On Wednesday, September 25, BBC News reported that experts from experts from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Canada and Interpol are helping Kenyan authorities learn more about the militant Islamists responsible for killing 67 people during the Westgate mall attack.
According to BBC News, "Forensic experts are combing the Westgate shopping complex for DNA, fingerprints and ballistic clues, said Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku.
"He confirmed that five militants were dead and said the bodies of more were expected to be found."
A New York Times article written by Nicholas Kulish, Jeffrey Gettleman and Alan Cowell that was published on September 25 reported that the plan was carefully organized and carried out by members of a militant Islamist group with al-Qaeda ties called al-Shabab.
According to BBC News, "Al-Shabab... has repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of Somalia.
"About 4,000 Kenyan troops have been serving in the south of Somalia since October 2011 as part of an African Union force supporting Somali government forces.
"Scores of people have been killed in Kenya since the incursion in a string of bomb and grenade attacks blamed on - and some claimed by - al-Shabab."
There is also evidence that the attackers had a religious agenda. During the four-day siege at the Westgate mall, the members of al-Shabab showed mercy to Muslims who were among the hostages and let them leave the mall. Kulish, Gettleman and Cowell suggested that this could have been a public relations move.
Al-Shabab is known for brutal attacks against other Muslims. Allowing the Muslim hostages to leave may have been intended to help them win the hearts and minds of other people in Somalia.
According to the New York Times, "The way the attack was carried out may be related to a rift between Omar Hammami, a Shabab fighter who grew up in Alabama and became a phantomlike figure across the Somali deserts, and the group’s emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane. Mr. Hammami — known by his nom de guerre, Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, 'the American' — was reportedly fatally shot by another wing of al-Shabab less than two weeks ago, although he has been reported dead before only to resurface alive.
"One reason for the rift was Mr. Hammami’s complaints that al-Shabab had become too brutal toward fellow Muslims under Mr. Godane’s leadership. That brutality, Mr. Hammami said, was the reason al-Shabab had become so unpopular in Somalia and had lost so much territory recently.
"Witnesses to the siege in the mall have said the militants urged Muslims to get out before the shooting started, and Stig Jarle Hansen, a Norwegian researcher who has published a book on al-Shabab, said the rift might explain why the militants decided to spare Muslims. In the past, al-Shabab have killed countless Muslims in Somalia with suicide bombs and buried Muslim girls up to their necks in sand and stoned them.
"'Even Osama bin Laden criticized Godane for being too harsh,' Hansen said. "This attack might have been Godane's way of saying, "See, I’m not so harsh — to Muslims."' "
In a recent Aljazeera opinion article, Daniel E. Agbiboa said the Westgate attack shows that al-Shabab is dedicated to the same goals as al-Qaeda.
According to Agbiboa, "Al-Shabab's Westgate attack in Kenya should be understood in the light of the blood-soaked global jihadist campaign of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization...
"Al-Qaeda's agenda is ideological, religious and political in nature, including unifying the Islamic world under a puritanical interpretation of Sunni Islam, the rejection of both secular rule and the institution of the nation-state in the Muslim world leading to the overthrow of all existing Muslim countries and the integration of all Muslim societies into a Caliphate, the liberation of Muslim territories from foreign occupation, and the use of holy war (lesser jihad) to bind Muslims together and lead them through a 'clash of civilization' that will rid the Muslim world of non-Muslim cultural and political influence."
It is unclear how killing a random assortment of people including, according to Agbiboa, the Ghanaian poet Professor Kofi Awoonor and a Canadian diplomat would do anything constructive to meet any of al-Shabab's political or religious goals. Agbiboa said al-Qaeda uses jihad as a "one-size-fits-all solution" for all ideological conflicts, whether they be with other Muslims or global enemies in the U.S. and the West.