Thursday, February 7, 2013

US blacklists Kenyans linked to terror attacks

Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Photo/FILE

Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Photo/FILE 

By PATRICK MAYOYO pmayoyo@ke.nationmedia.com

The US Government has blacklisted two Kenyans and a Somali over their alleged links to terrorism.

Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan from Majengo in Mombasa, alongside Somalia’s Ali Abbas Abdi have been placed on a list of individuals blacklisted under the US Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs).

Assets of such people are frozen and Americans are prohibited from dealing with them.

Msalam and Swedan had their names included in the FBI list of “most wanted” terrorists in December 1998 over their alleged role in bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Operated torture ring

The pair also had a $5 million (Sh440 million) bounty on their head, according to the official FBI website.

Their blacklisting follows the release of a report by the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative claiming that CIA operated a torture ring for terror suspects in different countries, including Kenya, following the 2001 US terror attacks.

The report said among those tortured and renditioned by the US in Kenya included Sheikh Ahmed Salim and Mustafa Mohammed Fadhil.

The press attache at the US embassy, Mr Christopher Snipes, said the United States government did not comment on alleged activities of the intelligence community.  

“President Obama, on his second day in office, issued three executive orders relating to detention, interrogation, and transfer policies of the US,” he said. 

Mr Snipes explained that in one of those orders, Mr Obama directed that, consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, individuals detained in any armed conflict shall in all circumstances be treated humanely.

The order also states that such individuals “shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or related treatment, that is not authorised by and listed in the Army Field Manual, which explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse, and water boarding”.

Close detention centres

“The President also directed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to close as expeditiously as possible any detention centres it operated. Consistent with that Executive Order, the CIA does not operate detention centres,” he said.

Last year, the US Government placed a price of Sh2.9 billion on the heads of Al-Shabaab leaders.

America appears to have shifted its focus to Al-Shabaab after dealing a major blow to Al-Qaeda operations in Afghanstan and Pakistan following the killing Osama bin Laden and his representative in East Africa, Fazul Abdalla last year.

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