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Jewish man killed in Kenya attack was 9/11 survivor

  • JasonSpindler
Jason Spindler, the Jewish American man who was one of 15 victims of a terrorist attack in Kenya on Tuesday, had previously survived the 11 September terrorist attack in 2001.
by TALI FEINBERG | Jan 17, 2019

His brother Jonathan Spindler, confirmed the death of his sibling at the Dusit Hotel on Riverside Drive in Nairobi. “It’s with a heavy heart that I announce that my brother, Jason Spindler, passed away this morning during a terror attack in Nairobi. Jason was a survivor of 9/11 and a fighter. I am sure he gave them hell,” Jonathan wrote on Facebook.

“Jason was trying to make positive change in the third world in emerging markets,” his mother Sarah Spindler told NBC News. “We all miss him so much. And it’s so sad that such a bright young person is taken away by terrorism.”

Spindler was the chief executive and managing director of I-DEV International, a strategy and innovation firm that works with corporations, social enterprises, and impact investors to build business-based partnerships.

He joined the Peace Corps after the 9/11 terror attacks, and was a graduate of New York University Law and the University of Texas at Austin. He was the recipient of grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, his mother said.

Spindler spoke at conferences around the globe, lectured at leading business schools, and had advised heads of state, Fortune 500 corporations, and growth-stage businesses. He was an Adjunct Professor at Middlebury College’s Graduate Program for International Studies, and had a Juris Doctorate from New York University.

The CEO of Coca-Cola Africa, Peter Njonjo, was a personal friend of Spindler. Speaking to the SA Jewish Report from Nairobi, Njonjo said: “Jason was an active investor and supporter of the Kenyan startup space, and played a major role in raising venture capital in East African tech projects. He was very well respected and helped a lot of start-ups, linking young companies to investors. He was doing extremely well, so this is a huge loss to the startup system in East Africa.

“What I liked about him, was that he was very tenacious resilient, persistent and innovative, as raising these funds was a huge challenge.”

A man named Joshua Rugema tweeted, “Jason Spindler was an amazing guy. He loved people and Africa. Our last conversation was in the restaurant he was gunned down in. I’ll never forget it.” Another tweeter, Patrick Sieyes, said, “Jason was an incredible entrepreneur who worked tirelessly to improve the livelihoods of millions of people.”

Of the 15 victims, 11 have been identified as Kenyans, one – Spindler – an American, and one more has been identified as a British national. The remaining victims have yet to be identified.

Steve Felder, a South African expat who has lived in Nairobi, explains that the premises where the terrorist attack took place was partly a business and office park, and partly a hotel. He’s not sure why it was targeted, but possibly because security was not as strong there compared to other places (which he describes as “fortresses”), or because there are a lot of people there during the day.

He does not think Jews in Kenya need to fear for their safety. “On the contrary, Kenya is a country with a deeply religious population, and a generally strong affection for Jews,” he says. “Unfortunately, the threat of terrorism will remain ever-present. However, it is typically perpetrated against Kenyan people as the primary targets.”

Al-Shabab – the Somali-based extremist group that is allied to al Qaeda – claimed responsibility for the attack. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday that security forces had killed the Islamic extremist gunmen. The same group carried out the 2013 attack at the nearby Westgate Mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people.

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