Dusit attack suspect was a loner, neighbours say

Wednesday January 16 2019

Surveillance footage captures two suspects involved in the attack on the DusitD2 hotel in Nairobi on January 15, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY


He was a quiet man who loved his car, cats and music. He kept to himself, only interacting with his butcher and the woman he lived with. On the estate security WhatsApp group, he never uttered a word.

He called himself Farouk, but his mobile phone SIM card was registered under the name Ali Salim Gichunge.

The woman he lived with, presumed by his neighbours to have been his wife, is named Violet Kemunto Omwoyo.

On her WhatsApp profile, she referred to herself as an Al-Shabaab bride.

Gichunge was the average Joe about town, but beneath that veneer of innocence lay a schemer whose true intentions and identity were revealed during the Tuesday terrorists attack when neighbours identified a car used by gunmen to storm the 14 Riverside Drive complex in Nairobi as the same one that was regularly used by Gichunge.



The car had been rigged with a bomb, which was later detonated by bomb experts at the parking yard of the complex.

The car, a Toyota Ractis, is registered under Cynkim Investment Company in the National Transport and Safety Authority’s database.

A police officer privy to the investigations said it appeared Gichunge had not transferred the ownership of the car to himself.

Although the car is specified as being light blue in colour, it was silver at the time of the attack.

Police suspect Gichunge was among the terrorists and neighbours say the attacker with a heavy physique could be the man who had lived among them for three months.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said all terrorists had been killed, but did not say how many they were.

It remains unclear whether Gichunge was one of those killed inside the complex.


By yesterday morning, Directorate of Criminal Investigations detectives were still perusing the suspect’s three-bedroom house.

Another white car that was parked outside the residence was dusted for fingerprints.

Detectives are also trying to establish the identities of the other suspects as they piece together the events that preceded the attack.

Hours after the attack, an Anti-Terrorism Police contingent arrived at Guango and raided the suspect’s home, where they arrested Kemunto and another woman.

“Heavily armed police officers came here with almost 10 cars and made their way into the house at around 10pm. We don’t know what they found,” a neighbour said.

On Monday, just a few hours to the attack, Gichunge and Kemunto put all their household items on sale for Sh100,000, announcing on the social networking site Facebook that they were planning to “move out of Nairobi this week”.


The items included assorted kitchen appliances, a 49-inch smart TV, several beds and mattresses, a seven-seater sofa set, carpets, shoes, a fridge and a microwave.

Their neighbours at Guango Estate located between Ruaka and Banana described Gichunge as a loner who was always smartly dressed and liked to play loud music in his car, even when he arrived late.

He told them he hailed from Kiambu, registered himself at the estate’s gate as Salim Idriss, but was popularly known as Farouk.

A neighbour described him as a heavily built middle-aged man of medium complexion who liked to shave his head clean but kept a long beard, which he had dyed brown.

“He lived with a middle-aged woman, but never interacted with anyone apart from a butcher outside the gate, who sold him beef. He kept cats,” the neighbour said.

Another neighbour said Gichunge moved into the gated community between October and November last year, but was added into the estate’s WhatsApp group on November 10.

“He did not contribute much to any conversation,” the neighbour said, adding that Gichunge did not put an image of himself on his WhatsApp profile.