Inayat Kassam: Meet the 52-year-old hero who saved lives at Westgate and 14 Riverside
If you take a keen enough look at photos of first responders during the two terrorist activities in the Kenyan capital within the past six years – Westgate and 14 Riverside attacks – chances are you will spot a short stout bald headed Indian man wearing dark spectacles and clutching a pistol.
His name is Inayat Kassam; the man Kenyans have unanimously christened ‘Hero,’ and rightfully so.
On a warm Saturday, September 21, noon six years ago, four masked gunmen stormed into the uptown Westgate Mall and opened fire right from the entrance.
They went floor by floor, shop by shop, spraying anything and anyone they came across who was there to maim and kill innocent people. At least 62 innocent civilians lost their lives in that attack and, painful as it was, hundreds more were rescued and led to safety. And Kenya’s new hero was right at the centre of it.
In a previous exclusive interview with Citizen TV, Mr. Kassam said he was at a shooting competition when his phone rang and when he answered, “the caller said, ‘Shots fired. We’re scared.’”
Mr. Kassam got into his car with fellow licensed firearm user – Peter Bonde – and off they sped towards Westgate Mall where they exchanged fire with criminals, fought side-by-side with Kenyan law enforcement, and led hundred of Kenyans trapped inside the mall to safety.
Did he ever think he would die in there? Absolutely. “At the entrance, just before entering (the mall),” he said. But does that thought keep him away from the centre of action? Absolutely not.
Which is why when yet another group of armed assailants raided the Dusit complex on 14 Riverside Drive on the afternoon of January 15, 2019, he showed up, yet again, and put his skills to use.
Mr. Kassam, in a slightly unbuttoned brown shirt, black trousers, sneakers and a pistol in his right arm, led reservists who collaborated with police in countering the gangsters and rescuing the hundreds of Kenyans and foreigners trapped inside the complex.
He has now become some sort of celebrity, after photos of his heroics were splashed all over local and international media outlet front pages following the harrowing attack.
Kenyans now know the man who has continuously showed up for them during the worst of occurrences; but just who is exactly this man, Inayat Kassim?
Mr. Kassam is the Managing Director of Scorpio Africa Ltd; a company that provides security management and training in the form of security personnel, unarmed/armed training and certified firearm training.
He also doubles up as the Kenyan Krav Maga Instructor for the Elite Defense Academy (EDA) and is certified as an Advanced Tactical Shooting Instructor.
According to the EDA website, “Inayat is a fully certified Level 2 Krav Maga Instructor, and holds the rank of Black Belt Level 1 within the EDA Krav Maga System.”
Among the classes and courses he offers at EDA include: H. E. A. T. (Hostile Environment Awareness Training), Response To Active Shooter Scenario, Blade Work Course, Weapon Disarms Course, Arrest And Restraint Procedures as well as Tactical Firearms Training.
The now 52-year-old man, who has won praises and accolades from Kenyans, is also the only internationally certified EDA trainer in Africa, outside of South Africa.
— Jeff Koinange, MBS (@KoinangeJeff) January 16, 2019
A definition of a true Neighbour. He saved lives during the Westgate attack & today he risked his life for others.
May the selfless act of Kenyans like Inayat Kassam, inspire us all to go beyond our call of duty to serve God and country. pic.twitter.com/3hC4Yfhy3A
— Laban-Cliff Onserio (@LabanCliff) January 15, 2019
This man Inayat Kassam can’t stop risking his own life to save Kenyans in time of need. The hero was at the Dusit D2 hotel to rescue people trapped inside the facility.. pic.twitter.com/uChqMFEU2B
— wanjiku wachira (@dharmasheecoh) January 16, 2019
He deserves a big round of applause! Inayat Kassam is not a cop, he is just a licensed firearm holder and an instructor. He trains people how to use weapons at shooting range. He has been involved in community policing within Nairobi for almost two decades. #RiversideAttack pic.twitter.com/tP4c5plEXA
— Mboya Kevin, HSC. (@Itsmboya_k) January 16, 2019