SAS operator who stormed besieged Kenyan hotel to receive top medal

SAS operator is seen speaking with another armed rescuer during hostage crisis in Kenya
SAS operator is seen speaking with another armed rescuer during hostage crisis in Kenya (Photo: AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Do you remember a SAS operator who stormed a besieged hotel in Kenya? These days, he was awarded a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross — second only to a Victoria Cross — for valor in combat.

Terorrist attack on DusitD2 hotel

On January 21, four gunmen stormed the DusitD2 hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Immediately, Kenyan Special Forces were dispatched to the scene including a SAS operator who was there as a supervisor. During the 19-hour siege, 21 men were killed including British charity worker Luke Potter.

SAS operator during terrorist attack in Kenya
SAS operator assisting Kenyan security forces during a terrorist attack on DusitD2 Hotel Complex in Nairobi, Kenya (Photo: Getty)

But, the death toll could be higher if the unnamed SAS operator didn’t kill two of four gunmen, leading to the evacuation of 700 locals. He allegedly stormed into battle after US Navy SEALs requested his help. The Sun exclusively revealed his daring involvement in the security operation, also publishing footage purportedly showing him carrying a gunshot victim to safety.

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

Last month, the operator who has served 18 years in 22 SAS, received a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. Only around 60 such medals have been awarded — for “acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy”.

A senior insider said: “This is an incredible honor and truly deserved. What this man did will go down in the history of the SAS. Yet it nearly didn’t happen after a row on the ground.”

As the body count rose a US Navy SEAL team sought out the SAS operator. Within minutes of being cleared to pounce he shot dead the first terrorist from behind a wall.

SAS operator during siege of hotel in Nairobi, Kenya
A long-serving member of the SAS is seen dragging a victim from the scene of the shooting (Photo: EPA)

The insider added: “When it all kicked off he was working with the Kenyan Armed Forces. They were being mentored by SEALs and they had jurisdiction. But there was a critical pause among the U.S. Navy SEALs as they waited for the green light to go in. They knew the score.

“People were dying, and they knew they had a man in their midst who could turn the tide. He had to go in. He got on the blower to the UK High Commissioner who gave the go-ahead and he went straight in. No hesitation, no flinching, no thought for his own safety, straight into the eye of the storm. Within minutes he’d dropped the first terrorist. It turned the tide, there was a surge of confidence through the mission.”

‘The SAS don’t miss’

The SAS operator shot dead a ­second gunman before Kenyan ­security ­forces cornered the other two in the sprawling complex. After a stand-off stretched into the night the remaining duo was killed, ending the siege, the Sun reported. As well as hunting down the gunmen, the SAS operator was pictured saving innocents fleeing the terror.

A source said at the time: “The SAS don’t miss. There’s no doubt his actions saved lives.”

Retirement and social media career

UPDATED: October, 2020

Only two years after he stormed a besieged Kenyan hotel, and a year after he received a bravery medal, a heroic SAS operator left the British Special Air Service. He quit the elite regiment after he was shunned by colleagues, according to The Mail on Sunday.

According to that, he was so disappointed by his treatment from his fellow SAS operators that he has retired from the SAS. He walked out of the regiment’s Hereford base and, started a new career on Instagram where he disclosing details about his mission using the pseudonym Chris Craighead (@christian_craighead).

So far, he has uploaded photos of his Special Operations Forces career, including the picture of him masked and studying last-minute plans before entering the besieged Kenyan hotel.

British senior defense officials have not commented officially on this situation, but some of them stressed that they are deeply concerned about the former operator’s Instagram profile. It may force British MoD to take legal action. According to their strict rules, members of the Special Air Service must not discuss their missions in public or seek to ‘cash in’ on operations.

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