How Al-Shabaab masterminded DusitD2 terror attack in 140 calls

Dusit D2
DusitD2 terror attack. [Photo: BBC]

It took 140 calls to plan the deadly DusitD2 Hotel complex terror attack in 2019 where more than 20 people died.

This is according to court documents presented by the Kenyan government before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The masterminds of the terror attack were meticulous and unforgiving, each of them handed a specific role in the attack. Every detail of the terror attack was relived including how one of the operatives, Violet Wanjiru alias Kemunto managed to escape to Somalia.

It all started with a total of 22 calls to one Mahir Kahlid Riziki who later travelled to Kenya through El Walk on January 11, 2019.

A number registered in Somalia made the 22 calls, the government submitted before ICJ in case where it is blocking Somalia’s claim to territorial waters.

Riziki, a suicide bomber was said to have advanced training and was the militant who was marked to eliminate security personnel.

He fled to Tanzania in 2014 after killing a civilian in Mombasa but was later traced in Somalia in 2015 where he underwent training with the militant group.

Riziki who was born in Majengo, Mombasa returned to the country in 2019 and activated his Kenyan number. He called another operative who was involved in the DusitD2 attack.

He was housed by the master planner of the attack, Ali Salim Gichunge who had been living in Mucatha, Kiambu County together with his wife.

 “Except for his Somali contact and Gichunge, Riziki placed calls to only one other number from the time he entered Kenya until his death four days later, thereby limiting his exposure to Kenyan security forces,” Kenya said in the documents.

On the day of the attack, Rizki called Gichunge 11 times. His total calls to Gichunge were 91, the last one being on the fateful day at 15: 25 pm.

A scary sight of Riziki blowing himself up metres away from Secret Garden Restaurant within the precincts of DusitD2 complex remain etched in the minds of eye witnesses.

Gichunge who led the operation was a witty man according to the government. He was mindful of his communication and his phone was always off except when getting in touch with his fellow militants in Somalia via Facebook.

“Gichunge was highly conscious of the security of communications; for instance, he never contacted Somalia by phone – only using Facebook – turned his phone off when he travelled to meet associates, and spoke to Riziki only on a dedicated phone line.”

He was the link between the operatives in Somalia and in Kenya and would receive finding from a contact in Mandera Yussuf Ali Adan, court filings show.

The third operative involved in the attack Osman Ibrahim Gedi crossed over to Kenya from Somalia on January 2, 2019 and used a fake ID to register a sim card as well as fake documents to obtain a driver’s license.

The fourth attacker, Mayat Omar Abdi is said to have travelled from Daadab in Garissa to Gichunge’s home in Muchatha. He had made 81 calls to Somalia according to forensic investigations.

Abdi later hid in Eastleigh and got into contact with Gedi on January 12, 2019 and he activated a Kenyan phone number which he used to communicate with allies in Somalia.

He could not speak Swahil or English.

Gichunge’s wife, Kemunto who managed to escape was tasked running the safe house in Mucatha.

She would travel to Mandera days before the attack and nothing has been heard of her since January 14 when she crossed over to Somalia.