The bloody siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, ended this week with at least 70 dead and hundreds wounded. For a hundred tense hours, heavily armed Islamic radicals abused, taunted and killed hostages in an upscale shopping center much like the malls in suburbs across America. What happened there has lessons to be learned here.
About a dozen terrorists from the group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahedeen, which translates to Mujahedeen Youth Movement, executed a well-planned assault against nearly a thousand unarmed victims — or so they thought.
An expatriate British Royal Marine happened to be at the mall Saturday, enjoying a cup of coffee when the noise he recognized as gunshots rang out across the busy mall. The well-trained Marine turned out to be neither unarmed nor a victim. The London Daily Mail told how he relied on a semi-automatic handgun to provide cover as he made 12 trips to and from the mall to escort a hundred captives to safety.
In the fantasy world that liberals live in, the law-abiding with guns only make dangerous situations worse. This British Marine proved otherwise in a nation that has accepted every gun-control rule dreamed up in the fever swamps of the left. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg are inspired by the Kenyan example, if no one else is.
Kenyans have no right to keep or bear arms. Private possession of a semi-automatic or automatic military-style rifle is punishable by a 15-year prison sentence. Hunting has been illegal throughout Kenya since 1987. Handguns may be privately owned with a license that the government grants only to those deemed worthy of the privilege, similar to the carry permits for the rich, famous and politically connected in California and Maryland. In a population of 43 million, Kenya licenses only 5,000 gun owners.
Far from stopping al-Shabab terrorists, these laws made the attack probable. Disarming the good citizen empowers those who seek to achieve notoriety through mass murder.
Speaking to the United Nations on Tuesday, President Obama called this by its rightful name, terrorism, a refreshing change from his preference of downplaying jihadist assaults as “workplace violence.” “In Kenya,” said Mr. Obama, “we’ve seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have been affected. In Pakistan, nearly a hundred people were killed by suicide bombers outside a church. In Iraq, killings and car bombs continue to be a terrible part of life.”
This administration refuses to recognize the role of radical Islam in motivating terrorism by gunfire, and the West ignores this at its peril because, as al-Shabab promised on Thursday, the attack on the mall in Nairobi “was just the premiere of Act 1.” We must do everything to make sure this show does not go on.