22 March 2018

Kenya: Exposed - How Terror Gang 'Planned to Bomb Supreme Court, Parliament'

Photo: Dennis Onsongo/Nairobi News
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi on March 14, 2018, displays the firearms and ammunition confiscated from terror suspects in Isiolo.

The prime suspect in a botched terror mission targeting the Supreme Court and other government installations in Nairobi worked with several Kenyans who helped him acquire fake documents and move around.

Police say Abdimajit Hassan Adan worked closely with Anthony Kitila Makau, Mohamed Osman Nane, John Kiarie, and Lydia Nyawira Mburu. All of them will be arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts Thursday morning.

The Daily Nation is aware of the alleged roles of each of the aides of Abdimajit, who was arrested in Merti, Isiolo, as he transported a vehicle laden with a total of 110 kilogrammes of Trinitrotoluene (TNT) explosives, five AK-47 rifles, 36 gun magazines, three modified Nokia phones, 36 unprimed hand grenades, 18 pairs of grenade primers, five military-grade projectiles, and three military knives.

BOMB ATTACK

Security officials say the suspects targeted the Supreme Court as the epicentre of the bomb attack, which would have been followed by successive explosions at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Parliament Buildings, County Hall, Technical University of Kenya, Central Bus Station, Jeevanjee Gardens, Serena Hotel, the University of Nairobi, and Milimani Law Courts.

A document profiling the suspects and their Kenyan aides, all of whom operated from Nairobi, states that Abdimajit travelled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab in early 2015, underwent training in various camps in Somalia, and carried out some "assignments" in Somalia and in Kenya.

"He procured the vehicles that were to be used, sourced for safe houses, and facilitated the movement of the vehicle laden with explosives to Nairobi from El-Adde in Somalia through Elwak and Merti."

Police believe that in late September 2017, Dhere, a senior al-Shabaab commander in Jilib, informed Abdimajit that he was to travel to Nairobi, rent a house and obtain a driving licence within the shortest time possible. A month later, Dhere gave Abdimajit the equivalent of Sh300,000 in US dollars and saw him off to Nairobi.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet says had the plot succeeded, it would have caused massive infrastructural devastation, deaths and injuries.

'STAGE A SIEGE'

"Typically, terrorists prefer ramming an armed vehicle into a gate or main entrance to the target to avoid premature detonation," says Mr Boinnet. "This allows the second team of terrorists, armed with assault rifles and grenades, to stage a siege inside the target building." Al-Shabaab used the same plot against Kenya Defence Forces at Kulbiyow in 2017 and El-Adde in 2016, says the police boss.

A joint team of security forces traced Abdimajit's movements in Nairobi from November 25 last year, when he enrolled for a driving course at Rocky Driving School along Tom Mboya Street.

Around this time, he also met Anthony Kitila Makau, a taxi driver who soon became a close friend. Makau drove him around the city and helped him identify a car to purchase for the mission.

"They became so close that they started partying together in various clubs in Nairobi, and Abdimajit attended a birthday party at Makau's residence in Lucky Summer," the police document notes.

On December 27 last year, intelligence and security forces traced Abdimajit to Wajir, then Elwak the following day, and across the border in Somalia on December 30.

Two days later, on January 1 this year, he started the journey back to Nairobi, where he arrived on January 3.

He left Nairobi on January 12 for Kachuru in Meru, where he stayed until January 17, when he went back to Nairobi. On February 1 he left again for Somalia. On February 5, Abdimajit travelled to Elwak and left for Somalia on February 7, then went back to Elwak on February 9 for a flight to Nairobi.

He had booked a room at Delta Hotel, opposite Central Police Station in Nairobi, where he stayed from February 9 before leaving for Maua in Meru on February 14.

CHANGE ID DETAILS

While still in Nairobi Abdimajit had given Sh10,000 to John Kiarie, a messenger at Homeland Insurance Brokers, and asked him to link him up with someone who could help him change the details of his national identity card.

Kiarie linked him with a woman only identified as Wanjiru, who introduced him to Lydia Nyawira Mburu for the printing of four fake Kenyan ID cards at a cost of Sh160,000.

Lydia works as a secretary and printing assistant at Paste Printers, a small firm housed at Ridge House along Luthuli Avenue in Nairobi, and she says she only pocketed Sh4,000 from the entire deal.

Abdimajit left for Merti on February 15 to wait for the explosive-laden Mitsubishi SUV, which was headed his way from Elwak. He was arrested that same day alongside his close associate, Mohammed Nane, before he could travel to Nairobi for the attack. Another accomplice was killed during the raid.

Police say the shot suspect was a 27-year-old technical expert named Mbarak, who was to arm the bomb and grenades in Nairobi on the day of the attack.

The suspects planned to detonate the massive pipe bomb at the Supreme Court then attack nine other installations with IEDs, grenades, and guns.

Mr Boinnet, the police chief, says the larger bomb would have caused destruction and massive deaths within a radius of 250 metres.

An expert attached to the Bomb and Hazardous Disposal Unit says a kilogramme of TNT can cause destruction within an 11-metre radius. Abdimajit's explosives weighed 110 kilogrammes in total.

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