Al-Shabaab preys on poor youth with promises of cars and wives

Thursday February 11 2016

Al-Shabaab militants in Elasha Biyaha, Somalia, on February 13, 2012. According to new information gathered from detained terror suspects, the militia lures Kenyan youth with promises of cars and wives. PHOTO | AFP

Al-Shabaab militants in Elasha Biyaha, Somalia, on February 13, 2012. According to new information gathered from detained terror suspects, the militia lures Kenyan youth with promises of cars and wives. PHOTO | AFP 

By FRED MUKINDA
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Police say they have unearthed an Al-Shabaab recruitment network that lures youths with promises of cash, cars and wives.

They say the syndicate has roots in Mombasa and tentacles in Isiolo, Nairobi and Lamu counties.

Police say four young men arrested recently gave details of the network to detectives after interrogation.

Idris Sadalla Iddi, Mohamed Ahmed Fadhili, Issa Noor Abdullahi and Abdulhafidhi Issa Faraj were arrested last month but the court allowed police to detain them as investigations went on.

A primary school in Likoni, Mombasa is at the centre of the investigation because Fadhili teaches there. 

The four were arrested in Madogo area, near Garissa. Police say they planned to travel to Mandera before entering Somalia and joining Al-Shabaab camps.

“The syndicate is linked to Ramadhan Kufungwa. He has been on the police list of most wanted criminals. He is hiding in Somalia,” a government report says.

Kufungwa fled Kenya when his photos were circulated by police with calls for information that would lead to his arrest.

Security agents say they suspect that he donates money to the school.

Idriss stayed in the school in December.

POVERTY

The boarding school is known for admitting children from poor backgrounds and charges only Sh500 per pupil per term.

Children whose parents cannot afford the fee are allowed to study for free.

“Most of the school’s expenses are funded through donations and authorities think the help comes from Al-Shabaab sympathisers and the pupils targeted for radicalisation,” the report adds.

“The vulnerable children are easy prey, given that few people would be curious and wary of what they are taught. Investigations continue on this institution.”

Kufungwa is also wanted after investigations linked him to the June 2014 killing of Sheikh Idriss in Mombasa.

“He was also behind a spate of violent robberies in Mombasa that were carried out by members of his cell so as to raise money for Al-Shabaab activities. He coordinates recruitment of youths and facilitates their movement to Somalia as well as providing logistical support to militia in Boni Forest,” an earlier police report said.

Jeshi Ayman, a faction of Al-Shabaab has set up camps in Boni Forest in Lamu, prompting a massive security operation.

“Investigations on the four, which started earlier revealed they were in contact with facilitators in Somalia and had made arrangements to travel there through Mandera. As part of the incentive to join Al-Shabaab the boys were promised, money, cars and wives,” the latest report says.

Investigators said Fadhil and Idriss were the initial targets of recruitment.

Later on, they brought in the other two.