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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kenya attack: Was US security team inside mall? Harvard grad Bendita Malakia says she was rescued by 'Americans'

  • Harvard educated, World Bank lawyer Bendita Malakia was rescued on Saturday by an 'American security team'
  • The South Carolina resident was eating with a friend when the terror attack began at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya
  • They were rescued after spending five hours hiding in a staff room at one of the stores in the upmarket mall
  • Escaped with 15 others and her American rescuers under a hail of bullets
  • Another survivor, Pennsylvania-born Nick Handler was at a cafe with his daughter, Julia, when the siege began Saturday and they had a harrowing escape
By Helen Pow and James Nye
PUBLISHED:  25 September 2013

An American woman who was trapped inside the Nairobi mall as terrorists ran amok claims she was eventually rescued by an 'American security team'.
Rescued By Americans: Bendita Malakia
survived the attack on the upmarket
Westgate mall in Nairobi after being
brought to safety by an 'American
security team'

That is according to Bendita Malakia, the Harvard-trained lawyer who was caught up in the siege and hid along with 15 others in a store inside the mall for five hours before the armed men arrived to lead them to safety.

Thirty-year-old Malakia, who is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, recounted the frantic scene tonight in an interview with NBC News as her rescuers bluntly told her, 'If you guys want to get out, we understand it's dangerous, but this is probably your best shot. If you don't get out now you may not get out.'

Rushing to the exit, accompanied by the armed security men who she believed were from the United States, two grenades thrown from only 30-feet away detonated near to them, but thankfully for Malakia she escaped and returned home to her parents on Monday.

While there has been no official confirmation of any direct American involvement in the stand-off between the heavily-armed militants from the Somalia-based al Shabaab and Kenyan Defence Forces, the statement from World Bank employee, Malakia, seems to suggest there was.

Scroll Down for Video
Foreign Intervention: Security officers secure an area inside Westgate 
Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013 (these are not the American security forces reported to have been operating inside the mall according to one witness)

Fleeing: Armed police guide an unknown woman carrying a child to safety at Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013

Indeed, on the second day of the four day siege in Nairobi which claimed the lives of at least 67 people and injured over 200, there were reports from French press agency AFP that Israeli security forces were actively aiding Kenyan forces.

And as the attack carried on to its final conclusion, British MI6 agents were also reported to be providing assistance to their Kenyan counterparts.

However, it is not known who the 'American security team' who came to Malakia's rescue were working for or what capacity they were operating under.

Kenyan officials have acknowledged that Israeli and American security personnel have taken part in planning the operation to retake the complex and provided logistical support according to the UK's Independent newspaper.

Chillingly for Malakia, she was almost killed within moments of the mall attack's initial onslaught and only survived because she moved seats at the restaurant she was sitting in with a friend.

Deciding they didn't like their seats they requested to move and then suddenly their revelry was broken by the sound of explosions and gunfire.

Harvard graduate returns home from Nairobi nightmare

Terrifying: A picture issued 23 September 2013 shows armed men checking a cafeteria inside the Westgate shopping mall after the shootout on Saturday. It's not clear if this is the cafe where Mr Handler was sitting...