Somalian terror group al-Shabaab has announced that its brutal attack on a Nairobi hotel complex was in response to President Donald Trump’s moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. A team of four Islamic militants shot dead 21 people at the DusitD2 hotel and business complex Tuesday during a horrific and co-ordinated assault.
Now, the terror group, which has links with both al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, has declared that the massacre was in response to President Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.
“It is a response to the witless remarks of the US president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel,” the group noted in a statement picked up by Reuters.
The group added that it was targeting “Western and Zionist interests worldwide … in support of our Muslim families in Palestine.”
BREAKING: Al-Shabaab statement says Nairobi attack was a response to the “witless remarks” of Pres Trump and his declaration of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, and to the “systematic prosecution of Muslims in Palestine”. Operation was codenamed, “Al-Quds will never be judaized”.
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) January 16, 2019
The Israeli embassy in Nairobi condemned the incident as a “horrific terror attack on innocent lives,” and declared that it “stands with Kenya during this sad moment.”
The State of Israel condemns the horrific terror attack on innocent lives at the DusitD2 Hotel in Nairobi. Yet another attack on innocent people going about their errands. Israel stands with Kenya during this sad moment. We shall continue to fight terror together. #KenyaAttack
— Israel in Kenya (@IsraelinKenya) January 16, 2019
Al-Shabaab has ramped up its deadly operations in Kenya over recent years. In September 2013, the group launched a brutal attack on Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, resulting in the deaths of 67 people. Then, in 2015, the Islamic militia attacked Garissa University College, killing some 148 people. The attackers reportedly allowed Muslims to go free, before executing all those who identified as Christians. It was the deadliest attack in Kenya since the 1998 United States Embassy bombing.
In May of last year, President Trump officially moved the United States embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, thus officially recognizing the historic city as the capital of Israel.
How exactly did the latest attack unfold?
At about 3 p.m. local time, four heavily armed militants began throwing grenades at cars parked outside the hotel complex before storming the building and opening fire indiscriminately. There have been reports that the men had been spotted scouting out the compound over recent days.
⚡ DERNIERE MINUTE – #Kenya : Le premier bilan de l'attaque du 14 Riverside à #Nairobi est de cinq morts. 6 étages de l’hôtel #dusitD2 ont été sécurisés. La police recherche toujours les attaquants." #AttackInWestlands pic.twitter.com/l6Trlp6FaN
— FranceNews24 (@FranceNews24) January 15, 2019
Eyewitnesses have been describing the absolute horror of coming face-to-face with the murderous attackers.
“We were changing our shifts, and that is when I heard a loud blast and people were screaming,” said cleaner Enoch Kibet, as reported by The Guardian. “I couldn’t believe I was alive. The blast was so loud and shook the whole complex.”
“I just started hearing gunshots, and then started seeing people running away raising their hands up and some were entering the bank to hide for their lives,” another woman told Reuters.
How did it end?
At about 11 p.m., Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i declared that the entire complex had been cleared by the authorities and that the threat had been neutralized.
“The situation is under control and the country is safe,” he said. “Terrorism will never defeat us.”
However, there was confusion over the status of the attack after people reported explosions and gunfire several hours after authorities confirmed the siege had ended.
Who was the American victim?
An American businessman was quickly confirmed as one of the several people killed. Jason Spindler, the CEO of a strategy and investment company, was reportedly having lunch at the upscale 14 Riverside Drive complex when he was shot dead.
Spindler, a former investment banker at Citigroup and the founder of the strategy and consulting firm “I-Dev,” which had offices within the Riverside facility, was in Kenya attempting to “make a positive change in the third world in emerging markets,” according to his mother, Sarah.
Our first workshop in Lima on the Art of Negotiating a Deal! Thanks to all who participated and helped to make today a great success #Pecap @pedroneiraf @IDEVNews & Estudio Rebaza en @UtecVentures #entrepreneurs #Lima #Peru #investment #termsheets #perustartups pic.twitter.com/dunrYVEUYZ
— Jason Spindler (@Jason_Spindler) November 15, 2017
“We all miss him so much,” his mom told NBC News. “And it’s so sad that such a bright young person is taken away by terrorism.”
“Jason is Co-Founder of I-DEV, and has 15+ years of experience advising large and small corporations on growth, management and financial strategy,” reads his company bio.
Some Kenyan news outlets, including the Daily Nation, have reported that Jason was also a 9/11 survivor and have quoted a Facebook post penned by his brother, Jonathan, in the wake of his death.
Really sad to hear of the death of Jason Spindler CEO of I – DEV, a strong player and supporter of the Kenyan Tech Ecosystem. We pray for God's grace & comfort for the family and team at I-Dev. 💔💔💔 #RIPJason#14Riverside #KenyaAttack #WeShallOvercome pic.twitter.com/K3kDo8iNoG
— Sam Gichuru (@SamGichuru) January 16, 2019
“Jason was a survivor of 9-11 and a fighter, I am sure he gave them hell, there are no words to describe how our family is feeling but I can say… Jason Spindler you are and will always be an amazing Son, Brother and Uncle,” the post read.
Jason Spindler was one of those rare men who was loved by pretty much anyone be touched in Kenya and around the world. Today he was killed in the terrible al shabab attack in Nairobi. He chose a life of hope and inclusion. I am grateful to have known and learned from him. pic.twitter.com/B4YnxB6bic
— Chris Schroeder (@cmschroed) January 16, 2019
The U.S. State Department issued a short statement on Jason’s death:
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this individual,” a spokesperson said following the attack. “Out of respect for the family of the deceased, we have no further comment.”
Do pray for Jason’s family, and the families of all the victims, at this time of terrible grief.