The modern urban obsession with celebrity buildings and high-profile events offers too many publicity-rich targets. A World Trade Centre, a Mumbai hotel, a Boston marathon, a Nairobi shopping mall are all enticing to extremists. Defending them is near impossible. Better at least not to create them.
I hate it when an op-ed writer promises to have all the answers to a particular question, and then you get two-thirds of the way through and realise they have no idea what they're talking about. So, to save you from that particular form of torment, allow me to declare up front: I have yet to make sense of the images and stories coming from my home city, Nairobi.
The Westgate Mall wasn't necessarily targeted as some kind of proxy for the US or European interests. An argument is being made that because the mall was popular with expats, then by default, this is an attack on Western interests. Nairobians know that of all the malls in Kenya "popular with expats", Westgate was probably a distant second or third. It is however, popular with Kenyans like me, who reject the cruelty of al-Shabab in Somalia, but also question US security policy in Africa. It's not necessarily about religion either. Westgate, in many ways, was emblematic of the multiculturalism that makes Kenya extraordinary - look at the list of victims so far released; listen to the appeals for unity and from where they come. Terrorists may be simple, but their victims often aren't.
In his statement, Adebolajo apologized that women “had to see this.” [W]hy should women, but not men, be spared it? (As it happens, women on the scene behaved with conspicuous gallantry, and ironically, it was eventually a policewoman who shot him, not fatally.) The turn of phrase, “had to see,” was telling, considering that Adebolajo spoke English perfectly. His wording could not be the result of a faulty command of the language. By saying that women “had to see this,” he distanced himself from the obvious fact that they saw it because he did it, and that he did it because he decided to do it. He made it sound as if what they saw were a natural disaster, rather than a voluntary act that he performed.
"Notebook found: A notebook found by police at the Kenyan house rented by Lewthwaite, and allegedly written by her, contained the framework for a guide to Jihad. The handwritten document said the inspiration for the book was given by Lewthwaite's two children, five and eight, who told their mother they wanted to be holy warriors when they grew up."
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