CNN's Evan Pérez and Shimon Prokupecz
The terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, cost as little as a couple thousand dollars to pull off, according U.S. law enforcement sources.
Far from the portrayal of a sophisticated attack in the weeks after the September attacks that killed 67 and wounded 200, U.S. officials say the attack was relatively simple and cheap. Authorities believe the attackers were affiliated or inspired by Al-Shabaab, the Islamist terror group based in Somalia.
By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister, and Nic Robertson
Editor's note: Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister are writing a book about Morten Storm and his life as a former informant on terrorist groups.
Western intelligence missed a chance to capture or kill the suspected terrorist thought to be behind the Nairobi mall massacre, according to a former informant for both the CIA and the Danish intelligence service.
Morten Storm, who worked as an informant for five years, had forged a close relationship with the man - a Kenyan called Ikrima - who has been responsible for planning attacks inside Kenya for Al-Shabaab.
Storm, a Danish national, told CNN that in March 2012 the Danish intelligence agency PET had offered him one million Danish krone ($200,000) on behalf of the CIA if he could lead them to Ikrima, the target of an unsuccessful operation by US Navy SEALs last month. The SEALs raided an Al-Shabaab compound at Barawe on the Somali coast, but Ikrima escaped.FULL STORY
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, issued an alert this week to Americans that it is looking into reports that an attack similar to the one at a Kenyan mall could soon occur in the the city.
The embassy's statement said there were no specific details about a possible date or location of a "Westgate-style attack." It didn't say where the reports were coming from.
A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest information told CNN the notice was sent "out of an abundance of caution." The U.S. is still vetting the information, the official said, to see if there is any truth behind it.
Washington doesn't think the Westgate attackers or al Qaeda is planning the potential attack, the U.S. official said.
At least 67 people were killed by multiple attackers during the four-day siege at the mall in Nairobi last month. The terrorists who attacked the mall claimed to be members of Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.
The embassy in Kampala - Uganda's capital - urged Americans traveling to the country or living there to register with the State Department's Smart Traveller Enrollment Program.
-CNN's Barbara Starr and Elise Labott contributed to this report.
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. intelligence community is monitoring a specific stream of classified information suggesting the terror group believed to be behind the Nairobi shopping mall attack may be planning new attacks in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, CNN has learned.
Two U.S. officials said the information does not include details of a target or date. But it is the first detailed indication that they may have information to validate threats made by Somali-based al-Shabaab that more attacks were planned after the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
"We are concerned," one official said.
"There are data points that worry us. Our intelligence is focused on how do we prevent any more attacks," the other official said.
By Barbara Starr
More U.S. Marines are fortifying security at the American Embassy in Nairobi following the deadly shopping mall attack there, CNN has learned.
Two U.S. officials confirmed the move in Kenya, but declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
The newly arrived Marines are part of a unit specially trained in enhanced security, including providing personal protection to senior American officials.
That kind of assistance was recently added to tasks performed by the embassy guard program after the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, last year.
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.
Few counterterrorism experts are surprised that the Somali group launched another attack in the Kenyan capital. It has threatened to take revenge ever since Kenyan forces entered Al-Shabaab's heartland in southern Somalia. Small-scale attacks, frequently with hand grenades, have already brought bloodshed to Nairobi's streets. Back in September of last year, Kenyan authorities said they had disrupted a major plot to attack public spaces in Nairobi in its final stages of planning. Authorities also broke up a plot by the group against Western tourists in the city in late 2007.
But the scope of the assault on the Westgate Mall - and especially its eerie similarities to the attack in Mumbai, India, in 2008 - show that Al-Shabaab has taken its ability to strike outside Somalia to a new level.
Only once before has the group caused such carnage in East Africa, when bombers attacked bars and restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on the night of the World Cup Final in 2010. More than 60 people were killed. Al-Shabaab said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda's leading role in the African Union force supporting Somalia's weak government in Mogadishu.FULL STORY
By Christabelle Fombu and Jack Maddox
An explosion at a bus station in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, killed at least one person and injured eight Monday, according to the Kenyan police and Red Cross.
Charles Owino, a deputy police spokesman, confirmed the explosion and said he was awaiting more details.
Initial reports say the blast killed one person and injured eight, said Carol Nduta, a spokeswoman for the Kenyan Red Cross.
The blast follows a separate explosion that police said hurt 12 people earlier Monday at a nightclub in Nairobi.
"We have not yet linked attacks to anybody as we are still investigating," Owino said.
The explosions came a day after the U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned it had credible information of an imminent terror attack. The embassy did not offer details on who might carry out such an attack but said it had limited official U.S. government visits and urged citizens to consider deferring travel to Kenya.
The attack was likely to target places that foreigners congregate in Kenya, including malls and night clubs, the embassy said.
Kenya has been on edge since it sent troops across the border into Somalia to pursue militant with Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group that the United States and other countries view as a terrorist organization. Kenya sent in troops after the recent abductions of tourists and aid workers. It blames the abductions on Al-Shabaab, which has denied involvement.
Al-Shabaab has threatened to attack Kenya if it did not withdraw its forces from Somalia.
Owino, the police spokesman, said the nightclub attack "could be Al-Shabaab or an individual. We are still investigating."
By Paul Cruickshank, CNN Terrorism Analyst, and Zain Verjee
While the world's attention has been focused on events in north Africa, events thousands of miles away on the coastline of the Indian Ocean could have just as great an impact on the continent's security.
Kenyan troops have now advanced deep into Somalia, along rutted tracks and pot-holed roads leading north from the border toward the port of Kismayo, a stronghold of al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group affiliated to al Qaeda.
The Kenyans sense an opportunity to deliver a knock-out blow against Shabaab, which has already been driven from most of the capital, Mogadishu.
The operation was launched a week ago followed a string of kidnappings of Westerners in northern Kenya, which Kenyan authorities blame on al Shabaab.
Though held up by heavy rains, the Kenyan military claimed Saturday that Kenyan forces had advanced beyond Oddo, a town ten miles up from the border, and had met little resistance so far. Kismayo is a further 90 miles north; Kenyan military sources say they plan to occupy the town before Christmas.
The ultimate goal, they said, was to work with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for no less than the complete elimination of Al Shabaab from all of Somalia. FULL POST
The U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned it has credible information of an imminent terror attack, days after the east African nation announced it is sending troops to Somalia to battle Islamist militants.
The attack is likely to target places that foreigners congregate in Kenya, including malls and night clubs, the embassy said.
The U.S.Embassy did not offer details on who might carry out such an attack, but said it has taken measures to limit official U.S. government visits. It urged its citizens to consider deferring travel to Kenya.
The warning comes after Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia to pursue Islamist Al-Shabaab militants. The terror group has threatened Kenya with retaliatory attacks, saying it considers the forces' incursion an affront to Somalia's sovereignty.