Tag Archives: Global War on Terror

Unintended Consequences: A Fitness App Reveals a Secret US Military Base in Kenya

Fitness tracking Strava App reveals outlines of secret US bases (because people jog around the perimeter) around the world and as well as potentially sensitive information about military personnel on active duty.

Here’s what US Forward Operating Base Camp Simba in Lamu County, Kenya looks like.

The long vertical line in red is Camp Simba’s runway recently expanded to accommodate Hercules C-130 transport planes.

(Don’t yet see signs of Al-Shabaab – KDF running around circles in the nearby Boni forest)

Giveaways That Al-Shabaab’s Video Of The Battle Of El-Adde Was Staged

On Sunday, April 3rd, Al-Shabaab’s media wing released a recruitment video showing the militant group’s January 15th raid at a Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) camp at el-Adde, Somalia. It was the deadliest attack on an AMISOM mission to date, killing 100-200, 12 were reportedly taken hostage. KDF has yet to release any casualty figures to the public.

After viewing the video I contacted a military source – let’s call him ‘Dave’ – and asked him what he thought. Dave is a former KDF soldier, who has on several occasions engaged in battle with Al-Shabaab in Somalia. He is also a keen observer; his opinion is that much of the footage showing fighters approaching the KDF was staged i.e. filmed almost entirely on Saturday the 16th, the morning after the initial siege.

Here’s why:

  • Early reports indicated that three Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) had exploded inside the camp on Friday morning, January 15th. Dave thinks the explosion shown in the video is only one VBDEID which they detonated the following morning – but captured from different angles – to give the impression of several successive explosions. Use of split screen   would indicate the same.IMG_2382
  • KDF apparently had received photos from Friday morning’s attack  that showed deceased soldiers laying on a road outside the camp. The al-Kataib video shows only soldiers who’d been killed inside the camp, perhaps to underscore the military’s lack of preparedness. The Somali National Army (SNA) camp was co-located with the el-Adde camp 600 meters away. As Dave tells it the SNA had been tipped off of an impending attack. When the fighters arrived they fired several rounds near Somali National Army (SNA) camp as warning shots for occupants to evacuate. The shots also served as a decoy to lure KDF soldiers out of their camp into the “killing area”. Dave concludes that al-Shabaab probably killed a number KDF soldiers outside the camp as they tried to reinforce soldiers en route to the SNA camp. By midday, several hours after the attack, it was clear to al-Shabaab that KDF reinforcement from Nairobi headquarters was not coming, so they “extricated” (military parlance for withdrawing). They may have mingled with locals and the next day returned to the KDF camp –  now itself a kill area – to crush the remaining soldiers. A good portion of soldiers may have been killed inside the camp the next day. This means the camp was overrun on Saturday, not Friday.
  • Dave noted the fighters were not advancing toward the camp in a tactical formation; indeed, they appeared at times to be casually strolling through open grassy fields not expecting engagement. Al-Shabaab are foreign-trained and would never move around a battle field this way. IMG_2431
  • The film doesn’t show any return fire from the KDF camp, which is unlikely and for that reason would have been difficult to edit out. Not a single al-Shabaab militant appears in the video wounded or dead. Clearly al-Shabaab suffered casualties. Presence of bloated corpses indicates some soldiers were killed Friday morning but filmed the next day — corpses usually don’t bloat within the first few hours of death.
  • There were way too many Al-Shabaab fighters with phone cameras filming the attack. Dave notes that al-Shabaab consists of hundreds of professionally foreign-trained fighters who wouldn’t be caught dead in a battle field with cameras in hand.IMG_2410



On a final note Dave said Commander, Major Geoffrey Obwoge, was probably killed the second day. It appeared he was trying to repulse the enemy in an APC, along with the gunner and driver. One of the tires had been shot, caught fire (explaining the billowing black smoke) and the commander was unable to continue. As a commander he’d have been among the last men standing. If he was afraid in his final moments, it didn’t show. He stood his ground. The el-Adde camp was under-manned and under-equipped: the commander did not fail his company. Rather, KDF head quarters in Nairobi failed the company at el-Adde.




