Mr Said Abubaker Shariff Ahmed alias Makaburi, who is wanted in connection with the Mombasa riots has claimed he is a target of a police hit squad.
Last week, police obtained a warrant of arrest for Mr Ahmed, who they blame for the violence that followed the killing of Al-Shabaab suspect Aboud Rogo.
Four people, including three security agents, were killed in two days of chaos in which four churches were also looted and torched.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Nation from his hideout in the coastal town, Mr Ahmed claimed there is a plot by Kenyan security agencies supported by outside forces to assassinate him.
He admitted that Sheikh Rogo, who was accused by the United Nations and the US of being Al-Shabaab’s chief agent in Kenya, was his close associate and best friend.
He also appeared to suggest that he had links with the Somalia terror group by saying that youths in Mombasa had asked him how they could get help from the rebels to avenge Sheikh Rogo’s killing.
“Youths have asked me if they can get help from Al-Shabaab,” he said. Mr Ahmed said Kenya, whose forces have been fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia since last year, should leave the Horn of Africa country alone.
The Kenya Defence Forces, he said, was leading an illegal fight in Somalia. “Al-Shabaab are Somalis. They should be left to rule Somalia ... not a bunch of people who meet in Nairobi hotels to declare themselves rulers of Somalia.”
He added that while Al-Shabaab have not armed him, the Kenyan and US governments were after his life. “We are certain that there is a hit squad targeting Muslim clerics and other Muslims perceived to be extremists.
"These mercenaries are monitoring our phones, our lives and then killing us. We believe that American, British and Israeli security agencies are involved,” Mr Ahmed said.
According to the police, Mr Ahmed incited youths to avenge Sheikh Rogo’s death through violent riots aimed at churches and Christians.
“The brutal murder of Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo has saddened us. While his death is being investigated, we will hunt down those responsible for the violent demonstrations and arrest them. They can hide from justice for now, but not forever,” Coast province police chief Aggrey Adoli said.
On Sunday, the Coast PCIO, a Mr Muasya, said police were still on the trail of Mr Ahmed and other suspects over the violence. Also in their crosshairs is Sheikh Abu Qatada, who also spoke to the Nation on Sunday.
The 43-year-old said that he kept away from the demonstrations because he expected the police to link him with whatever was happening.
“I was not there. I was at home and the only time I left the house was when I went to see Rogo’s wife who was in hospital. I was afraid that the police might also kill her.”
Mr Ahmed asked this Nation reporter to rush to Mombasa and meet him before his assassination. After almost two days of playing hide-and-seek games, his confidants led the reporter to his hideout located near a mosque.
Mr Ahmed is one of the three Kenyans on the US government Sanctions List for alleged involvement in terror activities. (READ: Obama blacklists three Kenyans over links with Al-Shabaab militants)
The others are Sheikh Rogo and Omar Awadh Omar, who is currently in a Ugandan jail, accused of involvement in the 2010 world Cup bombings in Kampala which killed 70 people.
“I earn from two flats that I have rented to 14 tenants, half of them Christians. I don’t have a bank account and no savings. So, what assets of mine did the US government freeze?” he asked.
Other than the US government indictment, on August 23, the UN Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea added his name to a list of individuals and entities subject to travel bans, assets freezes and targeted arms embargoes.
The UN said Mr Ahmed is a “leading facilitator and recruiter of young Kenyan Muslims for violent militant activity in Somalia, and a close associate of Aboud Rogo. He provides material support to extremist groups in Kenya (and elsewhere in East Africa).
Through his frequent trips to Al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, including Kismayu, he has been able to maintain strong ties with senior Al-Shabaab members.”
The Security Council also said that he was “engaged in the mobilisation and management of funding for Al-Shabaab… and preached at mosques in Mombasa that young men should travel to Somalia, commit extremist acts, fight for Al-Qaeda, and kill US citizens.”
It further added that he is “a leader of a Kenya-based youth organisation in Mombasa with ties to Al-Shabaab” and also accused him of acting as a “recruiter and facilitator for Al-Shabaab in the Majengo area of Mombasa.”
Mr Ahmed was first arrested in late December 2010 on suspicion of involvement in the bombing of a bus heading to Kampala from Nairobi. “For almost two years now, I report every Tuesday to the police, I notify them each time I want to travel and I have never missed going to court.
"But despite this, the case has not progressed much. If I am guilty, let them provide evidence and jail or kill me,” he said. He added that the US government is yet to respond to requests by his lawyers to furnish him with any evidence they have against him.
Accused of terror
“They have accused us of terror, but have refused to provide any evidence. Instead, they are now sending people to kill us,” he said, adding that nothing was proved in court against Sheikh Rogo.
Mr Ahmed defended the controversial cleric, who he said he had known for nearly a decade. He accused the police of using Sheikh Rogo and himself as “pawns in the war on terror.”
He said that the only evidence that the police had against him and Sheikh Rogo was a notebook in the pockets of the alleged bus bomber.
Asked what he thought would happen to him if arrested, Mr Ahmed said: “I know I am going to die. I know they will kill me. It’s only the date that I am not sure of.”