The Nairobi mall massacre offers a fresh reminder of Israel’s influence over western ideas about the “war on terror” and how to fight it. Israel is all through the story.
According to the BBC, the mall is owned by an Israeli businessman, and Israelis played a role in the counter-attack against the terrorists.
There are reports via the Israeli military intelligence analysis website Debkafile that Israeli security men were assisting the Kenyan military in the operation against the attackers.
AFP reported that Israeli forces joined Kenyan troops in the showdown–“The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured,” AFP quoted a security source as saying– and the Guardian also reported that Israel had a “leading role among foreign countries in aiding and advising Kenyan forces after al-Shabaab Islamist extremists attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, according to security and intelligence sources.”
Israeli officials kept a public silence about possible involvement in the mall standoff. However, a defence ministry official told the Guardian that a team from Israel’s elite counter-terrorism unit had assisted the Kenyan authorities in handling the hostage crisis.
Though the disaster produced a lot of grief, one winner of the mall standoff is Michael Rozin, a former Israeli officer who runs a security firm.
Last night Rozin was featured on National Public Radio, lecturing Americans about mall security in the U.S.
“I think still too little work has been done on the prevention side. We wait for the problem to occur, and then we respond to that,” said Michael Rozin, whose security consulting firm helped provide counter-terrorism plans for the nation’s largest mall, The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. He also served as a specialized security agent for the Israeli government.
Rozin’s a winner because two years ago, NPR did a critical investigation titled, “Shoppers Entangled in War on Terrorism,” that essentially accused Rozin of profiling shoppers at the Mall of America on the basis of race, taking them aside for questioning.
In some cases, the questioning appears to be the result of profiling — something that officials at the mall deny. In nearly two-thirds of the cases reviewed, subjects are described as African-American, people of Asian and Arabic descent, and other minorities, according to an analysis of the documents.
Dale Watson, a former top counterterrorism official with the FBI, said the mall’s reports suggest that anyone could be targeted for intrusive questioning and surveillance.
“If that had been one of my brothers that was stopped in a mall, I’d be furious about it — if I thought the police department had a file on him, an information file about his activities in the mall without any reasonable suspicion to investigate,”..
“For all the 30 years that I have lived in the United States, I’ve never been a suspect,” said Emil Khalil, a California man whose suspicious activity report was sent to the FBI after he was questioned in June 2009 for taking pictures at the mall. “And I’ve never done anything wrong.”…
Here’s where NPR reporters went after Rozin:
In 2005, the Mall of America hired Mike Rozin to lead a new special security unit. Rozin served as a sergeant in the Israel Defense Forces before working in a protective division at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. He trained mall security in the art of interpreting behavioral cues for signs of a threat. Although his unit’s approach has some of the hallmarks of profiling, Rozin dismissed any such notion, saying members of his unit merely watch what people do…
Rozin acknowledged that the vast majority of people who come into contact with his unit “have done nothing wrong, have no malicious intent.”
“They just act in a suspicious manner that obligated me to investigate further,” Rozin said. “We talked to them for an average of five minutes, and they’re able to continue their shopping.”
As I say, that was two years ago. Nairobi has helped Rozin’s reputation, and the Israeli model.