U.S. President Barak Obama’s trip to Kenya, July 2015



President's Cadillac called The Beast
President’s Cadillac, ‘The Beast’
Kenyan Security Personnal , left, and U.S. security peraonnal, right secure the area at Kenytta International Airport before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, arrives in Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, May 3, 2015.  Kerry is visiting Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Djibouti on his trip. (AP Photo/SAyyid Azim)
Kenyan Security Personnal , left, and U.S. security peraonnal, right secure the area at Kenytta International Airport before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, arrives in Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, May 3, 2015. Kerry is visiting Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Djibouti on his trip. (AP Photo/SAyyid Azim)
Obama in Kenya wtmk -1  








Al-Shabaab’s New Video Warns Of More Attacks in Kenya

 NAIROBI – Al-Shabaab’s media wing, Al-Kataib, released a video yesterday, “Itakuwa”. The 30 minute video contains surprisingly few gory photos and focuses almost exclusively on the militant group’s Kenyan emir, Ahmed Amin Ali. He explains to a group of uniformed fighters (and potential recruits watching the video) why the group carried out the deadly attack last month at el-Adde, a Kenyan military camp in Somalia.
Initially Al-Shabaab claimed to have killed 100. One month on the Kenyan government has yet to divulge the official death toll. A source close to the Kenya Defense Forces said that DNA samples were taken  from the remains of 143 bodies recovered at the scene, adding that 58 had survived.
The translator I chose is a former KDF officer from western Kenya, who fought on the front lines against al-Shabaab in Somalia soon after Kenya’s invasion in 2011. He now works for a private security company in Nairobi.

The following translation is interpretive and not word-for-word. For the sake of clarity, I refer to a translation provided by the al Qaida-allied Global Islamic Media Foundation, via the Long War Journal. During the emir’s lecture the militants shouting “Allah Wakbar”. My translator detected their accents were neither Somali nor coast Kenyans, but belonging to “upcountry” Kenyans. While Amin Ali lived in Nairobi’s Majengo area, he speaks fluent and traditional Swahili typical of Kenyan and Tanzanians from the Kenya coast. He uses words such “Nusura” – Swahili/Arabic for ‘God will save us from the enemy’ and ‘Bugdha’,  meaning’ God’s wrath’.

Sheikh Ahmed Amin Ali:
‘We have warned Kenyans again and again of an attack but they didn’t heed the warning’.
The success of the attack was beyond his expectations, the emir said.
‘Everything I am wearing now – from the boots, combat uniform, pouches, to the rifle – are all war booty. The only item which belongs to me is my head scarf’.
I am informing the family of the man who owned this rifle – butt number 0490  – that the gear belonged to this soldier.
Kenyans have been told over and over they will be victims of al-Shabaab, just as Burundians, Ethiopians, and Ugandans.
Al Shabaab was able to defeat by faith and not by firepower as was evidenced by attacks Uganda and Ugandans fled. KDF had prior info of the attack as all of them had combat gear on from helmut, pouches , boots and firearms. El Addee will be etched in Kenyan history in the same way Westgate and Mpekatoni has.
Al-Shabaab is in forefront of re-writing Kenya’s history; they [al-Shabaab] will indoctrinate their offspring to kill Kenyans, mostly “makafiri” (Christians or non-Muslims).
The former KDF translator said because of prior intelligence of an impending attack soldiers were on high alert during the night, dozing with their rifles in hand. But as dawn approached they concluded they made it through the night, and let down their guard. That’s when the attack occurred.
Amin Ali goes on to say Al-Shabaab subdued the camp [at el-Adde] and a number of KDF soldiers abandoned of their firearms. Uhuru Kenyatta is a messenger/tool who works at the behest of western countries including America, France, and the rest …
Mpekatoni is [a town] largely inhabited by members of his [Kenyatta’s] ethnic Kikuyu tribe. The Kenyan government is perpetually full of lies; they claimed that Mpekatoni was not an al-Shabaab attack. Two hours after the attack [KDF spokesman] claimed that al-Shabaab had attacked the Somali National Army, yet in truth it was the KDF camp.
 The emir goes on to say SNA soldiers had deserted their camp by dawn. The number of KDF dead was estimated at 200 according, to the SNA commander’s word.
“We [al-Shabaab] will not release the numbers from their side because this was a massive attack and exceeded our expectations.
“The Kenyan government went ahead to guard the issue and to declare laws on media outlets on electronic gadgets of spreading images and information relating to el-Adde attack”.
The President was firm in stating Kenyans will not be cowed, but they were afraid of the photos of the dead soldiers that were doing rounds on social media. If indeed Uhuru is the commander-in-chief he should go to battle and fight alongside his troops as al-Shabaab commanders, who have gained experience of the thrust of war.
Mujahideen fighters should trust the word of Allah that allows punishment of Kenyans for KDF soldiers to be delivered into Allah’s hands. Fighters should have faith in Allah to defeat enemies. They should not put all their belief in the weapons but believe in Allah.
The leader, Amin Ali, cites recent injustices against Muslims in Kenya.
“Our sister who was pregnant was thrown by kafir from the third floor of a tall building in Eastleigh. Another sister in same area was also thrown from a tall building breaking her spine. In Mandera KDF captured a woman, our mother of five. They raped her forces raped her, butchered her and left her in an isolated grave”
(The translator notes that the Mandera woman’s demise by security forces was an extrajudicial killing)
Kenyans took themselves into Somalia and so will have to face the consequences. The Kenya government was not truthful to the families of the deceased. The families therefore should not call the government for information, but call al-Shabaab directly. We will deliver the informed truth.
Amin Ali displays the ID cards of 11 KDF soldiers, mentioning each by name. With each name the audience of fighters shouts their upcountry ethnicity.
“In Kenya blood will ooze in every area and every region”.
We are a pride of lions and we will penetrate Kenya up to state house, if necessary.

