Jason Spindler, a survivor of the 9/11 attacks and former Peace Corps volunteer, whom his family says dedicated his life to helping others, has been identified as the sole American killed in a terror attack at a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya.
Officials confirmed to CNN that multiple gunmen stormed the DusitD2 compound on January 15, 2019. The attackers also allegedly set off explosives. The siege lasted until the following morning and the Somali-based terror group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told reporters at the scene that all of the suspected terrorists had been “eliminated.”
More than 700 people evacuated the building safely. But at least 14 others lost their lives, including Spindler. He was eating lunch at the hotel when the attack began.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Family: Jason Spindler Survived the Attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001
Jason Spindler, 40, was in downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001. After graduating from the University of Texas in 2000, Spindler moved to New York City. He worked as an analyst for the investment firm Salomon Smith Barney, according to his Linkedin profile.
The firm was located in World Trade Center Building 7. The building collapsed in the terror attack. Spindler was at work that day and managed to escape.
Spindler’s brother, Jonathan, confirmed those details in a Facebook post, which was first reported by the Guardian. The page has since been made private. The post read:
“It’s with a heavy heart that I announce that my brother, Jason, 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.
There are no words to describe how our family is feeling but I can say… Jason Spindler, you are and always will be an amazing son, brother, and uncle. Rest in peace—we will miss you dearly.”
His family wrote on a GoFundMe campaign (more on that later in this article) that Spindler provided emergency support for other victims on 9/11.
2. Spindler Ran His Company From Kenya & Reportedly Had Lived There For Five Years
Jason Spindler ran his investment firm from Kenya. He wrote on his Facebook page that he lived in Nairobi. British newspaper the Daily Mail, citing Spindler’s father, Joseph, reported that Spindler had been living in Kenya for five years.
Spindler co-founded the company I-DEV International in 2007 and served as its CEO. He set up offices in Nairobi, Singapore, Lima, and San Francisco. The firm focuses on helping companies in “emerging” areas get off the ground and succeed, in order to give local economies a boost. He described the firm’s goals on his Linkedin profile:
“I-DEV is a management strategy and investment firm designed specifically to address the unique challenges of operating in frontier emerging markets. I-DEV helps build and finance competitive, viable, businesses and industries in these markets globally.
I-DEV combines business and financial savvy with a deep understanding of the operating and investing environments in emerging markets to provide its clients – global corporations, emerging markets investors and local businesses – with unparalleled insight. By building, strengthening and financing SMEs in these markets, I-DEV is empowering local communities to join and compete in the global economy.”
Spindler’s mother told NBC News that her son was “trying to make positive change in the Third World in emerging markets.” She added, “We all miss him so much. And it’s so sad that such a bright young person is taken away by terrorism.”
3. Jason Spindler Was Stationed in Peru While Serving in the Peace Corps
Spinder stayed with Salomon Smith Barney until 2003. After a two-year stint working for AlixPartners, he decided to join the Peace Corps.
His father, Joseph, told News & Observer that Jason made the decision to leave Wall Street out of a desire to help people, especially those in poorer nations. According to his Linkedin profile, Spindler spent one year as a Business and Economic Development volunteer in Peru.
After returning from Peru, Spindler went back to school. He earned his law degree from New York University in 2009.
His mother told NBC News that Spindler received grants from the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help him achieve his goals of trying to make a difference in the world.
4. Spinder Loved to Climb & Made it to the Top of Kilimanjaro
Jason Spindler’s Facebook page is filled with photos of his climbing adventures. In 2013, he shared the above photo from Tanzania. He is standing by a sign congratulating hikers for reaching the Kilimanjaro Summit, which is nearly 20,000 feet high.
In 2008, Spinder climbed the side of a cliff in Vietnam without any sort of harness or safety tools. He labeled the photos as having been taken in Halong Bay.
In November of 2016, Spindler was back in the United States for a hiking and climbing trip. He posted multiple photos near Blue Diamond, Nevada.
Spindler’s final climbing adventure, based on the dates of Facebook posts, was in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. He appears to have traveled there in June of 2018.
5. Jason Spindler’s Family Launched a GoFundMe Campaign to Support the Causes He Had Been Fighting for Worldwide
Jason Spindler grew up in the Houston area, according to his family. But he graduated high school from the Hebron Academy in Maine, according to his Facebook page. His father told News & Observer that Jason’s 41st birthday was just a few days away when he was killed in the Kenya attack.
Spindler was an uncle, brother, and son. He does not appear to have been married.
His family has launched a GoFundMe campaign in his memory. The page includes the following tribute:
“Jason was an inspiration to us all to aspire to only the best, to never settle, to never take the easy road and to always focus on fighting for what you believe in – no matter the cost. Jason believed in fighting for economic opportunity, strengthening emerging markets, boosting small businesses and startups to drive greater opportunity for all…and ironically, with the intention of growing these things to combat the drivers of terrorism, warring and hatred. (If he were here now, he’d be working non-stop to provide emergency support at 14 Riverside, as he did when he responded to 9/11 in New York years ago).
He didn’t personally win this battle, but his life and work is not in vain.
We ask that you support this fund so that we can continue the legacy of Jason to strengthen economies in emerging markets to create greater opportunities. We will be supporting projects that support entrepreneurs in these economies. A cause that Jason lost his life working hard to fight for.
Jason is on the right side of history, and the memory of his achievements will be part of the DNA of a much better world. We will not allow this to deter us from a positive vision of Kenya and emerging markets.”