A group attacked the Nairobi mall, where they “have killed at least 68 people, injured 175, and were believed to be holding about 30 people hostage,” the Kenyan authorities reported early on Monday. Developments made later revealed that Al-Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s proxy group in Somalia, was responsible for the attack. What is even more surprising is that both the Al-Shabaab and the Kenyan authorities are summarizing a play-by-play on Twitter.
Al-Shabaab tweeted names of nine of the alleged gunmen in the attack, and later the Kenyan Red Cross tweeted that “nine bodies were recovered Sunday night, bringing the death toll to 68”. Tweets are continuing throughout the attack and hostage situation from both parties including Al-Shabaab’s motive for the deadly siege of the Westgate mall. “When justice is denied, it must be enforced,” it said in a tweet Sunday. “Kenyans were relatively safe in their cities before they invaded us & killed Muslims #Westgate” How the Al-Shabaab group is using social media scares me, especially how they hash-tagged “Westgate”. To teenagers, hash-tags are something silly that you attach to a post to lighten it up, or idolize our “Man crush Monday” of the week. Al-Shabaab just gave hash-tags a whole new meaning for me.
The most shocking tweet in all of the Twitter feeds was one from Al-Shabaab that said “all Muslims were escorted from the mall before the attack.” These words were so appalling, because that means that someone went through the mall and took all the Muslims to safety, and not one of them had the courage to warn the other people inside the mall. As the attack continues “pools of blood smeared pristine hallways” and bodies lay on the floor. So far, none of the reported casualties have been American, but many have been wounded.