Executive Summary: Interim Analysis of the 15 January 2019 Al Shabaab Attack on the Dusit Hotel and Office Complex, Nairobi, Kenya

19 February, 2019 Hotel Attacks

Below is an executive summary of the 15 January 2019 dusitD2 hotel and business complex attack sequence as of 15 February 2019. It comes from an extensively researched and sourced briefing by Muir Analytics’ SecureHotel Threat Portal team posted here. It is hotel-centric, and details on the violence that occurred in the office buildings are heavily redacted in order to focus on what happened at the dusitD2. Statements by the Kenyan government and the actions of the terrorists clearly indicate the hotel was the focal point of the attack.

This briefing is based on open sources. A final report on the attack has not been issued by the Kenyan government. As a result, there are information gaps, and several issues need confirmation. As more data becomes available, Muir Analytics will update this brief. Muir’s SecureHotel Threat Portal team will also publish a set of analyses/takeaways on the attack in short order.


Phase 1, Pre-attack Activities

There was no intelligence warning for the dusitD2 hotel

DusitD2 hotel manager, Michael Metaxas, said he had not received any intelligence warnings regarding potential attacks.

The terrorists might have checked into the hotel and/or had inside help prepping for the assault

Police suppose this because the terrorists had a large cache of grenades and ammunition stored in the hotel room they occupied.

The terrorists reconnoitered the dusitD2 hotel and office complex

The terrorists carried out a reconnaissance of the Dusit complex before the attack, say at least two eyewitnesses, one who worked in the hotel, and the other who worked on the street outside the compound.

Terrorist numbers and their weaponry/kit

There were five attackers. Four were gunmen, and one was a suicide bomber. Their weaponry consisted of AK-47s and hand grenades.


Phase 2, Initiation of the Attack, 15 January

2:30 pm: The terrorists staged up for the attack

The suicide bomber prepared to get into position within the Dusit compound, and the four gunmen arrived in a car outside the compound.

3:05 pm: The assault began

The suicide bomber detonated at 3:05 pm outside the Secret Garden restaurant after apparently talking on his cellphone with the gunmen, said an eyewitness.

3:06 pm (estimated): The terrorist assault team entered the compound

The gunmen drove their car into the Dusit compound’s driveway and attacked two guard posts and the parking lot.


Phase 3, Terrorists Penetrated the Dusit Compound, Hasty Rescues Enacted

3:32 pm: The terrorists entered the main Dusit compound

The gunmen moved into the Dusit complex, shooting and throwing grenades as they went. Initially, there was reporting of a suicide bomb in the lobby or foyer of the hotel (or a nearby structure), but this remains unconfirmed. Kenyan and foreign civilians, many of whom were armed, descended upon the Dusit along with a British SAS commando. They rescued hundreds of people from the compound in the early stages of the attack. 


Phase 4, Terrorists Entered the dusitD2 Hotel and Office Buildings

3:45 pm (estimated): The terrorists entered the dusitD2 and office buildings

The attackers assaulted the dusitD2 hotel and nearby office buildings, including, but not limited to, the Grosvenor and Hanover buildings. At the hotel, they fired into the lobby and ground floor area, including the hotel’s coffee shop and restaurants. Panic ensued. Some guests made it out of the hotel, and others sheltered in place. Hotel staff managed to help people in both of these efforts, and some were killed in the process.


Phase 5, Hotel Guests and Staff Sheltered in Place, Police Enacted Rescues

3:55 pm (estimated): As hotel guests and staff sheltered in place, the police began daring rescues of trapped guests

The terrorists appear to have taken positions in the hotel and/or office buildings and fired at people fleeing the compound. They also went throughout the hotel and office buildings hunting for victims. There are confirmed reports of police rescuing several trapped pockets of people in the hotel from at least 5:30 – 6:00 pm. Police probably continued these efforts up to the point they had isolated the terrorists in the hotel.


Phase 6, Police Isolated the Terrorists in the dustitD2, 16 January

3:00 am (and possibly earlier): The RECCE Squad isolated the terrorists in the hotel

At least by 3:00 am, and possibly earlier, two seven-man teams of the police’s elite RECCE Squad had sealed off the bottom of the hotel and located the terrorists on the 7thfloor by using a robot. They then evacuated the rest of the hotel’s 172 hostages from the building.


Phase 7, Police Neutralized the Terrorists in the dustitD2

4:00 am: RECCE Squad made their final assault

At 4:00 am, the RECCE Squad assaulted and neutralized the terrorists who were holed up in their 7th floor hotel room. The government declared the Dusit compound retaken by 10:00 am on 16 January.


Phase 8, Aftermath

16 January – 4 February: Overall casualties tallied

The death toll was 21 civilians killed, 30 wounded, and five terrorists killed.

22 January – 8 February: The dusitD2 announced its closing, repairs, and renovations

The dusitD2 hotel announced it would re-open in June 2019 following repairs, remodeling, and community events. Scores of companies in the Dusit office complex resumed operations within days of the attack, indicating the business offices were not the focus of the onslaught, in part because of a lack of damage sustained.

6 February: Preliminary insurance issues

Kenya-based GA Insurance is the insurer of the complex, and Kenya Reinsurance Corporation said it was planning to make payouts to two underwriters. Full damages, however, have yet to be assessed.

16 February: Early, conservative estimations of dusitD2 financial losses

Hotel losses regarding RevPAR could conservatively reach approximately $2 million USD. Repairs and remodeling could easily equal or triple this number.


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