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Nairobi mall massacre makes NPR do a 180 on Israel-style racial profiling

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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.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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42 Responses

  1. seafoid on September 27, 2013, 11:41 am

    “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.”

    There was a big mess in Switzerland recently when Oprah Winfrey was told by a Zurich shop assistant they she couldn’t look at a handbag (because the assistant saw she was black and figured she couldn’t afford it) .

    This Israeli stuff is so paranoid. There is no space for nuance in the Jewish Disneyland.

    • MahaneYehude1 on September 27, 2013, 12:42 pm

      @Seafoid: Could you, please, explain me the term “Jewish Disneyland”?

      • Citizen on September 28, 2013, 9:07 am

        “Jewish Disneyland”= an amusement park of any sort where customers are profiled and/or discriminated against based on race and/or ethnic background.

    • ritzl on September 27, 2013, 1:12 pm

      Can you imagine if the US became one big “Defamation” scenario? We’re heading that way.

      I want Israeli influence out of my life. Resist the paranoia!

      Buffalo Springfield – “For What It’s Worth”

      “Paranoia strikes deep
      Into your life it will creep
      It starts when you’re always afraid
      You step out of line, the man come and take you away…”

  2. marc b. on September 27, 2013, 11:49 am

    i’m not sure how any objective person can call the mall attack a ‘win’ for Israeli-style security. an Israeli owns the mall, and presumably had Israeli-based security protocols, with Israeli-trained security personnel, and yet according to the BBC report and elsewhere, the attackers had had to have been bringing in arms, including a belt-fed machine gun, and 100s and 100s of rounds of ammunition into the mall well in advance of the attack. sounds like a cluster f*ck of incompetence from the start.

    • marc b. on September 27, 2013, 12:05 pm

      buried in the last 3 paragraphs of a 12-paragraph article in the British ‘Independent’:

      Meanwhile, Kenyan authorities are also facing questions over whether they had any intelligence on an impending attack, which a Somali al-Shabaab chief said was a “message to Westerners” who had “backed Kenya’s invasion [of Somalia],” a reference to Kenya’s 2011 incursion aimed at crushing the militant movement.

      Kenya’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS), widely accused by politicians of failing to pick up chatter about the attack, has insisted it did warn the police and officials inside the President’s office before the Westgate siege, but its warnings went unheeded, The Star reported.

      According to the same report, a pregnant policewoman avoided Westgate after her brother, who works for Kenyan intelligence, warned her of a terror attack. “She has told police that her brother who is a NIS officer warned her not to visit Westgate that Saturday because she would not be able to run,” a senior officer was quoted as saying.

    • ritzl on September 27, 2013, 1:15 pm

      Nailed it.

    • Keith on September 27, 2013, 7:40 pm

      MARC-B- “sounds like a cluster f*ck of incompetence from the start.”

      Arguably so was 911, and look how well that turned out for the Bush administration. A national security state like Israel or the US needs terrorists and other enemies to justify its military/”security” activities, just like Zionism needs anti-Semitism.

      Speaking of predictable retaliation, how many remember that Somalia was one of the seven countries targeted for regime change under George W. Bush? Andre Vltchek comments:

      “For years and decades now, the West has been destabilizing Somalia. Kenya and Ethiopia, two staunch allies of the West in the region, are playing a deadly game, incessantly. Thousands of civilians have already died….Kenya is one of the closest allies of the West in Africa, with both US and UK military bases all over the nation, and with Israeli intelligence personnel on the Swahili coast and elsewhere….It had been common knowledge among the expat community in Nairobi that the attack against the Westgate Mall was very likely to come. Al-Shabaab had been threatening almost ever since the Kenyan invasion of Somalia, that it was ready to blow up tall buildings in the capital.” (Andre Vltchek)

  3. DICKERSON3870 on September 27, 2013, 12:20 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: The same was somewhat true of the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings.

    NRA President’s Report: David Keene on the Push to Protect Our Children [VIDEO, 12:10] –

    • IN THE WAKE OF THE BOSTON BOMBINGS, a “National Security Expert” on Fox Faux News said that the U.S. is like a 14-year-old teenager going through “security puberty”; and we must demand that our government “get on the Israeli page”! ! !
    On the Wish List from the Boston Bombings – The Israelization of America [VIDEO, 00:25] –

  4. John Douglas on September 27, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Walt has a good column in FP on “threat inflation” as a consequence of the Kenyan tragedy.
    The military/gun/pundit/security/foreign policy/surveillance complex will be all over the story. Billions in dollars to be had for the asking.

