— By Domani Spero
On October 15, the U.S. Embassy in Uganda issued a security message concerning a “possible Westgate-style attack” in the capital city of Kampala. The mission says it is assessing “reports” that such an attack “may soon occur” in Kampala but also says there is “no further information” on timing or location of this attack.
Below is an excerpt from the security message:
Possible Westgate-style Attack in Kampala
October 15, 2013 | U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala continues to assess reports that a Westgate-style attack may soon occur in Kampala. Embassy officials are sharing all information with the Ugandan authorities. At this time, there is no further information on timing and/or location of this attack.
The Embassy will continue to alert U.S. citizens to any credible, specific information about this and any other potential threats. We again take this opportunity to remind the community to exercise vigilance and to avoid public venues that attract large crowds.
Following the deadly attack in Kenya, Uganda Police have reportedly taken over security at key public places, especially shopping malls in Kampala. Presumably, Somalia’s al–Shabab responsible for the Westgate attack also read the news. In early October, local news reported that Police has received “credible information indicating that wanted terrorist Andreas Martin Mueller alias Ahmed Khaled,” of German origin and reportedly connected with Al-Shabab have entered the country. Uganda has a large expatriate population so there are potentially other soft targets in the country besides shopping malls.
This made the Daily Press Briefing, of course:
QUESTION: It doesn’t seem to be particularly well-written; at least, it leads one to the conclusion that – the last sentence is something like, “There is no further information about the time or venue of the attack.” Does the United States actually have credible and specific information that some group is plotting a Westgate Mall-style attack in Kampala? Or is this just kind of you’re aware of that there is a general buzz about the possibility that it could happen?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to spell out the specifics of it and its meaning. Obviously, we put out the statement because —
QUESTION: Well —
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: No, no.
MS. PSAKI: We put out the statement because of our concern and because of information available, but in terms of the specificity of that, I’m not going to outline that.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, the last line of – the last line of before it gets into the —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — the basically the B matter about registering and stuff, do you have it there?
MS. PSAKI: I thought I did. I don’t think – I can’t find it right now, but I thought I had it.
QUESTION: All right. Well, it —
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
QUESTION: — speaks of not a threat, but it speaks of an actual attack. And I’m just curious as to – was that poorly written, or is it just a – is this is a threat that you’re aware of, or is there an attack that you know is going to happen?
MS. PSAKI: I will see if there’s more we can provide. These things are written very specifically for reasons, so —
QUESTION: Yeah. Except that since there wasn’t – hasn’t been an attack yet, it seems to be not written well.
MS. PSAKI: Clearly, when there’s a concern we provide information to American citizens.
QUESTION: But I’m not even sure that there is a concern. It doesn’t say that you are concerned by information. It just talks about the possibility, as if it erupted from thin air – as if it erupted from thin air. So I’m just wondering if there is more to it; and if there is, could you tell us what it is?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
The full DPB is here.
- ‘Westgate-Style Attack’ Looms for Uganda? US Issues Warning (abcnews.go.com)
- Uganda police hunts for German terrorist (sudantribune.com)
- Uganda on alert after Kenya terror attack (sudantribune.com)
- Psaki Cannot Say if There Is an Impending Westgate Style Attack in Uganda (freebeacon.com)