How an unarmed Irish soldier rescued hundreds in Nairobi

JACK was sitting in his office in downtown Nairobi when his phone shivered and bleeped to announce the arrival of another text message, one of hundreds he receives daily while supervising the security of 5,500 oil company employees spread across East Africa.

Jack’s phone is always to hand, 24/7, as he stands ready to deal with the wide variety of crises synonymous with this turbulent continent.

The former Irish Army Ranger squints at the curt half dozen words on the screen which minutes later would propel him into a terrifying hostage drama that would make headlines across the world.

“Terrorist attack under way in Westgate Mall.”

The chilling message came from the security consultant’s colleague, another former special forces soldier who happened to be in Kenya‘s most cosmopolitan shopping mall, just a 10-minute drive from Jack’s office, when the hostage drama unfolded.

Up to a dozen al Shabaab terrorists armed with machine guns and assault rifles had stormed into Westgate and began summarily executing men, women and children.

Scrambling to his feet, Jack replied: “What? Now?”.

There was no doubt in the response. “Now”.

Twenty minutes later all that will stand between the Irishman and death will be his specialist military training – and a hint of good luck.

He will dodge bullets and exchange gunfire with the terrorists who turn a busy shopping mall into a slaughter house. The narrative of this story could easily spring from the pages of an adrenaline-soaked Andy McNab thriller. But this is the real deal, in all its blood-soaked, terrifying detail.

Eye witnesses, CCTV, text messages and press photographs all bear testimony to the outstanding bravery shown by the professional soldier and former Army Ranger during the Westgate Mall slaughter.

Jack has been hailed a hero by experts who analysed his actions – and the hundreds of terrified shoppers and staff he risked his life to rescue on that fateful Saturday afternoon. But the modest security consultant dismisses his new-found status.

He told the Sunday Independent: “I am not a hero, not at all. I just used the years of training I got as a member of the unit (Army Ranger Wing) to rescue two of my clients.

“I was doing what I am paid to do.”

Jack spoke exclusively to the Sunday Independent when he returned to visit his family in Ireland last week.



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