Police blame Coast attacks on return of Shabaab recruits
Posted Saturday, June 30 2012 at 21:18
Police have linked the increase in terrorist attacks at the Coast to a group of youths who are reported to have returned from Somalia where they were recruited by Al-Shabaab militants to fight the Transitional Federal Government.
“The way attacks are being conducted makes us suspect locals are involved, and some of them might be those who returned from Somalia some time late last year and early this year,” said a police officer privy to the investigations.
The police revelations come exactly one week after a grenade attack at a bar in Mishomoroni that killed four people. (READ: One dead in terror attack at a Mombasa nightclub)
A day before the attack, the US embassy had ordered the immediate evacuation of all its staff in Mombasa, claiming that a major attack was about to happen.
However, police maintain that the attack at the bar was not related to the US warning and have instead pointed an accusing finger at illegal groups operating in the region.
A suspect in the Mishomoroni attacks, Athman Salim, comes from Kaloleni, Kilifi County, an area that has been identified by security forces as one of the Al-Shabaab recruitment hotspots.
In a span of two months, the Coast region has been attacked five times, leaving six people dead and several others maimed.
The attacks have greatly contributed to a growing perception of a region under siege from terror groups.
Sources at the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit said that hundreds of Kenyan youth, mainly from the Coast, flocked to Somalia to shore up the militant group when the tide started turning against it two years ago.
Last year, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya’s treasurer, Sheikh Hassan Omar, said at least three mosques had been identified as recruiting spots for various militia groups in Somalia.
Early last year, two men were arrested at Maganyakulo village, Diani, South Coast over allegations of recruiting and training Kenyan youth for militant duties outside the country.
The Sunday Nation has learnt the youth were lured with religious dogma and money, which was paid out in two instalments of Sh40,000 while still in Kenya and another Sh40,000 on arrival in Somalia.
But as the Al-Shabaab disintegrates, its fighters are now fleeing to safer havens. Foreign fighters are said to be fleeing towards Yemen and Oman while local fighters are coming back home.
And it seems the returnees are coming back with even more lethal weapons. Sources within security circles say that the Mishomoroni attackers used launchers to propel the three grenades into the club.
But Muslim cleric, Sheikh Juma Ngao, said that some clerics are still recruiting and training youth to help fight TFG forces. He complained that the police were not taking the information seriously.
“Some clerics have condemned me for revealing their illegal practices,” he said.
He said that the latest round of recruitment drive is being conducted in Likoni where he and another sheikh have been threatened for passing information to the police.