    • marc b. on September 27, 2013, 12:53 pm

      it never ceases to amaze me how the public and private security services can exploit their own incompetence as the rationale for giving them more money and authority. aaron alexis, for example, has multiple run ins with the police after unlawfully discharging a gun, and yet …

      • ritzl on September 27, 2013, 1:22 pm

        @marc b. I don’t know… Sh*t floats? Failing upward? Ask a war pundit (lib, neocon, or otherwise). Media careers seem to flourish doing the same.

        Seems to be a sign of the times. A known career strategy.

      • marc b. on September 27, 2013, 3:20 pm

        when I was stationed in Texas back in the day, the CEO of a private security firm was arrested for his involvement in a series of home break-ins designed to ‘scare’ up business for home security systems. what a humanitarian.

      • ritzl on September 27, 2013, 6:20 pm

        Ya know, it’s so common a strategy that you would think people/voters would recognize it as common, and know that they are being scammed. But then in order to know you’re being scammed, you have to have some neutral party say, “Hey wait…! [this is a pattern]” To set a threshold. To raise a red flag.

        But if all the “neutral” parties are in on the scam, it becomes difficult to recognize the pattern.

        Without knowing anything else about it, but having lived in local TX for a decade, I suspect that the local sheriff and the CEO were cousins, or something.

  5. Henry Norr on September 27, 2013, 12:20 pm

    With respect to the Israelis assisting the Kenyan military, it’s interesting to note that, according to the Kenyan paper the Daily Nation, the military were not the first responders – the police were there first and secured most of the mall, pinning down the attackers at one end of the building, shortly after the incident began. But then the army (perhaps the Israeli-trained commandos??) showed up and fatally shot the police commander, ostensibly in a case of “friendly fire.” That led the police to pull back, and

    “The pullout left a vacuum that apparently allowed the terrorists to regroup and move through the mall slaughtering many captives. It also allowed the terrorists to deploy heavy-calibre machine guns that they had not used in the earlier shootout.”

    • OlegR on September 27, 2013, 3:21 pm

      The article does not mention the word Israel or Israeli trained commandos.

      • annie on September 27, 2013, 4:05 pm

        oleg, if you open phil’s afp link it mentions them. plus the news has been out since sunday:

        “Israeli commando force joins Kenyan military storming Nairobi mall seized by Islamist gunmen”

        AFP reports from a security source in Nairobi that Israeli special forces joined the Kenyan military in storming the Westgate shopping mall, Sunday, Sept. 22, to break the standoff with some dozen Al Qaeda-linked Somali Al Shabaab gunmen barricaded there with hostages for the second day. The death toll from the Saturday shooting-grenade attack has risen to 59 with 205 people injured.

        debkafile, the only world publication to reveal the Israeli involvement from the start of the Nairobi mall attack Saturday, now discloses that the Israeli commandos were airlifted to Kenya when the Westgate mall was first attacked. Nairobi invoked a secret security pact between the two governments under which Jerusalem guarantees military assistance should the Kenyan government be threatened by a foreign force.

        This was the first time Israeli special counter-terror forces have fought Al Qaeda terrorists face to face on foreign soil. The Israeli foreign ministery refused to confirm or deny any inovlvement in Kenya.

        guess it’s not too secret anymore.

      • Light on September 27, 2013, 4:21 pm

        Why is there an Israeli owned mall with Israeli commandos in Nairobi?
        Where were the commandos airlifted from?

      • OlegR on September 28, 2013, 4:27 pm

        Annie if debka were correct in 1% percent of what they write about we would be living in a very different world. But they are not.

      • annie on September 28, 2013, 7:48 pm

        alleging AFP wrote about something might even be a first for debka oleg.

        oh look, it appears AFP did write about it:

        Shortly after night fell with the siege well into its second day, teams backed by Israeli agents moved in to end the bloodbath at the upmarket Westgate complex.

        The disaster centre, which said the assault “will end tonight” reported “sporadic gunfire” as the troops battled the remaining attackers, while an AFP reporter outside the mall heard a loud explosion as helicopters flew overhead.

        “The criminals are now all located in one place within the building… We have as good a chance to successfully neutralise the terrorists as we can hope for,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation.

        Kenyatta, who called for patience, said he had received “numerous offers of assistance from friendly countries” but that for now it remained a Kenyan operation.

        However, a Kenyan security source confirmed that Israelis “are rescuing the hostages and the injured”. The Israeli foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny its agents were involved.

        so, do you think AFP are making it up too? they didn’t airlift in? (maybe they were already there) they were not real commandos? or perhaps someone is just trying to disappear that part of the story since the ‘rescue’ results turn out so horrendously. do tell.

