How self-confessed terrorist obtained arms from Somalia

Friday October 28 2011

By PAMELA CHEPKEMEI [email protected] and JULIUS SIGEI [email protected]

Details have emerged of how self-confessed Nairobi grenade attacker Elgiva Bwire, imprisoned for life on Friday, obtained arms after returning from training in Somalia.

Bwire, alias Mohamed Saif, converted to Islam in 2005 and later travelled to Somalia. He came back to Kenya in August this year.

After his return, his handler, only identified to investigators as Abdulatif, sent him an e-mail asking him to go collect some parcel in Eastleigh Nairobi.

Bwire said he got the urge to “do something” after Kenya soldiers pursued Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Tit for tat

“If they killed some of our members in Somalia, I had to kill some civilians here in Kenya. It was tit for tat,” he told investigators.

According to Bwire, the media had carried reports showing the Kenyan soldiers as the victors and the Al-Shabaab as the losers. He wanted to take action that would divert attention.

Abdulatif told him he had sent the grenades and the fire arms and he went for them.

Bwire decided to first transport the grenades using a Route 17 matatu, which operates between Gikomba and Kayole.

When he came for the second batch of weapons consisting of the guns,  he chose to use a taxi motor bike commonly known as boda boda.

After getting the fire arms, he says, he decided to use the grenade because it is easy to carry around and hurl it at the target.

He said he recruited some other people, including those who  carried out the actual grenade attacks at the OTC stage and at Mwaura’s Pub on Mfangano Street, Nairobi.

He said he had planned to have one grenade used daily for a total of 13 days.

He says he would even throw the grenades at his parents because he believes in the ‘holy war’.

Trained in a forest

He was taken to Somalia by Abdulatif  where he was taken to Baidoa and trained in a forest in a group of 30 recruits, including  10 Kenyans.

The six months training centred on explosives, use of firearms, how to disarm policemen and religious studies.

After training, he sneaked back into Kenya by road through Mandera and boarded a bus to Nairobi.

Bwire was on Friday handed a life sentence after he pleaded guilty to the charges of causing grievous harm to the two people in the OTC Bus stage blast.

He will serve another 15 years  for being a member of the outlawed Al-Shabaab group  and another seven years for possessing the guns, grenades and the ammunition.

“A deterrent  sentence  is called for  so as to serve  not only the interest of the public but to deter  would-be offenders,” Nairobi magistrate Grace Macharia said. A smiling Bwire told  journalists that he does not regret his actions.

Two other suspects,  Omar Muchiri Athuman, alias  Orima alias Hussein, and  Stephen Macharia, alias Mchango, were charged separately and denied being members of Al-Shabaab and possessing arms illegally.

They were remanded in custody until  November 4.