The Unknown Plane Crash

NAIROBI, Kenya –

Nearly three months after the reported crash of a plane outside Mogadishu, the fate of twelve passengers aboard remains unknown. Unofficial sources in Somalia say the passengers were mercenaries, all captured by militants loyal to the Islamist group al-Shabaab.

The Kenya-registered Dornier DO-328 turbo-prop departed Nairobi October 28th, its intended destination Balidogle airport, a former military airstrip 110 km south of the Somali capital. That airbase is reportedly in use now by Americans, to launch drones against al-Shabaab leaders. Encountering bad weather, the aircraft went down in the Shabaab-controlled district of Afgoye, south of Somalia’s capital in Lower Shabelle region. In addition to the dozen private military contractors aboard, the flight was transporting supplies for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Sources add that the passengers were “mostly western,” but included three Fijians.

The flight’s fate has been clouded in rumor and fragmentary information. Abdukdir Sidee, governor of Lower Shabelle, confirmed that a plane had crashed outside Mogadishu. “We know that the aircraft crashed in a rural area called Osman-durre,” he said, and added, “We sent the Somali National Army forces and Amisom troops to the area to secure the plane.”

Residents outside of Afgoye reported finding jet fuel on trees near the crash site. Some reports indicated that militant al-Shabaab sympathizers who control the area overran the crash site, camouflaging the plane with branches and leaves.
While the plane had been chartered by AMISOM, a source wishing to remain anonymous said the plane had been “flying off the books” (AMISOM did not have the operation on its flight schedule), and that the passengers comprised “a number of white military-aged males carrying a lot of cash.”

This has led some to speculate that the plane had been carrying mercenaries since the American private military company Bancroft had deployed men to rescue its own personnel.

Since the crash there’s been little information on casualties.

“I think it is bad news for the white hostages at this stage.With potential for filmed executions being distributed via social media,” an American analyst told me.

The only official statement came from the US Department of Defense, which state that no US government personnel were on the plane.

Some call it a media black out. However, per unconfirmed reports the militants had seized all passengers and were taken them away from the crash site. It is not clear however whether the pilots were taken.

Word from the Somali government is that the crash area is controlled by the federal government – not al-Shabaab – and that those aboard the plane were was safely removed and taken to Mogadishu.

An unidentified source related to the peacekeeping mission insists the militants have the passengers, at least, and have separated the mercenaries into two groups. “Negotiations are quietly underway,” he adds.

More recently the source said an “Iranian agent” said the passengers survived the plane crash and made it to safety in Baledogle.




Enemy in the Forest – Kenya’s “Operation Linda Boni”

LAMU, Kenya – Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, released a statement on its media website claiming recent attacks in parts of northeastern Kenya.

At around 6 am on Wednesday, November 25th, Special Forces and Ranger Strike Force battalions were patrolling near the town of Galmagala, the outermost perimeters of the deployment area, when they encountered 15-20 al-Shabaab fighters in jungle camouflage uniforms and armed with PMK and AK-47 assault rifles.

An exchange of gun fire ensued. A high-ranking Kenya Defense Forces officer is said to have been shot and seriously wounded.

The attack took place in Garissa county, near the Somali-Kenya border, where in April al-Shabaab killed at least 148 people at Garissa University.