      • Ellen on September 27, 2013, 4:51 pm

        Oleg, that the article does not mention it is irrelevant.

        By this time it is general knowledge. Today, the NYTimes opens a commentary with the fact of Israeli ownership.

        Interestingly the above frames the attack as something we should have known about, an attack on the western lifestyle, etc.

        This is manna for the so-called security industry, which is dominated by Israeli interests. Just sayin’….

      • OlegR on September 28, 2013, 4:29 pm

        /Oleg, that the article does not mention it is irrelevant.

        By this time it is general knowledge. Today, the NYTimes opens a commentary with the fact of Israeli ownership./

        General knowledge ?
        Whose general knowledge , how does Israeli ownership of a freaking mall ensures Israeli military involvement in a far away African country where no Israeli hostages were held.
        Come on …

      • annie on September 28, 2013, 7:56 pm

        how does Israeli ownership of a freaking mall ensures Israeli military involvement in a far away African country where no Israeli hostages were held.

        good question. i’d say…it doesn’t. i don’t think israeli ownership of the mall was necessarily a key factor in israeli involvement. why do you think israeli forces were there, as reported by AFP?

    • annie on September 27, 2013, 4:30 pm

      it makes all the sense in the world henry.

      as the kenyan gov contacts the pros (jerusalem) ‘invoking a secret security pact ‘ the kenyan police ‘ secured most of the mall, pinning down the attackers’ while the pros (israeli commandos) are airlifted in.

      during the changing of the guards a slight slip up from team pro wipes out the police commando and all hell breaks loose while the pros are unable to contain the scene and the terrorist wreak havok.

      think of how lucky they are the israeli commando were able to be airlifted in so soon. it could have been much worse had the police commando not been shot and the police would have had to handle this all on their own.

      very very fortunate. npr should have interviewed the lowly police who were able to secure the place before the pros arrived too.

      • ritzl on September 27, 2013, 6:30 pm

        @Annie Stop raising questions. You make too much sense.

      • gamal on September 27, 2013, 6:52 pm


  6. ritzl on September 27, 2013, 1:24 pm

    NPR emailed to remind them of this seeming oversight. Thanks for the article.

  7. traintosiberia on September 27, 2013, 3:03 pm

    Israeli security ? Nairobi, Boston airport in 2001, Amsterdam airport 2009
    Sure they must be doing a great job

  8. bilal a on September 27, 2013, 4:38 pm

    Little public evidence of alleged Israeli owned mall company,Sony Holdings Ltd, contact person Alex Tachenberg, set to receive 6 billion from Lloyds due to mall partial collapse:

    AFRICA BUSINESS DAILY Westgate attack heralds higher insurance costs

    “ATI and Lloyd’s of London, a group of 80 UK-based insurers, were the lead players in a consortium that covered Westage mall that is owned by Sony Holding Ltd.

    Mr Otieno said Lloyd’s will absorb most of the Sh6.7 billion loss, with ATI and a number of local insurers also paying millions of shillings to settle the huge claim”

    I have tried to reach Mr Alex Tachenberg, the top man at Sony Holdings Ltd since Monday without success.

    As we all know, Sony Holdings Ltd are the developers and owners of the Westgate Mall. I wanted to get first-hand insight into the damage the Saturday terrorist attack has done to business.

    It has since emerged that Sony Holding Limited, a real estate company led by Alex Tachenberg, insured Westgate Shopping Mall through UK’s Lloyd’s market for about Sh6.6 billion

    No other web fingerprints for company outside of yellow pages it seems, westgate mall website appears pulled, including google cache.

  9. ToivoS on September 27, 2013, 7:44 pm

    If this is the official Kenya thread there is another detail of interest in the mall collapse. It is looking like an intense fire was responsible, though it is unclear who was responsible for starting it. According to well understood principles of metallurgy, the load bearing strength of structural steel is compromised at temperatures 1/3 of the melting point of steel. This is a poorly understood by most people but is a central concern to civil engineers.

    • bilal a on September 28, 2013, 9:26 am

      interesting, at what point do mattress fires cut 12 inch steel girders and bring down parking garages designed for heavy loads.

      • ToivoS on September 28, 2013, 1:52 pm

        When the heat reaches 600 deg. A slow burning mattress can get very hot even if it is an oxygen limited burn because the mattress also acts as an insulator trapping the heat.

    • tree on September 28, 2013, 2:12 pm

      The Kenyan military now admits that it caused the collapse, and that the story of a mattress fire as the cause of the collapse was not correct.

