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Ruhila Adatia Sood:The journalist who perished during the Al-shabab attacke at Westgate Kenya

The world is perturbed by what happened in Kenya on 21st September 2013 from 11:40am. The Westgate Mall was attacked by al-shabab; a Somali terror group. The Westgate shopping mail is the heart of the city of Nairobi. It is a one stop shopping mall that attracts Kenyan citizens of middle and upper class. It is a popular joint for diplomats, foreigners and tourists. Many people visit this place to shop and it is an excellent recreational joint for families. But on this fateful Saturday, Westgate was a war zone.

According to the government report the terrorists were around 15 in number and drawn from different nationalities; Kenyans, Somali, Arabs, Americans, British among others. The attackers were between 22 to 29 years. Sources reveal that these terrorists rented a shop in Westgate 6 months before, a clear indication that the attack was a well planned activity.

The Westgate attack resulted to about 69 deaths of innocent people among them French, Canadians, US, British and Dutch citizens. There were over 175 injuries, 71 persons who were yet to be accounted for. Women were also victims in this tragedy; one woman journalist Ruhila Adatia was shot dead with her six months unborn baby. Many young children also perished in this massacre.

The experiences of the survivors were even more traumatizing. In the narration of the survivors’ narrow escape from death; one lady; Anita, recounts how the gunmen cornered them and were firing without sympathy. Had she not pretended she is dead; people would be speaking of something else about her today. Another victim recounted how she decided to hide under a car for more than 18 hours until when she was rescued.

The doctor who worked on the bodies gave a heart aching report on the dead bodies. He noted torture on the dead bodies. He documented some of the victims were castrated, eyes, ears and nose. “Some of them their hands were sharpen like pencil and were forced to write with their blood. Some of them their fingers and noses were cut by something like pliers.” Noted the doctor.

In managing this disaster Red Cross led in the rescue process. Women and men turned up in large number to donate blood for the victims. One lady volunteered to prepare meals for the security officers and the solders.

The other group that was affected was the wives of the security officers and the solders. It goes without say that some of them are traumatized. After seeing what their husbands were doing to save lives in the process some lost their lives.

Since 2011 Kenya has experienced over 60 attacks from the Al-shabab Jihadists. It was established that the AL-shabab terror had vowed to retaliate against any country that sends its troop to Somali. During this time Kenya sent 5,000 troops into southern Somalia to secure the border area after a series of attacks.

Kenyans and many people globally are baffled by this attack. An over aching question that lingers in anyone’s mind is what is the government doing about all these? What is the international doing about this? When will all these come to an end? The main worry in many people’s hearts in Kenya is that these attacks remain unresolved.

The government reported the good work done by its security and defense force. 5 terrorists were killed. However 10 cannot be account for. The country’s economy is now compromised as it dependents on the goodwill of foreign tourists and investors. Travel advisory has been issued and we know the impact of this; Kenya’s vital tourist industry will be affected.

The Kenyan National Security Intelligence Service is challenged to be more prepared to curb such attacks. Also, the Kenyan government should reduce its boarder influx as this increases the number of foreigners who might be harmful. In addition, Kenya should address the issue of youth an employment as many jobless youths are lured to join such militia groups in exchange to getting money. But more importantly, Kenya should address the root cause of these attacks. Kenyan and the world seat awaiting for the day the perpetrators to be brought to book.


Ayunnie dear, I've followed the event on television and press as it unraveled. The media coverage we got in Italy was intense, but quite short-lived and with many contradictions, something imaginable during the battle.

Very little was said of the causes, and the nationalities of the attackers. This is fairly typical, as press tends here to have a short reaction time but a shorter even forget span.

All we got was the horror, and a sense of "why that?" The very same question we in Western countries ask, whenever some apparently inane mass killing occurs (the last one in the Navy quarters at Washington DC). But this one in Kenya had, as you say, precise reasons and a planned evolution.

On one side, I have to say it would be really helpful to our (foreigner) comprehension to read more articles like yours. Anytime something so grueling happens, here in Italy the explain goes to an "attack of Al Qaeda". But so much often, as in this case, reality is much more complex. And so much often we may discover the "qaedists" were not among Bin Laden relatives, but maybe among US and EU nationals - something we prefer to neglect, sticking to stereotypes which do nothing to solve the problem.

On the other.. I wonder which national power, alone, could win what configures like a global war. Somalia might be invaded by a "traditional" army, maybe a multinational coalition's, but I guess it will soon engulf in a myriad of home-by-home "small scale" fights, against an enemy changing everyday fluidly, and without an established front - with damages to civilians I'm horrified to envision in advance... (I remember the case of Iraq, but also of Bosnia just in Europe heart).

I imagine that sooner or later such an action will become inevitable, however. Pressure against other coutries by Somali warlords, as well as the continuous pirate attacks to maritie traffic, will trigger a retaliation. I guess that's not a "possibility which might not happen", but rather a matter of time.

This will not likely be enough. Excuse me for the obvious nature of my contribution. Yet I cannot imagine a problem like Somalia's being solved only militarly (although disarming warlords and narcos will be a step towards, I'm afraid). A social community must be reconstructed, and this is not easy after years and years of abuses, torture, mass murders. Abusers and abusees should "recompose", which will not only demand dialogue, but reconstructing "others" as human beings, not devils. This will take a very long time, under strict surveillance.

I guess, a problem this scale can be solved only by a global effort.

A change of culture and perspective. An appraisal of community and connection where for years these normal human traits have been suppressed. A re-programming and re-positioning of "warriors" from a sort of elite in wartime to less visible, less apparently "prestige", but non-dysfunctional positions...

Dear, all these have been just reflections by one like me who lives afar, with a limited situation awareness - so, please don't consider them as "wise". But globality of effort needed in Somalia I'm very convinced, personally.

And anyway, thank you again. Without all article, my reflection would never have been possible. My hope is that someone else, more powerful and better informed than me, can read too, and be inspired.

Love, hope and peace


Ayunnie's picture

A Global War

Hi Mauri,
Thank you for your comprehensive contribution on my article. I am captured by your very critical analysis and recommendation on how to bring to an end such tragedies. I do agree that terrorism is a global war and therefore needs a global solution.

And more importantly I have been thinking of one of your statements...A change of culture and perspective. An appraisal of community and connection where for years these normal human traits have been suppressed. A re-programming and re-positioning of "warriors" from a sort of elite in wartime to less visible, less apparently "prestige", but non-dysfunctional positions...

This statement speaks volumes of words and of course reality of possible root cause of decay in society. I also believe some people will take time to read your feedback.
Regards from Kenya

@ Nairobi KENYA
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