Confronting a siege by heavily armed and murderous hostage-takers, Kenya has turned to the most experienced experts: Israelis.
The attack by Muslim extremists on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi is a shock — and the ruthlessness of murderers who killed dozens of innocent people underlines how the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab (“The Youth”) wants to prove something to its ideological maestros in Al-Qaeda.
But before considering the strategic implications — and the likelihood that Kenya’s large army will do even more inside Somalia soon to kill Al-Shabaab militants as revenge — the government of that important, tourism-reliant East African nation has to end the hostage siege.
Israel’s government refuses to give details of what Israelis may be doing to help Kenyan authorities deal with the crisis in Nairobi.
But it’s become clear that expert advisors with specialized training and genuine experience — who are out of uniform, but work for Israel’s government and don’t go anywhere without the defense minister’s authorization — flew to Kenya, at the invitation of President Kenyatta, to give whatever help they can.
That kind of veiled contact with Kenya’s government is handled, on the Israeli side, by the Mossad. Israel’s foreign espionage and operations agency has made a point of building excellent relations with Kenya for many decades — as was shown in early July 1976, when Mossad operatives in Kenya helped set up the dramatic rescue of Air France hostages held by terrorists at Entebbe Airport in neighboring Uganda.
It’s understood that the Israeli experts are helping the Kenyans map out the area where the terrorists are holding hostages, examining possible entry points for an assault force, and advising on the kinds of weapons — and surprises — that may be necessary to enter the area and “take out” the Al-Shabaab gunmen before they can harm any more innocent victims.
Despite what some reporters are saying, on the scene, with the tense crowds not far from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, top analysts of Israeli security and defense do not believe that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) sent armed soldiers to take part in an assault.