Kenya: Five Terror Suspects Including American Await Trial

A Kenyan court has allowed security agencies to hold five terror suspects arrested Saturday for allegedly casing a bar in Nairobi.   The five include three Somali nationals, a U.S. citizen, and their Kenyan driver.

Five suspects, one American, three Somali nationals, and their Kenyan driver, are awaiting their second appearance in a Kenyan court after they were arrested for of what authorities say is surveying an entertainment establishment in Nairobi.

The five, Mohamed Abas Mohamud, Ifrah Mohamed Abshir, Mohamed Hassan Bario, Hodhan Abdi Ismail, and Mohamed Adan, made an initial court appearance Monday. Prosecutors asked for more time to conduct an investigation on the individuals.

They were arrested Saturday at the Whiskey River Club in Nairobi. David Mbugua, the head of the security of the club, told VOA the suspects were present in the club.

“They came around seven guys. They got their seats in different positions. So we started worrying why they couldn't sit in one table and share their drinks," said Mbugua. "Thereafter I called my guys and told them I am sensing something is not right here, and I sent some guys on different positions to keep an eye on what these guys are set to do. I saw one guy leaving, going behind the club and coming back to the seat, then going again at one time this fellow was just drinking a soda.”

Mbugua says he called one of the suspects to his office, and when he couldn't explain himself, he called authorities.

“I gave a command take this fellow to the chamber for interrogation and then we interrogated this fellow," said Mbugua. "He was telling us I have been to the U.S.  I have been to Kenya. He doesn’t speak good Swahili, good English.  I started wondering because a Kenyan will have a good Swahili, and an American will have a very good flowing English. I told the guy this is the fellow we are looking for. I kept him in custody, and then I communicated to security agencies, and that is it.   They came for him.”

Kenya security agencies say when they took the suspects in they found a military uniform.

The U.S. citizen taken into custody claimed he had not been given an opportunity to contact an attorney.

Abdinassir Adan is a human rights lawyer and has represented many terror suspects. He says the prosecution sometimes has relied on hearsay and many end up being freed.

“Most of the time when there is this issue of terrorism surfaces, the most challenging beat is prosecution or the government tend to struggle to link the suspect with any terrorism because what they normally rely on is rumor, and they don’t have sufficient evidence to link the suspect with (the terror) the number of suspects to be convicted of terrorism are very minimal.  Most of them are released," said Adnan.

In July 2019, a Tanzanian and two Kenyans were found guilty for their role in the 2015 Garissa University College gun attack that killed 147 people.

Kenya has witnessed a wave of terror attacks in the past month, killing more than 20 people, but Kenyan authorities have occasionally released terror suspects after interrogating them for a few weeks.

The al-Shabab terror group targets Kenya for its troop contribution to the African Union mission in Somalia that supports the Somali government.

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