Thursday 25 December 2014

Israeli special forces take on Nairobi terrorist group which may include Irishwoman

Is Irish terror suspect behind Nairobi attacks?
Smoke billows from roof as troops launch attack on terrorists

Published 23/09/2013 | 07:35

THE Israeli special forces, the Sayeret, have gone into the Nairobi shopping mall under siege by a terror group, which may include an Irishwoman.

Independent.ie has been informed that the terror group who have murdered and executed dozens of people, including women and children, may include up to three female terrorists.

The so-called ‘White Widow’, Samantha Lewthwaite (29), from Banbridge, Co Down, is on the run from the authorities in Kenya after she was previously linked to a terrorist cell that planned to attack a hotel or shopping mall in 2011.

British intelligence services are now investigating whether she is behind the Nairobi attack which has claimed the lives of 68 people so far.

This morning, an image emerged claiming to be from CCTV in the Nairobi mall.

It is claimed the image shows a female hostage taker - but it is not clear this is Irish mum-of-two  Ms Lewthwaite.

The person in the image is sporting a balaclava and holding a handgun.

The shopping centre is owned by Israelis and renowned as a place where many Israelis hang out.

Lindsay Jamal
Samantha Lewthwaite with Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers in London
A Kenyan soldier walks out of the main gate of Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi
Trucks of soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya
A woman wounded in the terrorist attack in Nairobi
A man takes a picture of the ongoing rescue operation at Westgate Shopping Centre in the Nairobi
Residents look at the ongoing rescue operation at the Westgate Shopping Centre in the capital of Nairobi
Security officers take cover behind a wall as they wait for developments near Westgate Shopping Centre during the third day of the stand-off
Security officers walk past members of the media stationed on the edge of a security perimeter
Security officers walk past members of the media stationed on the edge of a security perimeter
Kenyan policemen search a man as he walks past the Westgate Shopping Centre
Kenyan policemen gather for a briefing
Kenya Securiy personnel take cover outside the Westgate Mall after firing started inside the mall
Kenya Security personnel take cover outside the Westgate Mall after firing started
Kenya security personnel outside the Westgate Mall
Kenyan policemen keep vigil near the Westgate Shopping Centre

The Sayeret is an elite secret Israeli commando unit responsible for counter-terrorist and top secret intelligence gathering and hostage rescue missions

It is considered the most effective counterterrorism force in the world and is a highly secretive special-operations brigade.

Policemen search a man for weapons as he walked out of Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Militant gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 39 people, including children, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Kenyan security forces were still locked in a standoff on Sunday with the al Qaeda-linked militants, who were holding an unknown number of hostages. Picture taken September 21, 2013.  REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
Policemen search a man for weapons as he walked out of Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Militant gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 39 people, including children, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Kenyan security forces were still locked in a standoff on Sunday with the al Qaeda-linked militants, who were holding an unknown number of hostages. Picture taken September 21, 2013. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH Relatives and Muslim faithful bury the slain body of Rehmad Mehbub, 18, who was killed in a crossfire between armed men and the police at the Westgate shopping mall, in Kenya's capital Nairobi September 22, 2013. Islamist militants were holed up with hostages on Sunday at a shopping mall in Nairobi, where at least 59 people have been killed in an attack by the al Shabaab group that opposes Kenya's participation in a peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Somalia. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW OBITUARY) TEMPLATE OUT
A general view shows cars parked at the Westgate shopping mall during a shootout between armed men and the police in Nairobi September 22, 2013. Kenyan security forces were locked in a stand-off on Sunday with gunmen who killed at least 39 people at the upmarket shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, and it was still unclear how many hostages the al Qaeda-linked militants were holding. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
A soldier from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) holds his gun as he arrives at the Westgate Shopping Centre in the capital Nairobi September 22, 2013. Kenyan security forces were locked in a stand-off on Sunday with gunmen who killed at least 39 people at an upmarket shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, and it was still unclear how many hostages the al Qaeda-linked militants were holding. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW MILITARY)
REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT Armed police guide a woman carrying a child to safety at Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
People run for cover as the stand-off continues into the night at Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 30 people including children and sending scores fleeing in panic, in an attack claimed by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab. Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside a Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains. REUTERS/Noor Khamis (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
A Kenyan army soldier takes cover behind a wall at Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 30 people including children and sending scores fleeing in panic, in an attack claimed by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab. Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside a Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains. REUTERS/Noor Khamis (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)
A Kenyan army soldier keeps guard in an armoured carrier vehicle, at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 30 people including children and sending scores fleeing in panic, in an attack claimed by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab. Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside a Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains. REUTERS/Noor Khamis (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)
People run for cover as the stand-off continues into the night at Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 30 people including children and sending scores fleeing in panic, in an attack claimed by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab. Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside a Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains. REUTERS/Noor Khamis (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
Armed police search Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, September 21, 2013. Militant gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 25 people, including children, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
Civilians escape an area at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
Security officers secure an area inside Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
Civilians escape an area at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
A girl is helped by police officers inside Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
A police officer tries to secure an area inside the Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on a shooting spree in Nairobi September 21, 2013. The gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. Some local television stations reported hostages had been taken, but there was no official confirmation. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
An injured woman (C) is helped out of the Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on a shooting spree, in Nairobi September 21, 2013. The gunmen stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety. Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH An injured policeman holds on to his wound as his compatriot searches through the Westgate shopping centre for gunmen in Nairobi, September 21, 2013. Gunmen stormed the shopping mall in the Kenyan capital on Saturday killing at least 15 people, according to the Kenyan Red Cross, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets seeking safety. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (KENYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

It has famously been involved in operations in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and, perhaps most famously,  Uganda, where its commandos freed 103 Jewish hostages after a 1976 hijacking.

In the last hour, a loud explosion sent thick smoke billowing from the mall. The blast was followed by other smaller detonations and volleys of gunfire but there was no indication of the fate of people whom the authorities say are being held by 10 to 15 Islamist gunmen who took the complex by storm on Saturday.

As troops ran into new positions, a security official at the scene said: "It is us who caused the explosion, we are trying to get in through the roof."

A plume of oily black smoke was still pouring from the building after 15 minutes.

It is thought that the terrorists are providing updates on the situation through Twitter, currently with the handle @hsm_pressoffice2.

Dozens of people are still being held hostage this morning, although the total number remains unclear. It is thought that up to 15 gunmen are holding the group in a supermarket at the shopping mall in Kenya’s capital.

Lewthwaite, the wife of July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay, was previously suspected of plotting to attack venues popular with Westeners in Kenya and is currently in hiding.

She was accused of being part of a terrorist cell that allegedly involved a number of British nationals and has been linked with the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Concerns over her possible involvement grew last night amid reports that one of the attackers in the mall is female.

Security sources said there was no intelligence to suggest that she is one of the attackers.

Kenyan government spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said there were reports of a white woman among the hostage takers and they were investigating the claims.

When asked if the woman was Lewthwaite, he replied: “Nothing is being ruled out.”

Kenya has had a long struggle against terrorism because of its border with Somalia, the stronghold of al-Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaida.

The Nairobi attack, which started on Saturday, is the latest in a series that involves British citizens as victims or suspects.

As a result, Britain and Kenya’s security and intelligence services have strong links.

Leithwaite has evaded Kenyan authorities since she was accused of terrorist activities in 2011.

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