Kenya Charges Four Somali Men In Mall Attack

Four men the suspected in the attack of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi were charged in court Monday. Somalia-based militant group al-Shabaab claimed credit for the attack, which left at least 67 people dead. None of the four were charged with executing the attack, but instead with sheltering the gunmen and obtaining fake Kenyan IDs for the attackers.

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In Kenya today, four people were charged in connection to the horrific attack on a Nairobi shopping mall back in September. The attack claimed at least 67 lives.

NPR's Gregory Warner has details on today's charges.

GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: None of the four men is accused of being part of the team that attacked shoppers at Nairobi's Westgate Mall. But the men, all ethnic Somalis, were charged with allegedly sheltering the gunmen and obtaining false Kenyan IDs. Somali-based militant group al-Shabab claimed credit for the attack.

George Musamali is a former special police officer who now runs a Kenyan security company. He said over Skype that the men now charged were arrested back in September, in the days just after the attack, and they're believed to be part of the terror cells that included the gunmen.

GEORGE MUSAMALI: The four that have been already caught played some role in the planning and the execution of the attack.

WARNER: Police spokesmen did not confirm when the arrests took place. Rasheed Abdy, an independent analyst and columnist for Kenya's Daily Nation Newspaper, says that in Kenya, no one has ever been convicted on terrorism charges over the last 10 years; the case is always thrown out for lack of evidence.

RASHEED ABDY: Yeah, the problem has always been in this country gathering evidence.

WARNER: He said the government is under pressure to show progress in the Westgate Mall investigation. Six weeks after the assault, much more public attention has focused on the failures of security forces, including alleged looting of shops during the siege by Kenyan soldiers caught on closed circuit camera.

ABDY: You have four people that are now arraigned before the courts simply to mollify the Kenyan public that something is being done.

WARNER: The suspects, some of whom were picked up in a remote desert refugee camp, have no legal representation. They've all pleaded not guilty.

Gregory Warner, NPR News, Nairobi.

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