Northeast Province (aka Northern Frontier District) includes Mandera and Garissa counties, which run the length of the Kenya-Somalia border. The region is inhabited mainly by ethnic Somalis and disputed since Kenya’s independence in 1963.

The conflict continues. The Al-Shabaab statement said its fighters had launched “military operations in occupied Northeast Province of Kenya”.

Attacks in Kenya’s northeast began in 2014 when the group killed dozens in towns in Lamu county. The brutal attacks against non-Muslims continued in Mandera county. In December 2014, the group killed more than 48 – many teachers and quarry workers – in two separate incidents near the border town of Mandera.

The assaults in Lamu county are thought to have been staged in the dense and sprawling Boni Forest, also in Kenya’s northeast region.

On September 11, 2015 Kenya’s security chiefs launched Operation Linda Boni (“Protect the Boni”) ostensibly intended to flush out the militants from the forest.

One month later Kenya authorities told reporters that most of the 300-strong militants who infiltrated the forest had abandoned their camps and retreated to Somalia.

However, at a recent high-level meeting (attended by representatives with USAID) held near Lamu, security forces said they had mapped out 13 areas they identified as “hotbeds of jihadism” linked to multiple terror attacks in Tana River, Garissa and Lamu counties in the last two years.

Operation Linda Boni is in its third month of a three month deployment. To prevent al-Shabaab from returning, security agents announced they’d set up nine additional camps in the forest, as well as permanent housing for its officers. They add they will problem extend the deployment two years.

Long Goodbye – How Obama Glossed Over Africa’s Troubles – The Daily Beast

Long Goodbye

LONG GOODBYE   07.27.15  2:20 PM ET

How Obama Glossed Over Africa’s Troubles


To keep his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia upbeat, Obama declined to address some of the really big problems in both countries.

NAIROBI — In what may give the term “birther” new meaning, it’s rumored that in Kogelo, President Barack Hussein Obama’s father’s hometown on the shore of Lake Victoria, boy babies born over the weekend were named “Air Force One” and “POTUS.”

All part of the long kwaheri, Swahili for “good-bye,” as Obama leaves Africa.

In Kenya, when he walked onstage at the Kasarani stadium to deliver his final speech, the crowd of 5,000 cheered the president as if he were a rock star. As the helicopter known as Marine One delivered the president to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for his departure to Ethiopia, photos appeared on Facebook of grown Kenyan men in tears.

While in Nairobi, the President got and gave a lot of love—some of it of the tough variety delivered to his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta. Obama pressed the Kenyan leader on such sensitive issues as gay rights, which Kenyatta called a “non-issue,” and corruption, about which he made no comment.

The top item on their agenda was Kenya’s fight against Al Shabaab, the Somali-bred Islamist group that has, in recent years, come of age with attacks inside Kenya. After warming up with the kidnapping and murder of tourists, al-Shabaab advanced to devastating acts of violence at malls and universities. Since Kenya invaded Somalia, in 2011, the Somali faction’s retaliation against soft targets on Kenyan soil has left more than 600 dead. And that figure doesn’t include those hundreds who perished when al Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in 1998.

Saturday, in a joint press conference held at the statehouse here, Obama announced that the United States is providing Kenyan security forces additional funding and assistance to deal with terrorism and to make sure that the efforts made to root out terrorist threats do not create more problems than they solve.

The question left unspoken, however, is one that’s been weighing heavily on the minds of analysts, policy makers, and rights groups: What to do with Somali refugees at the Dadaab camp in Kenya’s northeast province, near the Somali border, which allegedly is used as a prime staging ground for al-Shabaab’s attacks.

Dadaab refugee camp, now in operation 23 years, has grown from a tented village to become a small city that houses over 300,000 stateless people.
Kenya’s refugee problems are not new, dating from the ’90s when Somalis fleeing the brutal dictatorship of Muhammad Siad-Barre put down roots in an area of Nairobi now called Eastleigh. It is home to over 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers, yet over time has become an important East African trade hub for the Somali diaspora in Nairobi.

Dadaab, now in operation 23 years, has grown from a tented village to become a small city that houses over 300,000 stateless people. According to Human Rights Watch, Kenyan security forces deployed to Dadaab since the 2011 invasion of Somalia have committed abuses and human-rights violations against refugees.

