28 August 2012

Kenya: Aboud Rogo Fact Box

Photo: Elkana Jacob/The Star
Controversial cleric Aboud Rogo has been shot dead in a drive-by shooting. Rogo had been accused of of fundraising for al Shabaab activities, facilitating travel of youths from and into Somali, and equipping them with skills on how to avoid detection by the Kenyan police.

Aboud Rogo was born in Siyu Island of Lamu county in about 1968. He got his basic madrassa education in the island but dropped out to try business activities ranging from fishing, poultry keeping and running small shop in the area. He relocated to Mombasa in 1989.

In the 1990s during the clamour for the registration of Islamic Party of Kenya, Rogo served as a youth activist operating from Kongo Mosque in Likoni and participated in the street demonstrations.

In 1998 security agencies suspected him of playing a peripheral logistical role in the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi. He married Khaniya Said Saggar Said, the daughter of a prominent terror suspect. Four years later, in 2002, Rogo was arrested in connection with Kikambala hotel bombing together with the his father in law, Said Saggar Ahmed, Kubwa Mohammed Seif and Salmin Mohammed Khamis.

In May this year, Attorney General Githu Muigai said that the government lost the case against the Kikambala suspects because key prosecution witnesses were frightened to testify. Their release in 2005 coincided with a government crackdown on Muslim radicals. Some were deported and others left the extremist groups creating a leadership vacuum.

Aboud Rogo then established contacts with groups in Somalia and used his madrassa, Sirajul Munir in Mtwapa, to recruit Kenyan youths to Somalia. Last year the Council of Imams and Preachers identified his mosque, Masjid Musa in Majengo, as among three recruiting youth to join the Al Shabaab.

The recruits were lured with religious promises and around Sh80,000 each. The youth were also offered military training that would be useful in liberating the coastal land from foreigners. This promise proved very appealing among Digo youth and the Revolutionary Republican Council (the precursor of the Mombasa Revolutionary Council) leadership in south coast.

In 2007, Rogo, disheartened by the defeat of Islamic Union Courts in Somalia by the Ethiopian forces intensified his indoctrination of Muslim youths with a weekly lecture at his Masjid Musa in Mombasa. The lectures portrayed the Somalia war as the ultimate jihad where anyone who died will be a martyr.

Among the fatwas he issued was that it was haram (forbidden by Islamic law) to work for the government of Kenya. He also produced CDs and other materials praising the al Qaeda leadership. Rogo visited Somalia in 2009 where he reportedly received military training from foreign jihadists in Somalia. Prior to his death, there was speculation that Rogo was working with foreign secret services despite preaching radicalism.

Rogo was placed on a US sanctions list in July for "engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia". The UN Security Council imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on him at the same time and accused him of being the "main ideological leader" of Kenya's al-Hijra group, also known as the Muslim Youth Center, which is viewed as a close ally of al-Shabaab.

Rogo and Samir Khan had been questioned over their alleged involvement in the recruitment of Kenyan youth to join the Al Shabaab as well as weapons including grenades which police believe were among those used in the June bombing of a night club in Mombasa and churches in Mtwapa. In April, Samir Khan's badly mutilated body was found in Tsavo forest, hundreds of kilometres from where he and a friend were abducted as they traveled in a bus.

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