Israeli Minister Steinitz Compares Nairobi Mall Attackers to Palestinian Terror Groups (INTERVIEW)
A day before the recent deadly terror siege on a Kenyan mall was brought to a bloody close on Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with The Algemeiner, drew parallels between the Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab group which perpetrated the attack, and the terrorist entities which threaten Israel.
The attackers, who stormed the popular Nairobi shopping destination Saturday, and held civilians hostage for days, left 67 people dead including six security officers.
“You see that the general ideology is the same,” Steinitz said, “Non-Muslims, in general, infidels as they call them, have no right to exist in Israel, in the Middle East, in Africa, in Europe and the rest of world.”
“The reports from this terrible act of terrorism were that they asked people if they were Muslims or not. They asked them to quote something from the Koran, and those who failed were shot. Those who were Muslims were allowed to escape. This is terrible.”
“This kind of terrorism is not just against Israel or America. It’s against all those who are so-called infidels or non-Muslims or sometimes even too-moderate Muslims,” he said.
Similarly, said Steinitz, “the Palestinians – and I’m not speaking about Hamas; I’m speaking about the Palestinian Authority – they still educate the next generation of Palestinians to hate Israel, with the messages that at the end of the day Israel must be destroyed, that there is no place for a Jewish entity or a Jewish state in the Middle East, that Jews are terrible creatures that corrupt the vicinity and, therefore, must be gotten rid of sooner or later – it’s those underlying messages that young Palestinians are getting, not just from Hamas and terrorist organizations in Gaza but also the West Bank.”
“Modern terrorism began to develop in […] the ’60’s and ’70’s” he said, “Those who invented it were the P.L.O., the Fatah.”
The minister declined to comment on reports Sunday that Israelis were involved in the rescue operation in the mall. The AFP reported at the time that “The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured,” but an Israeli government source speaking to Reuters said that “There are Israeli advisers helping with the negotiating strategy, but no Israelis are involved in any imminent storming operation.”
Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that two Kenyans who survived and escaped the terror attack said they were rescued by “a man they believed was an Israeli security officer.”
On a general note, Steinitz said that Israel aims to assist other countries on security matters where it is able. “Sometimes countries ask to share the experience and knowledge of the IDF, the Shin Bet or Israel police. And usually we are ready to share.”
“Generally speaking […] All democracies, all countries, should try to cooperate to combat terrorism because it’s a threat to all of us. The Israelis are ready to cooperate, not just with the United States and European countries, but also with those in Africa, Asia and South America,” he said.
Steinitz also dismissed the possibility that the part-Israeli owned mall was targeted because of its link to the Jewish state and responded to Al Shabaab’s justification for the bloody attack in which the group claimed that it was retribution for Kenyan military actions carried out against Islamists in Somalia.
“What kind of answer and what kind of response is it? You’re taking hostages and executing them, civilians in Kenya, because of some actions of the Kenyan government? What kind of justification is that? I mean, if you have something that the Kenyan army are doing, the maximum you can do is fight the Kenyan forces, but to go to a mall and kill civilians – men, women and children – and to execute them if they’re not Muslims?” he asked rhetorically.