A call from a key security agent had woken Kenya’s top detective George Kinoti from an after-lunch siesta nap in his 3rd floor office in Mazingira Complex, Nairobi.
Like a man stung by a bee, he staggered from his sleep. His eyes dazed and half closed, he reached for the phone that he uses to transact top secret security and intelligence matters.
“George, we are under attack!” the agent on the other end barked into the ear of the director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). Before he could ask what was going on, the agent continued: “Al-Shabaab terrorists are killing people at the Dusit Hotel.”
The DCI chief frantically rang the Inspector General of the National Police Service Joseph Boinett. The police boss informed Kinoti that he had just been alerted. He was busy mobilising the General Service Unit’s RECCE Company to head to the scene to lead in the counterassault. The RECCE Company comprises specialised trained anti-terrorist personnel in GSU.
Kinoti could have chosen to sit in his carpeted and air-conditioned office coordinating the security operation on phone. But he had never been an armchair operator.
He ordered a handful of his aides to wear bulletproof vests. They jumped into an armoured police vehicle loaded with various kinds of sophisticated arms and sped off to the scene of the attack.
The five attackers were armed with AK-47 rifles. They wore load-bearing vests containing grenades and ammunition.
The journey from Mazingira House to the scene of the terror attack was tense and dramatic.
“I knew the RECCE squad had been held up in the massive traffic jam. I realised by the time they arrived, they wouldn’t save anybody. I devised a quick strategy to push my bodyguards into the building to distract the terrorists and save lives,” Kinoti remembers.
The strategy involved fighting a psychological war with the merchants of deaths to scuttle their plans. The strategy was to disrupt their offensive to defensive, he added.
“I told my bodyguards we must get into the building and confront the enemy since all of us were wearing bulletproof vests. They thought I was crazy and told me that would be too risky,” the detective says.
He adds: “They thought I was on a suicide mission. I told them if they did not want to go into the building and face off the terrorists, I would drive myself there in the armoured vehicle. Some of the bodyguards held me. But when they realised I wasn’t joking, they agreed to drive into the building.”
Eight officers – bodyguards and Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) officers – entered the armoured vehicle and drove into the building not sure they would ever come out alive. They approached from the restaurant area, where a grenade had just been detonated.
Being among the first responders, the DCI squad scuttled the evil plans of the terrorists before the counterterrorism teams arrived.
The RECCE and Kenya Army teams arrived when the terrorists had already been disrupted by the brave DCI men.
“I entered the building in the company of the RECCE squad. I was armed with a machine gun ready to save lives and defend my country,” Kinoti says.
Whence Kinoti and the RECCE squad entered the building, the DCI team gave way for the specialised officers to take charge.
For sure DCI chief is a daring man, and forever he will remain.
@The DCI Magazine