The terrorists behind the Nairobi westgate shopping centre massacre are feared to have escaped capture by fleeing like “sewer rats” through an undergroud tunnel.
Security services are probing claims the al-Shabaab militants behind the Westgate attack slipped into the mall’s sewage system and fled by travelling half a mile in knee deep sludge.
It is here many of the terrorists are believed to have surfaced then slipped away…leaving a hard core group inside the mall to complete their slaughter.
A source close to the investigation said: “They escaped like sewer rats. The terrorists would have been able to pass through the underground tunnels at a rapid pace and surface almost unnoticed.
“We are dealing with a highly organised outfit. The operation was planned with military precision, nothing had been discounted.”
The darkened tunnel continues for more than two miles across Nairobi, leaving the gang behind the attack ample opportunity to flee the scene before Kenyan troops arrived.
Unbelievably, it is alleged that Kenyan investigators didn’t know of the escape route until at least 72 hours after the horror unfolded.
Details of the gang’s escape route comes as it emerged a sixth British person had been killed in last Saturday’s attack.
Up to 150 people are feared to have died in all with a further 62 being reported as missing in the sickening terror hit.
Those killed, injured and missing were remembered with a minute’s silence as Government officials, police, soldiers and terroism experts continued to work at the scene.
The terror gang planned the operation meticulously, studying plans of the mall for months and even hiring a shop to store a deadly arsenal of weapons including huge chain guns, rocket propelled grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Specialist officers are still investigating whether white widow Samantha Lewthwaite was among those who took part in last Saturday’s attack.
Security services are probing claims Lewthwaite, 29, now the world’s most wanted woman, fled the scene moments after blasting her way into the shopping centre with up to 30 crazed al-Shabaab militants.
She is suspected of directing the gang to slaughter innocent women and children.
Lewthwaite, from Aylesbury, Bucks, is understood to have been “ghosted” out of the east African country within hours.
Intelligence sources are investigating whether she travelled to neighbouring Somalia where she is being sheltered by shadowy al-Shabaab leaders.
The former British soldier’s daughter was last week made the subject of an Interpol “Red Alert” as the world’s security services hunt for her.
Survivors of the bloodshed have claimed they saw a white or “pale skinned woman” holding a gun and directing militants in Arabic.
It is not known whether Lewthwaite is among the fanatics who were killed in the siege, but the latest development and supporting witness statements suggests she may have been inside the mall before escaping.
Another senior source said: “Lewthwaite could be anywhere. She has evaded capture before and may have done it again. The world must find her before it is too late.”
In another dramatic day of developments, a car believed to be connected to the terrorists was yesterday revealed to be packed with explosives in boxes.
A silver saloon Mitsubishi parked at the entrance of the mall also had petrol poured inside it.
Investigators claim it is “a miracle” it never exploded.
Bungling Kenyan investigators had previously dismissed the car for nearly a week until it was pointed out as potentially significant by foreign detectives.
Inside the car were several sim cards, grenade pins, bullets, rifles and shredded paper believed to be plans of the building and operation.
A source close the investigation said: “What the investigators now believe is that the terrorists wanted to explode the car when terrified shoppers starting to run for their lives.
“Once people started the stampeded the terrorists wanted to detonate the bomb started so it could have had maximum effect by slaughtering hundreds more people.
“For some reason the bomb did not go off. The results could have been utterly catastrophic if it has successfully detonated. We could have been easily been dealing with more than 1,000 deaths. The modus operandi of these animals is completely barbaric.”
Sources have indicated the tactics employed by the attackers could only be equalled to those used by “Al-Qaeda terror squads”.
The source added: “It is by sheer luck or a miracle that the attackers were committed to being inside the mall when they realised the bomb had failed. There are no winners in this carnage, but it looks like it could have been even worse which is impossible to believe.”
The Sunday Mirror can reveal Kenyan security services were warned more than a year ago of an attack in the capital city on the exact date of the Westgate siege.
Leaked documents have emerged suggesting the National Intelligence Service had “credible evidence” last September concerning a “Mumbai style attack” on high profile targets including the Westgate shopping mall.
The 20 page dossier details terrorist plots and activities including a direct warning of a “terror plot in Nairobi between September 13 and 21, 2013”.
The Westgate terror siege was executed on Saturday, September 21.
The leaked briefing suggests the intelligence report was seen by senior ranking officials, including Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The revelation will heap more pressure on senior officials who have been heavily criticised after releasing conflicting statements during and after the siege.
The intelligence report, dated exactly a year before the Westgate siege – September 21, 2012 – indicated at least three known terror suspects were in Nairobi planning suicide attacks.
Specific intelligence pointed to the terror suspects believed to be in possession of two suicide vests, 12 hand grenades, two AK47 rifles and have already surveyed two targets”.
The intelligence report further advised that the suspects had at least one chain belt GMPG gun, hand grenades and an unknown number of bullet proof vests.
It is not known if this information was investigated further but the revelations will undoubtedly raise questions
However, it has emerged that one of the suspected leaders of the massacre may have been trained by the British military.
A Muslim convert, known as Omar, was killed at the end of the four-day Westgate siege by police and his former comrades in the Kenyan special forces. Anti-terror officers are combing through records of special forces soldiers who left the Kenyan army around 2005 – and those who received specialist training from the British.
The same report indicated the suspects were “being assisted by Sheik Hassan alias Blackie of Majengo and Omar Ahmed Ali alias Jerry”.
Security services are urgently investigating the two pieces of intelligence to see if they are connected.