Police in Mombasa are looking for Al-Shabaab agents said to be recruiting Kenyan youth into the Somali terrorist group.
Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa said the government has a list of individuals recruiting teenagers aged between 12 and 16 in Old Town and Kisauni for training on how to launch attacks.
He explained that the terror agents were especially targeting street children, adding: “The Al-Shabaab representatives in Mombasa lure the youth with promises of salaries of Sh70,000 per month if they agree to travel to the war-torn country. They find the street children an easy target for recruitment as nobody will raise the alarm if they are taken to Somalia.”
The agents were luring the teenagers with promises of cash for their families if they agreed to be trained, Mr Marwa told journalists at the weekend, adding that there was gang calling itself “the Young Turks” masquerading as a football club although it was a terror group.
“Police should immediately arrest the leaders of this Likoni gang, which uses soccer to cover its terror acts,” he said and asked university lecturers to be wary of terror activities in their institutions.
“We have information that terror agents target students who are pursuing engineering, physics and chemistry courses for Al-Shabaab recruitment,” he said.
The official sought to assure local and international visitors that the government had stepped up security at the Moi International Airport and tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, a Kenyan who was recruited into Al-Shabaab, rising to sectional commander, has claimed there are differences between factions over leadership.
AMNESTY TO YOUTHS
The man who recently surrendered to security authorities said the differences are between indigenous Somalis, Kenyans and other foreign trainers sent to Somalia by Al-Qaeda.
The man is being held in a “safe location,” where a group of Kenyans granted amnesty after returning from Somalia are being rehabilitated.
According to an official privy to the interrogations, the man said some terrorists from Western countries, as well as Arabs, were pushing Al-Shabaab’s top leadership to pledge allegiance to Isis in Syria.
But the group was bent on maintaining allegiance to Al-Qaeda, which officially recognised Al-Shabaab as its partner a few years ago.
“Isis has been putting pressure on Al-Shabaab to announce its allegiance to them and their caliph Ibrahim al Baghdad. Al-Shabaab leaders fear that announcing this would render them irrelevant since they would owe their very existence to the caliph,” the official quotes one of those under rehabilitation as saying.
There are also claims that several Kenyan fighters have been executed in Somalia and others are being detained on orders of top Al-Shabaab commanders.
The government has offered a blanket amnesty to radicalised youths and fighters, which has led to the surrender of more than 200 Kenyan fighters.