Kenya’s Aviation Authority (KAA) on Monday dismissed claims of imminent terror attacks targeting major airports in the country after a leaked intelligence memo, warning airport managers of impending airborne al-Shabab suicide bombings, went viral.
The intelligence memo was released by Kenyan media on Sunday evening. The internal document written by KAA Security Manager Eric Kiraithe warned that Shabab is planning to attack Kenyan airports.
According to the memo, the Somali-based militants with ties to al-Qaeda have trained 11 suicide bombers to blow themselves up in Kenyan airport facilities. The suicide bombers will reportedly mask as passengers of domestic Kenyan flights and blow themselves up upon landing. The attacks are expected to occur in early March, according to the memo.
However, KAA Acting Manager Yatich Kangugo dismissed the memo saying the information in the secret document had not been verified before it went viral.
“We wish to inform the general public that the aviation industry is very sensitive to all security matters. We take proactive action on all intelligence information, however, frivolous it may seem, “Kangugo said. “KAA is aware of the prevailing global terrorism threat by among others Al-Shabaab who have issued public threats against Kenya.”
“The public is urged to maintain vigilance and inform law enforcement agencies of any suspicious activities as they go about their daily lives,” Kangugo said, adding that security at Kenya’s major airports has been increased and placed on high alert.
The move to raise the threat level to high alert is said to have nothing to do with the leaked memo. According to Kangugo, the decision was made “in conjunction with all other national security organs which have increased vigilance to counter any potential threats.”
Reports indicate that security has since been intensified at the two principal airports in Nairobi – Moi International Airport and Jomo Kenyatta International.
According to CNN, security officials are focusing their attention on the terminals for domestic flights – planes traveling to and from Somalia reportedly use Terminal 2 at Nairobi’s airport.
The warning comes days after al-Shabab posted a video online claiming to have fighters in Kenya willing to carry out attacks. The threat also comes weeks after a suicide bomber took a bomb concealed as a laptop into a commercial plane in Somalia. The terrorist detonated the bomb moments after the Daallo Airlines flights left Mogadishu International Airport.
The explosion tore the plane’s fuselage, creating a hole which reportedly sucked the suspected terrorist to the ground. Two other passengers sustained injuries in the blast, which reveals the increasing sophistication of terror attacks.
Photo: Alexander Johmann/Flickr