The SAS soldier who saved “dozens of lives” in the Nairobi hotel massacre is in line to receive the George Cross for his “remarkable bravery”.
The trooper was off-duty when he dashed to the scene of intense fighting after Islamist terrorists laid siege to the DusitD2 five-star hotel.
At least 21 people were killed in a drawn-out assault that saw hundreds of civilians trapped in the hotel complex.
A well-placed source said the SAS man - understood to be a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer - will be recommended for one of the highest medals for gallantry and likely the George Cross. Only the Victoria Cross is more prestigious.
Just two George Medals - the civilian equivalent of the George cross - were awarded last year while the last George Cross was handed out in June 2017 to Dominic Troulan for his bravery in the Westgate Mall terrorist attack, that also took place in Nairobi.
The identity of the SAS soldier is being kept secret in line with Military of Defence protocol not to name members of the Special Forces. The medal will be given secretly and with no fanfare for fear of revealing the soldier’s identity.
The senior military source said: “This man has shown remarkable bravery. He has saved dozens of lives. You can fully expect him to receive one of the highest gallantry awards and most likely the George Cross. It won’t be announced. It will be given to him secretly.”
There are fears that the soldier's extraordinary actions may have compromised his personal security because photographs and videos of him pulling civilians to safety have been published and broadcast around the world.
He wore a balaclava as he fought the al-Shabaab terrorists in a gun battle.
On Thursday police in Kenya arrested the wife and mother of one of the jihadists as they launched a manhunt for the mastermind behind the attack.
Investigators said they had been able to identify one of the five gunmen involved in the assault through a mobile telephone left on his corpse.
They named him as Ali Salim Gichunge. Police said they had detained his wife Violet after discovering that she had posted an advertisement on Facebook attempting to sell many of their household goods the day before Tuesday’s attack.
“We are moving out of Nairobi this week so it is a quick sale,” she wrote. “Prices slightly negotiable.”
Neighbours described the couple, who moved to the outskirts of Nairobi in October, as quiet and fond of cats, local newspapers reported. Police said they had arrested a total of 11 people, including Ms Gichunge’s mother Mariam.
The Somali militant group Al-Shabaab, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and adheres to a violent and rigid interpretation of Islam, on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the assault.
Over the past six years, the movement has launched numerous attacks on Kenya and is fighting a low-level insurgency in the northeast of the country close to the Somali border.
But in a statement it also sought to justify this week’s slaughter on a decision by Donald Trump, the American president, to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in defiance of Palestinian claims to a share of the city.
Tracking down the al-Shabaab commanders behind the assault will be far from easy, however. Kenya mounted an invasion of southern Somalia to hunt down the jihadists in 2011 but with little success.
Even though US forces stationed in Africa say they killed 300 al Shabaab fighters in air and missile strikes last year, the group has remained remarkably resilient.
Source: The Telegraph