In Video Detailing Westgate Mall Attack, Al-Shabab Extolls Role Of Social Media In Spreading Its Message

February 26, 2015

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On February 21, 2015, the Somali group Al-Shabab released a video documenting its 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The video features audio and video clips, as well as a detailed account of the attack and its aftermath.

In the video, Al-Shabab accuse Kenyan authorities of misinformation and confusion during the Westgate attack, and show several news clips of Kenyan officials contradicting each other regarding the status of the counterterrorism operation in the mall, as well as the numbers and identities of the attackers. In this regard, the group extolls the role of its official Twitter account (@HSM_Press) in disseminating accurate information in real time, including streaming audio clips of the attackers from inside the mall. A speaker in the video says: “HSM Press soon became the most credible source of information on the attack, and with the media blackouts still in place, the official government narrative was, for many Kenyans, too hard to swallow. And so they took to social media, where HSM Press Office proved to be a far more reliable source of information than the ridiculously implausible government narrative.”

The video also features audio clips that were streamed live from inside the mall during the attack, in which the attackers explained their motives in attacking Kenya and threatened further attacks as well.