Did the British military train the gunmen who led Nairobi mall massacre? Muslim convert shot dead by Kenyan troops may have been mentored by UK special forces

Paul Bentley in Nairobi — Sept 28, 2013

CCTV still from Westgate Mall

The suspected leader of the Nairobi mall massacre may have been trained by the British military, it was claimed yesterday.

The Muslim convert known as Omar was killed at the end of the four-day Westgate siege by police and his former comrades in the Kenyan special forces.

Anti-terror officers are looking into the records of special forces soldiers who left the Kenyan army around 2005 – and those who received specialist training from the British.

‘The UK military have worked extensively with Kenyan forces, providing expertise and help,’ an official in Nairobi said.

‘It is highly likely that if this Omar was special forces he would have been trained or mentored at some time by the British.

‘They have provided considerable help and expertise to the Kenyans, especially on the subject of Somalia and its borders.’

Omar is one of at least two Christian converts to Islam who are said to have taken part in the slaughter of as many as 130 people by the Somali-based Al Shabaab terror group.

Western security officials say there is no clear evidence that British fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite, widow of 7/7 suicide bomber  Jermaine Lindsay, took part. However, six witnesses have claimed independently that a white woman was involved in the 15-strong gun gang – several of whom are thought to have escaped in the chaos.

The US authorities say police are trying to obtain DNA samples of Lewthwaite to see if there is a match with any of the bodies found in the rubble of the collapsed Westgate centre.

The 29-year-old is wanted by  Interpol in connection with a failed bomb plot in the Kenyan port of Mombasa two years ago.

Joseph Ole Lenku, the country’s interior minister, said yesterday  that eight men were still being  held under anti-terrorism laws as officers ‘seek to unmask the face behind the terror attack’.

Investigators believe they have found a  silver car used by the terrorists  and identified a house in which  the gang prepared for their murderous assault.

The owner of the house, which is just 100 yards from the Israeli-run shopping centre, was arrested as he tried to leave the country on Tuesday.

He is also understood to have leased a women’s clothing shop apparently used by the terrorists to store guns and ammunition.

Omar is said to have left Kenya for Somalia in 2005, where initially he joined a militant Islamist group before transferring to the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab, which was formed in 2006. Channel 4 said he used to teach Al Shabaab fighters martial arts and boxing at a training camp in Somalia. They say he fell out with the leadership because they thought he lacked sufficient ambition.

A second suspect, identified as Khadhab, is said to be a Somali national who was tortured by the CIA. Sources told Channel 4 that he fled to Al Shabaab-held territory after being released.

Kenya’s security chiefs have been summoned to appear before parliament’s defence committee for questioning over the mall siege.‘The time for responsibility and accountability has come,’ the committee’s chairman, Ndung’u Gethenji, said.

Kenya’s defence and police forces and its National Intelligence Service are at odds with each other amid claims that agents had warned of the attacks but that their superiors had suppressed the reports.

It was reported that a pregnant policewoman has recorded a police statement after her brother, who worked for the NIS, warned her not to visit Westgate last Saturday. The officer is being sought.

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