interviewBy Mohammed Yusuf
Nairobi — The radical Kenyan cleric Sheikh Abubakar Shariff, also known as Makaburi, was killed by unknown gunmen Tuesday evening outside Mombasa's Shanzu Law Courts.
Accused by U.S. and U.N. officials of supporting Somalia-based al-Shabab militants, Makaburi was connected with controversial Masjid Musa Mosque, where Kenyan security forces recently carried out a series of deadly raids, leaving the city's Muslim community shaken.
News reports indicate Mombasa's top police officer Robert Kitur recently defended the raids, telling Justice Edward Mureithi of Mombasa's High Court that the facility was stormed only after "intelligence that some extremists were there radicalizing youth," and that the situation posed a threat to national security.
Makaburi's killing comes just days after he publicly expressed support for al Shabaab and the group's 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall terror attack in Nairobi.
What follows are key excerpts from a 2013 VOA interview in which Makaburi talks about another slain cleric, Sheikh Aboud Rogo, and also predicts his own death.
YUSUF: You are accused of being an al-Shabab supporter and also the group's recruiter in Mombasa.
MAKABURI: I have never seen a recruitment booth in Mombasa or any specific place where a youth can go and be recruited. That is a lie. What is being done in Mombasa is [that] people are taught their religion and, in Islam, we do not have borders.
YUSUF: Why do you think some youths are joining al-Shabab?
MAKABURI: Its oppression. We Muslims know that we are getting killed. Our government is killing us. ... Now, when you get killed, there is nowhere to go for help, like the case against Sheikh Aboud Rogo: a year has passed [since his 2012 killing] and... nothing. Nothing will be gotten from the government. No justice. That's what make the youth angry.
YUSUF: Police have repeatedly said people are not coming forward to give information that can lead to the arrests of the gunmen or killers of your friends.
MAKABURI: Who will come out to tell the police that you killed (sic)? They are afraid for their lives. If they are true to their word, [the people] are accusing the police of killing Muslims in Mombasa; if [the police] are true to their words, there should be a non-partial investigation. They should not be involved in that investigation. How can a killer investigate himself?
YUSUF: Some of your friends, like Aboud Rogo, have been killed. What has life been like without your friends around you?
MAKABURI: Very lonely. All my friends are dead. I know the killers. I cannot do anything about it. I cannot get justice for my friends' killers. It's very lonely.
YUSUF: Do you fear for your life?
MAKABURI: I don't fear for my life, because I am a devoted Muslim. I believe in Qadr [destiny]. I believe I will not die except the day [it is] written that I will die, on the second that has been written."
YUSUF: Do you think you will be done with these terror cases in court whether you are found guilty or not?
MAKABURI: I don't think I will finish the case. They will kill me before that.
YUSUF: And why is that?
MAKABURI: Because I believe in Islam and am ready to die for it. And because I will not keep quiet and let my religion being stomped upon.
YUSUF: Where is your family? It looks like there is no one here except you?
MAKABURI: My family cannot stay with me. They are afraid they will be killed. I am staying by myself.
YUSUF: How often do you see your family?
MAKABURI: I see them regularly but they cannot stay with me. Nobody from my family comes and visits me, because they do not know at what time the government squad killers will come for me.
YUSUF: I understand you have a boy, age nine, how will your son view your death?
MAKABURI: My son will know that his father was the one who was wronged, because, as you have seen today, I was in court. I am obeying the law. It's the government which is breaking the law. It's the government which is killing the people extra-judicially.
Peter Cobus contributed to this report from Washington.