Shortly after April’s al-Shabaab assault on Garissa University, which left at least 147 dead, Médecins Sans Frontières took the precautionary measure of evacuating 42 members of its staff from Dadaab. The withdrawal had an immediate impact on MSF’s ability to provide medical care to the camp’s mainly Somali residents.

Kenya has since demanded that the UN move the camp’s population back to Somalia, and given a three-month deadline to do it. Human-rights groups pointed out that the move is, under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, illegal.

Kenya’s Christians and Muslims have historically coexisted peacefully. Since counter-terror efforts were ramped up under George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, Muslim communities along the country’s Swahili coast see themselves as having been marginalized and made victims of state-sponsored terror.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Kenya and mediated talks between President Kenyatta and the UN on the issue of Dadaab. Afterwards, Kerry said that the refugee camp would remain open, pledging $45 million to the UN High Commission for Refugees and continued efforts for voluntary repatriation.
Obama’s final speech at Kasarani stadium amounted to his welcoming acceptance of the country’s embrace, as a son of Kenya. It was probably not lost on the American president, however, that last year police had rounded up thousands of Muslims—mainly women and children—and detained them for three weeks on a soccer pitch a few hundred meters from the stadium where Obama was speaking. The mass detention came in reaction to a series of explosions in Eastleigh that killed six and injured more than 20 people.

Rights groups reported that police extorted money from men in Eastleigh and sexually harassed female detainees. Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku said in a press conference in Nairobi at the time that all undocumented Somali refugees in Eastleigh would be deported back to Somalia.

Over the weekend of Obama’s visit, the two countries’ leaders spoke of “deepening of ties” on the matter of counter-terror.

Kenyatta declared that the war on terror is an “existential fight” of a kind Kenya has not previously experienced. The Kenyan president’s point was that Nairobi must have partners like Washington.

In the absence of an efficient judicial system, a major question in Kenya remains whether security forces will continue to use the hard-line, abusive approach in dealing with terror threats. Since 9/11, the U.S. has applied at least $200 million in aid money, disbursed through various agencies, to East Africa’s counter-terror efforts. During his visit in May, Secretary Kerry committed an additional $100 million to Kenya, an increase from $38 million the previous year.

Over the weekend Obama and Kenyatta came up with a plan that will further increase financial aid for the military, police, and judiciary under the Peacekeeping Operations program through the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism. It’s still unclear the amount of funding that Obama has promised to Kenya and what strategies will be promoted.

Following the big roundup that led to lengthy detention at Kasarani, The Daily Beast established contact in Eastleigh with Lul Isack, chair of Umma, a community organization that had created a safe house for dozens of female detainees who reported being sexually assaulted and abused by police. In Somali societies women who’ve been raped are typically unable to find a husband, and married women are abandoned. Umma provided victims psychological counseling and surgical care.

sked now whether she is worried about how the Kenyan government plans to use monies donated by the United States to Kenya for counter-terror operations, Lul said she was pleased that Obama had announced that the U.S. pledges $1 billion to support women and youth entrepreneurs worldwide and increase technical and financial support for young women entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa. “I believe this is where we as a civil society organization come in, and we women now have a platform and our voices will be heard,” she says. “Kenya has challenges, but Obama is president of the most powerful country in the world and we believe the Kenya government will listen to him.”

Kenyan police continue to extort money from Somali businesspeople, says Lul, but the women she cared for managed to return to Somalia via voluntary repatriation—towns and cities like Mogadishu, Kismayo, and Hargeisa in Somaliland—and have succeeded in opening businesses, such as beauty salons.

After departing Kenya, Obama made his first trip ever to Ethiopia. There, he met with officials of the government, the African Union (AU) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to discuss trade, the political crisis in South Sudan and the ongoing battle against Al-Shabaab.

The new mantra in Kenya, as elsewhere, is “trade, not aid.” Obama’s visit to East Africa is said to demonstrate the U.S. government’s firm commitment to the battle against terrorism in the region, and to help Ethiopia develop from an aid-recipient nation to a partner in a mutually beneficial trade relationship.

The president drew fiery criticism over the astronomical costs of his traveling to a conflict zone, but throughout his African journey he has appeared to be his usual cool, unflappable self, and already he is talking about returning to Kenya as a private citizen, when he can have more freedom to connect with his extended family and have hands-on engagement with poor communities.

“I can guarantee you I will be back,” the president said. “And the next time I am back, I may not be wearing a suit.” He won’t be on Air Force One, either.