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Police investigate terror cell recruiting youths in Siaya

Tuesday December 10 2019
By DICKENS WASONGA
By ELIZABETH OJINA

The government is closely monitoring the activities of a radicalisation and terrorist recruitment cell in Siaya County.

County Commissioner Michael ole Tialaal said the group has been recruiting youths at Nyadorera and that some of them had crossed into Somalia to join terror group Al-Shabaab.

"Another group was returned by security agencies from Tanzania while en route to Somalia," Mr Tialaal said.

"We are aware of radicalisation taking place in parts of Siaya and have identified those behind the clandestine activities with a view to arresting them and ensuring security."

PUBLIC'S HELP

Mr Tialaal urged residents to give police officers information that will help them deal with the criminals.

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He also stressed the need to empower youths, saying some opt to join terror groups because of marginalisation and poverty.

“We appeal to Siaya residents to be patriots and help the security apparatus combat terrorism," he said.

He spoke in Siaya town on Monday during a ceremony to present motorcycles, tents and chairs to 11 youth and women's groups across the county as part of efforts to tame radicalisation.

The items were donated by the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) and the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

EMPOWERMENT

NCTC Deputy Director Joseph Opondo said four regional development authorities will receive Sh76 million to empower youths and women.

The regions - Western, Coast, Nyanza and North Eastern - will receive Sh19 million each in the initiative dubbed ''Kenya government and European Union support towards youth empowerment''.

Dr Opondo also said that 5,000 groups in North Eastern, Ewaso Nyiro and the Lake Basin region, that are most vulnerable to radicalisation, will next year be enrolled into the programme funded by the EU.

"The groups will be supported to engage in business activities and generate income as a way to stop radicalisation," he said.

“The threat is oscillating to the lake region. We have had suspects such as Violet Kemunto from Kisii following the Dusit D2 attack [in Nairobi on January 15]."

GROUPS IDENTIFIED

LBDA Chief Executive Officer Raymond Omollo said 15 youth and women's groups in Siaya county were identified for the empowerment programme.

Dr Omollo said the project, initiated in 2017, aims to train, equip and transform youths into responsible citizens who engage in productive ventures.

“We want the beneficiaries to contribute to socio-economic development and thereby help reduce the number of youths being radicalised."

Dr Omollo said about 20 groups in the lake region will benefit from the Sh19 million. “Beneficiaries of the programme should encourage others against idleness. An idle mind is a devil's workshop.”

Mr Agumba Kagumba, of Kapiyo Model Star youth group, said youths will have no reason to join terror groups if they are empowered economically.

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