Kenya Defense Force and other agencies that came out in bad light.

As media practitioners, we maintain that a free press holds the promise to foster innovative, successful and stable Kenyan democracy. Government and the police should seize this promise by recognizing the vital role of a free media and taking the necessary steps to create society in which independent media and journalists can operate freely and without fear or intimidation.

We remind the Kenya Police that it is the cardinal duty of media to access to information and share it with their audiences. This is a duty the media has largely carried out professionally, with integrity and a high sense of responsibility.

As it stands today, the media in Kenya is self-regulating and there are clear provisions in the law on how those aggrieved by media reportage can seek relief. Of all the people, Mr Kimaiyo must be assumed to know that there exists a Complaints Commission within the Media Council of Kenya where he or the National Police Service can file complaints against any media establishment and seek appropriate relief. His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta himself has once sought the indulgence of t he Complaints Commission of the Media Council over what he felt was reportage prejudicial to his reputation. So, why shouldn’t Mr Kimaiyo follow the President’s example? 

If one is not satisfied by the decision of the Complaints Commission, there is judicial recourse as specified in law.

It is improper for the Police to argue that media exposure of what went wrong at Westgate threatens national security, supports an enemy of the state or amounts to propaganda and incitement.

The media will not be cowed by such statements and will soldier own with efforts to uncover the truth and share it with the public.

Signed for and on behalf of the Kenya Editors Guild:

Macharia Gaitho – Chair

David Ohito – Vice-Chair

Hassan Kulundu – Ag Secretary

Catherine Gicheru – Asst Treasurer

October 24, 2013