NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Adan Garar, a suspected al-Shabab extremist killed in a U.S. drone strike in Somalia, acquired and smuggled into Kenya the weapons used by four gunmen in the Westgate Mall terror strike, a Kenyan intelligence report said. Sixty-seven people died in the September, 2013 attack.
Garar was identified from CCTV footage at a bank, where he and another suspect, Abdikadir Haret, had gone to meet a man who sold them the car used to bring the gunmen to the mall.
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that Garar was killed on March 12 when a U.S. drone attacked a vehicle he was riding in in Somalia. The Pentagon statement said his death dealt a significant blow to al-Shabab.
Garar, also known as Adan Ahmed Issaq, did not fit in the natural mold of an al-Shabab operative. He did not fight on the frontline, nor did he hold any title in the group until after the Westgate attack, when he was promoted to unit leader or commander, the report said.
The report said that before Westgate, Garar was used by al-Shabab to move people, weapons and explosives into Kenya. Little is known about his early life growing up in Somalia. But around 2012, the report said, Garar sneaked into Kenya to illegally acquire Kenyan identification papers in the eastern town of Garissa.
The report said that he was assisted by an alleged member of an al-Shabab sleeper-cell in Garissa, Abdqadir Ahmed Buul. Buul has been linked to a bus bombing in the city that killed seven people in 2012.
Officials have said that Garar returned to Kenya in early September 2013 to finalize travel and accommodation for attackers who moved from Somalia to Uganda, then sneaked into Kenya.
On the day of the attack, Garar travelled with Haret to the Kenyan border town of Mandera and sneaked back into Somalia. From there, they were in constant communication with the attackers during the siege, the report said.