Kenya: Need to Probe 'Kidnap' of Polemic Somali Scholar

17 September 2021

Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad went missing on September 8 from Nairobi's city centre. Somali politicians and Muslim human rights activists called for investigations. Security agencies vowed to trace the consultant.

The incident resulted in accusations and conspiracy theories. His family accused the Somali government of being behind it. North eastern politicians pointed the finger at the Kenyan government. His friends blamed unnamed foreign governments. Social media activists faulted respected research firms.

Others cite a business deal gone sour. And a small group of Somalis believe he was deported by Nairobi to his country, Somalia, without due legal process.

But who is Dr Abdisamad? The regional analyst arrived in Kenya as a refugee in 1992 after the collapse of the Gen Siad Barre dictatorship in 1991. A geography and history graduate of Somalia's Lafole University, he was among the 11 Somalis given temporary teaching jobs in north eastern Kenya. He taught briefly at Wajir High School before moving to a Muslim organisation that was later deregistered over its links to the 1998 Nairobi US embassy terror attack.

Denounced by Kenyan couple

He returned to Somalia, then went to Uganda for post-graduate studies and thereafter sought refuge in Europe in vain. The Horn of Africa analyst is said to have fraudulent secured Kenyan citizenship citing a Kenyan couple as his parents. The couple have since denounced him and the matter is in court.

In the past two years, he was involved in controversial activities like accusing Kenya of 'territory grab' in Somalia amid a maritime border case at the International Court of Justice. He dismissed experts with a different viewpoint on the Tigray war in Ethiopia either as foreign spies or Tigray 'orphans', to be the darling of Nairobi-based Somali TVs and radios.

Overwhelmed by his new-found media status, he spewed hate and disparaged Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo's opponents and castigated Arab nations and Western intelligence agencies using his Twitter handle and other platforms.

'Misused at a fee'

Many believe the scholar was misused (at a fee) by two leading Nairobi-based Somali lawyers, self-appointed propagandists for Mogadishu, bankrolling its keyboard 'warriors' paid from the accounts of intelligence chief Fahad Yassin Haji Dahir.

He was also accused of plagiarising the Horn of Africa Institute for Security Studies name from a think tank group of that name, who have since sought protection of their brand by the authorities.

The academic is also mentioned in controversial multi-million-shilling fraudulent land sale, a dispute allegedly mediated by a group of Eastleigh businessmen after he received threats on his life.

Dr Abdisamad has too many enemies. His "abduction" need be condemned and probed but Nairobi, which has been too patient with him and his cohorts, should weigh between allowing him and his group to roam freely in Kenya or deport them.

Mr Ngoma is a scholar in international relations. [email protected]

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