Terence McCoy — SMH June 21, 2014
While Kenyans gathered around a television to watch the World Cup this week, there came the roar of an engine and the flash of the black Islamist flag that symbolises a terrorist insurgency that spans the globe. When the killing in Mpeketoni was done, more than 60 lay dead.
“The attackers were so many and were all armed with guns,” Meshack Kimani told Reuters. “They entered the video hall where we were watching a World Cup match and shot indiscriminately.”
On Wednesday, the possible identity of the terrorists’ alleged leader emerged in a series of interviews conducted by the London Telegraph. “I saw a white man who was speaking in fluent British English commanding the rest of the attackers,” one woman said.
Another added: “There was a white man among them; he was commanding them and was shouting now and then. I saw him ordering them to carry out the attacks. He could be heard speaking frequently and at one point he spoke in Arabic, but most of the time in English.”
A third witness told the Telegraph that “all were commanded by someone who was white”.
The stories, if true, mark the latest example of a Westerner participating in radical Islamic attacks. From the world’s most wanted woman, Samantha Lewthwaite — a murderous militant who is white, Christian and British — to thousands of Europeans fighting alongside jihadists in Syria, Westerners are turning against their own countries. As The Age reported this week, several Australians have joined rebels fighting in Iraq.
Earlier this month, a young Frenchman named Mehdi Nemmouche, who spent more than a year training in Syria, was charged with a recent shooting at Brussels’s Jewish Museum that left four dead. When he was arrested, his gun was wrapped in a sheet emblazoned with the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). “He spent over a year in Syria, where he seems to have joined the ranks of combatant groups, jihadist terrorist groups,” Paris public prosecutor Francois Molis said.