Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenyans Hire Lawyer Over U.S. Sanctions

Nairobi — Three Kenyans who were slapped with sanctions by the US government last week over terrorism allegations have now instructed a lawyer to seek for more information from Washington.

Lawyer Mbugua Mureithi announced Tuesday that he has instructions from Sheikh Aboud Rogo, Abubakar Sharif and Omar Awadh to intervene in the matter.

"My instructions right now are to ask the government of Kenya to intercede on behalf of these Kenyans, but will they? Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs intercede on behalf of the three Kenyans to ask the US for further information, for clarification on these freezing orders of assets that are non existent?" the lawyer said.

He criticised the Kenyan government for failing to protect its citizens and intercede on their behalf, even when their rights are blatantly violated.

"I think there is a failure of leadership when you allow such kind of extreme things to happen on your nationals and you don't respond," he said, adding, "The government of Kenya has allowed itself to be treated as if it were not an equal sovereign State!"

He said he now fears for the lives of the three after the US announced that it had frozen their assets for alleged involvement in Al Shabaab activities.

"Are they preparing Sheikh Aboud Rogo Mohammed and Abubakar Sharif for drone attacks, are they preparing them for assassination by FBI? Because Sheikh Aboud Rogo and Abubakar sharif are walking around in Mombasa today, laughing off the freezing orders," he said. "What do we expect to happen to them next?"

The US Treasury Department said the sanctions, freezing any US-located assets and forbidding any US business or individual from having dealings with those sanctioned, were aimed at helping halt the conflict in Somalia and efforts to dismantle Al Shabaab.

Other alleged backers of Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels in Somalia are two Eritrean government officials and a Sudanese national.

"The United States is determined to target those who are responsible for the ongoing bloodshed and instability in Somalia," said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The Treasury named Eritrean colonel Tewolde Habte Negash as an intelligence officer who "funnels money to" groups opposed to Somalia's struggling transitional federal government.

"Col. Negash was the principal architect of the government of Eritrea's relationship with al-Shabaab in Mogadishu in 2006, and he has been the principal coordinator of financial and logistical support to a number of armed groups, including al-Shabaab, since 2004."

The other Eritrean is Col. Taeme Abraham Goitom, named as a key player in the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, which is also fighting the transitional federal government.

A third figure is Suhayl Salim Abd-El-Rahman, also called Abu Faris, whom the Treasury said was a "Somalia-based Sudanese extremist" who aids foreign fighters that want to join up with the Shabaab.

Kenyans Aboud Rogo Mohammed, an Islamic cleric; Omar Awadh Omar and Abubaker Shariff Ahmed were also named as important facilitators and recruiters for Shabaab.

Omar is jailed in Uganda awaiting trial for his alleged role in the attack on World Cup fans watching a match in Kampala on July 11, 2010. Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which left 74 dead.

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