Dateline | November 22, 2013
>> for more than four hours, katherine walton , her girls, and the kenyan woman helping them huddled in a hiding space barely bigger than a bathtub. closed off from the outside world , katherine didn't know she was part of a terrorist attack . all she knew was that gunmen were canvassing the mall. shooting at everyone. and now, a man with a gun was creeping toward her.
>> you were under that table for hours. at some point -- you hear something, you see something.
>> i thinkhere was a little bit of commotion. and the kenyan woman said the cops are here.
>> but it wasn't the police. it was a ykenyan man, the businessman and father of four, received a text message from his brother earlier that morning.
>> the message was very brie it read, at westgate. terrorists. pray for me.
>> abdul haji bolted to the mall and was stunned by what he saw when he got there. carnage everywhere. he w terrified for his brother who works for the kenyan intelligence service and had received death threats from al-shabah, the same terror group now attacking the mall.
>> at this point in time the magnitude of the situation dawned on me.
>> reporter: security forces were just arriving. were just arriving. and abdul who is licensed to carry a gun decided in an instant to join them. they entered the mall from the parking garage on the top floor. abdul any brother was in the mall not far from katherine walton and her girls on the main floor. heas hiding in a bathroom, abdul worked his way done to the main floor and as he did, his brother managed to escape.
>> i reached my phone, to try to call, call him. i see this message on my screen. saying i am out. i am safe. please comout.
>> but abdul haji didn't come out, despite the scene, blood, bodies. smell of smoke, constant gunfire. he decided to stay and help. abdul searched through the mall looking for victims. then he made a discovery that shocked him.
>> i looked down and i see somebody hiding behind a table. it was a lady. she looked very scared. and i'm thinking -- sunny whe was in the middle of the cross fire . katherine spotted abdul , and sensed he wasn't a teat. how did you know they weren't terrorists?
>> they weren't carrying the large guns we had seen. that the terrorists had. with just a few word between them, katherine walton and abdul haji quickly coordinated an exit strategy .
>> we opened fire toward the door to scare the terrorists away. then it was time.
>> then we hold fire. then, then i told the lady now. and sudden lely this young girl appears out of nowhere. and i just call to her to run toward me. she starts running. and immediately i am thinking, what a brave girl.
>> when porsche got up and ran, d you have a moment where you thought, oh, my god --
>> i think i realized it was precarious, but i was calls trusting that if thewere telling us to run -- that it was safe.
>> for katherinet was a gigantic leap of faith . after shielding her daughters for 4 1/2 hours, she knew that to save them, she would have off to let them go. the image of 4-year-old porsche , running to abdul haji was one no one would soon forget. katherine wasn't far behind . they weren't alone. these images show the terror on the faces of others being rescued by the police in the same moments. their desperation to be free. in north carola, phillip got a phone call from his business partner , eric hirschman.
>> i got confirmation from eric that he was standing there with them. and that they were all safe.
>> reporter: your whole family?
>> yeah. i broke down and cri. yeah. then it -- then, you know, then you can let go. you know then you can just kind of -- you can collapse.
>> later, a picture followed. his wife, and children, trapped in that mall for hours in terror, were now in the safety of a friend's house together.
>> simply the most precious thing i could even imagine to see all of them sitting there and in safety and knowing that they had, they had come through it.
>> reporter: phillip grabbed the first flight back to kenya. must have felt really good when heap got o he got off the plane?
>> very good. as a mom when dad is not around you. feel you have to keep it togeth. be strong. the kids were excited to s him. they had been asking. they were relieved to finally be able to touch him and hug him and, and, have that extra security.
>> these exclusive images show the devastation and destruction of the west gate ml, ravaged by a siege that dragged on for four days. terrorists with links to al qaeda claim responsibility and the kenyan government says at least 67 people died. for the survivors, it's been difficult to make sengs se of it all. to move on. ith wamboaent me, hugged her husbd and two days aer the attack, there was cause for celebratioand time for reflection.
>> for being alive . for our children being alive . i am grateful to be reunit with my husband. i never thought i would see a second anniversary. we did. this incident has brought us more closer. we don't want to leave each other's side.
>> reporter: faith a her children were reunited with the police officer who reached out to her on that terrible day. grateful, he risked his life to save theirs.
>> reporter: the waltons too, are gratef for friends, new anold. especially young porsche . who beamed when we showed her a picture of her rescuer on a smart phone . is that mr. haji . what did he do?
>> he saved us.
>> reporter: he saved you've! heaved you.
>> good, how are you?
>> nice to see you.
>> reporter: three days after the worst day of their lives, the waltons were reunited with their hero. abdul haji himself the father of a 4-year-old dghter and a muslim. it is not lost on him that he is now forever linked to a christian family who chose to live in kenya.
>> that's what humanity is about about. it happened i was a muslim. they were christians. at that time what i was seeing was a little girl and her mother. i was not steeing what the religion was. as we have been able to tell the story, spend time with haji to see the courage of a man like that is an inspiration for me.
>> reporter: at 14, blez walton has a new perspective.
>> reporter: you have seen the worst of humanity and the best of humanity.
>> yeah, same day, just a miracle to deal with both of thosen one d.
>> reporter: for katherine and her children, as dismal and dark as the events in that mall were, she refuses to do anything but grow and be positive for herself and her family.
>> i don't want hem to come out of this in hate or be angry about what happened.
>> reporter: it would be easy to be angry.
>> it would be very easy to be angry. i don't want them to see the bad part of it. i want them to come turn that bad situation into something positive.
>> what will you tell the girls when they get older?
>> i think i will tell them that they were brave. you know? that we were in a bad situation. but they were so good. that's what i tell them now. when i hug and kiss them. i just say, you are just my brave girls. you are so, i just can't believe you you, are