President Obama commented about the Kenya mall attack for the first time at the United Nations today in a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan:
We are providing all the cooperation that we can as we deal with this situation that has captivated the world. I want to express personally my condolences to not only President Kenyatta who lost some family members in the attack, but to the Kenyan people. We stand with them against this — this terrible outrage that’s occurred. We will provide them with whatever law enforcement support that is necessary. And we are confident that Kenya, which has been a pillar of stability in eastern Africa, will rebuild.
But this, I think, underscores the degree to which all of us, as an international community, have to stand against the kind of senseless violence that these kinds of groups represent. And the United States will continue to work with the entire continent of Africa and around the world to make sure that we are dismantling these networks of destruction.
Some have noted that our president’s response to the terrorist attack — to which the Israelis provided Mossad support while the U.S. appears to have provided some of the terrorists — is, shall we saw, squishy in comparison to the leadership passion show by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who took office in April. Besides vowing that the terrorists would be “painfully” punished, Kenyatta has led a countrywide community effort to come together on the attacks, resulting in about 3,000 pints of blood donated by Kenyans waiting in long lines and others spontaneously bringing meals and beverages to the rescue crews around Westgate mall.
Kenyatta’s address to the nation, in part:
The despicable perpetrators of this cowardly act hoped to intimidate, divide and cause despondency among Kenyans. They would like us to retreat into a closed, fearful and fractured society where trust, unity and enterprise are difficult to muster. An open and united country is a threat to evil doers everywhere. With our values of solidarity and love for our homeland, we fought proudly and bravely to secure the freedom to lead our lives as we choose. Our choice is codified in our Constitution.
We have overcome terrorist attacks before. In fact, we have fought courageously and defeated them within and outside our borders. We will defeat them again. Terrorism in and of itself, is the philosophy of cowards.
The way we lead our lives; in freedom, openness, unity and consideration for each other represents our victory over all those who wish us ill. We are as brave and invincible as the lions on our Coat of Arms.
My Government stands ready to defend the nation from internal as well as external aggression. I urge all Kenyans to stand together and see this dark moment through. Donate blood. Provide information to the authorities. Comfort and reassure the affected families. Let us ashame the Devil and his works by demonstrating our timeless values of love, compassion and solidarity.
…We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for this heinous crime.
Kenyatta, a Roman Catholic and graduate of Amherst College, lost a nephew and his nephew’s fiancee in the attack.