22 January 2019

Kenya: 30 Days in Police Cells for Suspects Linked to Attack

Four more people, including the mother of one of the terrorists killed in a gunfight with commandos at a Nairobi business complex last week, were yesterday arraigned over the attack, which left 21 people dead.

Ali Salim Gichunge's mother Sakina Mariam Abdalla, George Ndung'u, Mukhtar Ibrahim and Isaak Hussein appeared at the Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi, but police sought and got orders to detain them for more days as they conduct investigations into the terrorist raid.

Apart from Ms Abdalla, who was detained for 10 more days, the other suspects will all be held for 30 days.

CALL RECORDS

Mukhtar is believed to have communicated with one of the attackers and facilitated his movement on Tuesday before the terrorist incident. He is an assistant sheikh in Mandera Town. He was arrested on January 19, near Jamia Mosque in Mandera.

Isaak, on the other hand, is an Ethiopian national, and was arrested on January 19, near Mandera Town alongside Mukhtar.

Police said they needed to detain Gichunge's mother longer in order to scrutinise call data and financial records, to establish whether she was telling the truth about her relationship with her son. She told police that her son was first employed by one Mama Sammy as a cybercafé attendant, earning Sh5,000 per month, within Isiolo Town before he moved to Shams Cyber in the same town.

Gichunge later met another man, who promised him a cybercafé job in Mombasa, she added. But, after he left in 2014, he went underground and only called her in 2016, to inform her that he had landed a scholarship in Mogadishu to study Islamic Religious Education.

"That's the last she heard of him until this attack happened," the court document indicated, adding that the detectives needed more time to also examine some electronic goods that were confiscated from Ms Abdalla.

The Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU), the affidavit states, is interviewing other people believed to have connections to terrorism, reviewing their financial records and examining their call data.

The arraignment brings to 10 the number of people who have been arrested over Tuesday's attack -- a fourth suspect, George Ndung'u, was detained for 10 days.

RADICALISATION

Five other suspects, including a Canadian, were charged last week over the attack. They include Joel Ng'ang'a Wainaina, Oliver Kanyango, Gladys Kaari, Guleid Abdihakim, and Osman Ibrahim.

The arrests in Nairobi came as three men listed by police as being among Kenya's most wanted fugitives surrendered to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Isiolo, where they claimed they had never been on the run.

Abdi Ali Kanchora, Boru Abdi Bidu and Ramadhan Wario Bonaya were arrested on diverse dates in 2017, accused of plotting to join the terror group Al-Shabaab, and later charged in an Isiolo court.

They all come from the Tulloroba area of Isiolo Town, regarded as the epicentre of radicalisation in the region. Six of the suspects listed by police are from Isiolo County.

Ramadhan and Kachora, whose cases are still ongoing, were released on Sh2 million bonds, while Bidu was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Yesterday, the parents of the three suspectes camped at the DCI offices in Isiolo, claiming that the men were innocent and in danger, especially after they were listed as armed and dangerous fugitives.

They took their complaints to the Deputy County Commissioner's office, where they said they feared their children could be killed despite the fact that their cases were yet to be determined.

The suspects, the parents said, had been reporting to the ATPU offices regularly as required and were helping the government with information.

WEDDING

Mr Abdi Bidu, father to Boru Abdi Bidu, said his son had attempted to go to Somalia in 2017, but was intercepted, and charged, and had reformed. He now runs a boda boda business in Isiolo town.

Kachora, on the other hand, was busy planning his wedding, slated for February 9, when police announced him as being among Kenya's most wanted fugitives.

On Monday, he travelled to Isiolo from Merti to link up with his family.

He was first arrested on June 1, 2017, at Bute police roadblock in Wajir County. His mother, Ms Halima Boru, said her son, who sells second-hand clothes, was arrested in connection with a terror attack in Wajir three years ago.

"Why would the police include his name on the list yet he has a case pending in court? He is not a fugitive. I was shocked when I saw his photo on television on Sunday night," said Ms Boru.

Ramadhan's case was last mentioned on December 3, last year. He was scheduled to appear in court for the mention of the case on January 31.

He was arrested while watching a televised soccer match in a hall within Isiolo Town three years ago and has been reporting to the regional ATPU offices since then.

Reporting by Stella Cherono, Maureen Kakah and Vivian Jebet

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