      Kenya’s military caused the collapse of three floors of Nairobi’s Westgate mall during the terrorist siege in which at least 67 people died, a top-ranking government official has said.

      The account comes before the release of findings from an ongoing forensic investigation into the attack and raises the possibility that the military may have killed hostages in their rescue attempt. An undisclosed number of people are reportedly buried in the rubble.


      The Kenyan official also confirmed that Kenyan troops fired rocket-propelled grenades inside the mall, but would not say what was used to cause the collapse or whether it was intentional. The account at least partially backs up information from another official on Wednesday, who said rocket-propelled grenades fired by soldiers created a gaping hole in the mall’s roof and caused the floors to collapse.

  10. pineywoodslim on September 27, 2013, 10:52 pm

    I have been at the Mall of America in Bloomington MN numerous times and on occasion there have been a number of Israelis selling various gadgets out of kiosks.

    Minneapolis has a large muslim population with many women wearing the hijab at the mall. I overheard one Israeli salesman making derogatory remark after derogatory remark about those women as they would pass by–out of their earshot, but not mine.

    I finally told the guy this wasn’t Israel and he should shut up.

    I wonder now if those salespeople aren’t part of security.

    • Marco on September 28, 2013, 1:27 am

      The Israeli operated mall kiosk is a ubiquitous feature of American shopping malls.

      You have to wonder – why? My area in New Jersey also has lots of Muslims.

  11. RudyM on September 27, 2013, 11:48 pm

    This Frank Lowy character, who originally opened the Westfield Mall, from what I’m reading, is quite interesting. Westfield America shared a lease with Larry Silverstein for the WTC. Must be one of them coincidences.

    More here about the enormous scale of this operation:

    Also active in political organizations in Israel:

    Australian Entrepreneur Frank Lowy will be Chairman of the planned TAU Institute for National Strategy and Policy. Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk will act as Vice-Chairman.

  12. Mayhem on September 28, 2013, 4:33 am

    Weiss takes an event which is ostensibly about the ever increasing threat to us from Islamic terrorism and in his inimitable fashion milks it for an anti-Israel slant.
    Congratulations to Israel for working together with a burgeoning African nation that is even more determined after these latest attacks to stop Al-Shabab. The Kenyans know how Israel deals with terrorism and is happy to co-operate with and take lessons from a country that manages best the dangers from terrorist elements, whose fundamental aim is to destroy their society.

    • Citizen on September 28, 2013, 9:23 am

      @ Mayhem
      The mall attack was blowback from the US/UK/Israeli–led proxy attacks on Somalia. The usual suspects pretend the terrorist attack was born in a vacuum as an aberration from normalcy.

      • bilal a on September 28, 2013, 9:32 am

        As in the joint Israeli-Kenyan storming of the Westgate Mall leading to hostages buried in rubble, was there any Israeli tactical coordination with Kenya inside Somalia?

        Scattered reports of Kenyan Massacres inside Somalia, eg.

        Somalia: Kenyan’s Massacre Against Somali Civilians Is Under Investigation

      • Mayhem on September 28, 2013, 8:38 pm

        “Al-Shabaab has evoked the Palestinians’ fight against Zionist forces, threatening retaliation for Jewish claims to Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site” – refer

        and so Al-Shabab becomes a cause celebre because of its support for the Palestinian cause, notwithstanding its radical Islamic bloody barbarism.
        Al Shabad are like the jihadists in Gaza that constantly attack Israel and the Kenyans are perfectly entitled to go after them. They are al-Qaeda proxies and to condone their efforts by negating the free world’s struggle against them is pure sophistry.

      • annie on September 28, 2013, 10:54 pm

        and so Al-Shabab becomes a cause celebre because of its support for the Palestinian cause

        really? i didn’t read that in the article. here’s your quote in context:

        The Christian-rooted leadership of the three countries is also seen by Israel as a buffer zone against the rise of Islam. With the Christian leadership of Kenya calling on the self-styled Jewish state for assistance, and the increasing moves of Israel to ally with similar governments in the region, the Somali situation is becoming viewed as a more globalised coalition of Christians, or non-Muslims, against Muslims. Al-Shabaab has evoked the Palestinians’ fight against Zionist forces, threatening retaliation for Jewish claims to Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site.

        any “Al-Shabab becomes cause celebre” links, i’d be interested in reading them.

  13. RudyM on September 29, 2013, 2:20 pm

    I suppose this won’t raise the eyebrows of those who embrace the official account of 7/7, bu the alleged involvement of the “White Widow” in these attacks does nothing to encourage me to take them at face value:–42-calls-mystery-aunt-England.html#ixzz2gGFiUwPU

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