US Doubts Kenya's Efforts in Lamu Terror Attack

  • The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) were on Wednesday, January 22, criticised for failing to put up a fight in protecting American forces during the suspected al-Shabaab attack at Manda Bay camp in Lamu County on January 5.

    A report published by the New York Times after interviews with military personnel who sort anonymity indicates that members of the American military were of the opinion that Kenyan forces did not do enough to prevent the attack that led to the death of three American citizens.

    “Many of the local Kenyan forces, assigned to defend the base, hid in the grass while other American troops and support staff were corralled into tents, with little protection, to wait out the battle.

    “It would require hours to evacuate one of the wounded to a military hospital in Djibouti, roughly 1,500 miles away,” read an excerpt from the report.

    A past photo of American forces at the Manda Bay camp in Lamu county

    The article further classified Kenya as a country where there was a growing concern for the security of American forces.

    “Kenya is a new addition to the list of countries where Americans have been killed in combat since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, joining Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Syria and Yemen,” an excerpt of report reads. 

    The article also drew more questions on the safety of the camp indicating that it was highly infiltrated due to lack of proper manning.

    The Americans also insinuated that the Kenyan forces could have had a hand in planning the attack.

    "Investigators are looking at the possibility that the attackers had help from Kenyan staff on the base. The performance of the Kenyan security forces during and after the battle frustrated American officials.

    “Those forces are typically not as capable as U.S. forces, and are easier for terrorist groups to infiltrate,” added the report.

    The Americans also accused their Kenyan counterparts of giving wrong information to the public about the details of the attack.

    “At one point, the Kenyans announced that they had captured six of the attackers, but they all turned out to be bystanders and were released. Why the base was not better protected is unclear. 

    “Surveillance aircraft, much like those destroyed in the attack, are valuable assets, especially in Africa, where extremist groups seek to exploit the vast expanses and porous borders to avoid detection,” added the report.

    A cloud of smoke is pictured at Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu County following an attack by Al-Shabaab militants on January 5, 2020.

    After the January 5 attack, the Kenyan government through military spokesperson Paul Njuguna confirmed that four terrorists’ bodies were found.

    The spokesperson also indicated that the attack was successfully repulsed and that the KDF forces had succeeded in securing the airport in the area.