The Star (Nairobi)

19 July 2012

Kenya: Majengo Youth 'Recruiting Terrorists'

Photo: Nobert Allan/The Star
Waiting for a prayer session to start.

The UN has warned that the Muslim Youth Council is continuously recruiting and training youth to fight in Somalia and launch attacks in Kenya.

According to the UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea, the MYC, which has since been renamed Al Hijra, is based in Majengo, Nairobi and is using its havens in Somalia to launch attacks in Kenya. "Monitoring Group investigations reveal that the MYC in particular has been deploying several operational cells to Kenya in recent months for this purpose," the report reveals.

The report set to be released soon says the al Shabaab continues to represent a serious threat to peace, security and stability, not only in Somalia but also on the international scene. It reveals that MYC has links with the Ansaar Muslim Youth Centre (AMYC) in Tanzania and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen).

On January 10, the AMYC announced a merger with the MYC and designated MYC's 'Amir' Ahmed Iman Ali as the al Shabaab's representative for Kenyan affairs. "Unfortunately the MYC has continued to operate from Kenya with relative freedom, sending funds and recruits to Somalia in support of Al-Shabaab, while developing plans to conduct terrorist attacks inside Kenya and deploying several operational cells for the express purpose of launching attacks from within Kenya," the report says.

It adds that MYC relies on the ideological guidance of Islamic extremists including a radical cleric based in Mombasa, Sheikh Aboud Rogo, who is a known associate of members of Al-Qaeda East Africa. The report accuses Rogo of advising MYC to not only change its name, but reorganise its membership and finances in order to permit its mother organisation, the Pumwani Riyadha Mosque Committee (PRMC) in Nairobi, to continue funding the al Shabaab unchecked.

Rogo is also accused of supporting the Tanzania based AMYC by routinely tutoring young AMYC members who are sent to study in Majengo, Kikambala and Ukunda (Mombasa) where they are exposed to radical teachings at institutions like the madrassa at Masjid Musa, Masjid Sakina and Kanamai which have been linked to the MYC and Rogo. The report says that Rogo currently runs the Kanamai Madrassa and is believed to be a regular preacher at Masjid Musa where a number of MYC and AMYC members have been regularly hosted.

According to the report, in late 2006, members of the Tanzanian AMYC, namely 'Abu Maulana' and Omar Suleiman, together with three other AMYC members (Ali Said (deceased), Suleiman Khalfan and "S") travelled to Somalia, via Mombasa, with the assistance of Rogo and returned to Tanzania in 2007. Masjid Sakina has been listed as a place which provides financial assistance to families of terror suspects in custody by covering their legal expenses.

A senior MYC official Abubakar Shariff is reported to be in direct communication with AMYC director Sheikh Salim Barahiyan. So good is the cooperation that an MYC fighter known as "Ishaaq" who recently returned from Somalia had gone into hiding among AMYC members in Tanga, Tanzania. The MYC is also assisting Tanzanian recruits to travel to Somalia to join al Shabaab through the coordination of the fisherman Yusuf Madi (a.k.a. "Yusuf Bakar"), an MYC member in Lamu.

The UN report criticises the "climate of impunity" that pirate leaders enjoy in Somalia and abroad and indicates that a pirate kingpin has been protected from arrest by being given a diplomatic passport by Somalia's president. The report says that senior pirate leaders are benefitting from high-level protection from Somali authorities and are not being sufficiently targeted for arrest or sanctions by international authorities.

The group said it had obtained evidence that a diplomatic passport had been provided "with the authorization of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed" to pirate leader Mohamed Abdi Hassan "Afweyne", who presented it to authorities in Malaysia on a trip there in April. Questioned by Malaysian immigration, Afweyne provided a document issued by the Somalia presidency stating he was involved in counter-piracy activities, the report said.

The UN report says President Ahmed had told the group the passport was "one of several inducements" for Afweyne aimed at dismantling of his pirate network. Reuters news agency said it had obtained a letter dated July 12 to the chairman of the Security Council's Sanctions Committee in which President Ahmed dismissed the contents of the group's report as "one-sided".

The letter said the principal author of the UN report, whom it did not name, "seems hell-bent on soiling the good names of private members of the Somali people by throwing at them unsubstantiated allegations". Successful Somali pirate hijackings have been declining steadily since 2010, partly the result of intensive international naval operations and the use of private security on maritime vessels, but pirate leaders are adapting and diversifying into new businesses, the UN report said. It said that pirate leaders are now increasingly involved in land-based kidnap for ransom of foreign tourists and aid workers in northern Kenya and Somalia, as well as selling services as counter-piracy experts and consultants in ransom negotiations, and exploring "new types of criminal activity".

Meanwhile, the Kenya Anti-Terrorism Police Unit yesterday announced it was opening new police units in major counties to deal with the threats. The anti terrorism police unit headed by Njeru Mwaniki has so far opened offices in Nakuru, Kwale and Eldoret. The Eldoret office which was opened this week will be headed by Senior Superintendent Charles Mutua. Over 100 policemen are currently undergoing training at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies before they are deployed to new police stations to be established in key towns in Kenya.

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