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Muslims press govt over Somali youth hiring

Sunday October 18 2009

A Kenyan policeman arranges weapons seized from suspected Somali pirates, in a court in the Kenyan port of Mombassa, October 8, 2009.  REUTERS

A Kenyan policeman arranges weapons seized from suspected Somali pirates, in a court in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, October 8, 2009. REUTERS 

By NATION Correspondent

Kenyan Muslims are exerting strong pressure on the country’s political leaders to state their stand on the alleged recruitment of hundreds of Kenyan youth to join Somalia war where insurgency has been raging.

The government is now asked to immediately halt the ongoing recruitment of Muslim youth from Northern Kenya to fight in the troubled neighbouring country of Somalia, citing that the youth cannot be made a spent force.

Kenya Muslim leaders' call comes at a time when reports indicate that more and more youth are been recruited from Ijara and Hola districts in North-Eastern and Coast provinces respectively, despite the government denial of the existence of the alleged undercover exercise.

The chairman of the Kenya National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF), Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi accused the government of falling into a dangerous whim of foreign powers in the recruitment of youths now estimated to be over 1,000.

Speaking to the press, the outspoken Muslim leader said they were not surprised by the government denial of the existence of any recruitment of its citizen to fight in Somalia, noting that the Kibaki regime has repeatedly made a culture of dismissing tangible Muslim concerns.

“It is not surprising to us that the government is denying an open illegal recruitment of our youth, it has been their habit over the years. They have denied the extradition of Kenyan Muslims to Ethiopia and Somalia in 2007, while the Muslims youth were later returned to the country,” he said

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The leader said the government was hideously cooperating with foreign powers for a bold stance of global Muslim victimisation.

“This is a very serious matter, we are seeing an evil design, and we are seeing a foreign hand involvement and we are seeing a collision of course between Kenya Muslims and non-Muslims” he reiterated.

The NAMLEF leader said some of the recruited youth who were duped to be employed as UN officials with a monthly payment of USD600 (Ksh48,000) and Ksh 20,000 in advance have so far escaped the training at Manyani paramilitary training camp after they learnt that they were being trained to fight in Somalia.

“Several youths who thought they were been employed as UN workers have so far returned to their families after getting the information that there were plans to deploy them in the war-ravaged Somalia to fight along with the transitional government forces,” he added

Sheikh Abdi said the recruited youth were forced to surrender their ID cards and told to claim that they were from areas in Somalia and the Somali-region of Ethiopia after media reports revealed the ongoing exercise.

The religious leader said they got credible information that the recruited Kenyan youth who were before been trained at Manyani paramilitary training camp in Coast province were being transferred to the British training camp at Archers Post in Isiolo District, Eastern Province.

The cleric warned the government to brace for possible retaliatory terror from forces within Somalia who may be angered by Kenya’s involvement in the internal affairs of the failed state.

The Islamist groups in Somalia have on previous occasions warned the Kenyan government of dire consequences, among them bringing down tall buildings in the capital Nairobi if the country sends its military to assist the beleaguered transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.