international incidents

NYPD Kenya Report Apparently Sparked an International Incident

An image grab taken from AFP TV shows civilians being evacuated from a shopping mall following an attack by masked gunmen in Nairobi on September 21, 2013. Masked attackers stormed the packed upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi, spraying gunfire and killing at least 59 people and wounding 175 before holing themselves up in the complex.
Photo: Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty Images

At this point, it’s been pretty well established that the NYPD has its fingers in a lot of pies. But it came as something of a surprise in December to learn that one of those pies was in Kenya, where the department sent detectives during the Nairobi mall shooting. The department’s report, which said the four people who were responsible for the actual shooting had escaped alive, has apparently been causing an international incident ever since. Murray Weiss, who writes the “On the Inside” column for DNAinfo, reports via unnamed sources that the Kenyan authorities (who vehemently denied the NYPD’s findings) are so mad about the report they’ve cut off communication with the U.S. State Department.

That the report annoyed the Kenyans is nothing new. Just days after it went public, the Associated Press reported that it “angered the Kenyan government for suggesting the four gunmen from the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab may have escaped.” The U.S. government also distanced itself from the findings. “That report has no connection with any official U.S. government reporting. It was not shared with us and we don’t share the conclusions that were in the report,” Assistant Secretary of State Linda Greenfield-Thomas told the AP.

But Weiss’s sources said the damage it caused has still not been contained.

The Ambassador and the entire diplomatic community were totally caught off guard,” a source said.

“They tried desperately to explain to the Kenyans that the report was not the opinion of the U.S. government and that it was only wild remarks by police in New York, but the Kenyans would not hear anything of it.”

They did not care about the distinctions that were being drawn, all they knew was that it came from the Americans. They were beyond angry because they had responded well to the attack, and it came at a very sensitive time in the investigation.”

“(We) have been trying to repair the damage ever since,” another source said.

The FBI is still at it. On Friday, its legal attaché in Nairobi, Dennis Brady, denied the report again on the bureau’s website:

We believe, as do the Kenyan authorities, that the four gunmen inside the mall were killed. Our ERT made significant finds, and there is no evidence that any of the attackers escaped from the area where they made their last stand. Three sets of remains were found. Also, the Kenyans were on the scene that first day and set up a very secure crime scene perimeter, making an escape unlikely. Additionally, had the attackers escaped, it would have been publicly celebrated and exploited for propaganda purposes by al Shabaab. That hasn’t happened.

If things really are as bad with the Kenyans as Weiss’s report suggests, they probably aren’t going to be too impressed that the NYPD has a new commissioner. Bill Bratton, for his part, has said he’s open to keeping the department’s International Liaison program in place, but he hasn’t yet decided exactly what to do with it.

NYPD Report Sparked an International Incident