Detectives finally seize 3 terror suspects on the run for 7 years

Ayub Omar Bwanaadi, Mohamed Omar Bwanaadi, Kassim Ahmed Ali

Terror suspects Ayub Omar Bwanaadi, Mohamed Omar Bwanaadi and Kassim Ahmed Ali, who were arrested in Isiolo County, aboard a Moyale-bound bus, on April 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Mohamed Omar Bwanaadi (22), Ayub Omar Bwanaadi (32) and Kassim Ahmed Ali alias Abdirahman Saidi (29) were arrested in Isiolo aboard a Moyale bound bus on April 7.
  • The three are linked to the gruesome murders in 2019, of Mbwajumwali senior chief Mohamed Famau Haji, his brother Yussuf aka Pele, his assistant Malik Athman Shee and Police Constable Hesbon Okemwa.

Security agencies are holding three wanted terror suspects who had been on the run for seven years.

Mohamed Omar Bwanaadi (22), Ayub Omar Bwanaadi (32) and Kassim Ahmed Ali alias Abdirahman Saidi (29) were arrested in Isiolo aboard a Moyale-bound bus on April 7.

They were arraigned at the Kahawa anti-terror court on April 11 when detectives in the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit were allowed to hold them for 30 days to complete their investigations.

The three are linked to the gruesome murders in 2019, of Mbwajumwali senior chief Mohamed Famau Haji, his brother Yussuf aka Pele, his assistant Malik Athman Shee and Police Constable Hesbon Okemwa.

At the time, eye witnesses said the assailants, clad in hijabs, stormed the chief’s office in Lamu County armed with machetes and hacked the administrators to death.

Detectives say the trio had been hiding in Tanzania and were on their way to Puntland to join Daesh (Isis) in Somalia at the time of arrest.

Upon interrogation, the suspects told detectives that the plan to join Daesh in Puntland was orchestrated by Mohamed and Ayub’s brother, Ali Omar Bwanaadi.

Bwanaadi is a crime fugitive who also ran away from Lamu after police issued a warrant for his arrest due to his alleged involvement in the brutal killings of security officers.

Detectives suspect Ali is hiding in Morogoro, Tanzania, and is in contact with their fourth brother, Yunus Omar Bwanaadi, who is said to have joined Alshabaab in Somalia.

“The plan was mooted after it became untenable for them to continue hiding in Tanzania, after information circulated that Tanzanian authorities were investigating them after Kenyan authorities sought their assistance,” a detective privy to the matter told Nation.

Contacts and briefings

The suspects had planned to travel to Somalia via Ethiopia with the help of a Daesh contact who handed them Sh150,000 to facilitate their movement from Tanzania to Mombasa via Lungalunga, using hired bodabodas.

They then took a bus to Nairobi where they were issued with new SIM cards and accommodation in Eastleigh.

In Nairobi, they were also briefed on how to evade police traps on the way to their destination.

The following day, they boarded a bus bound for Moyale, where they would cross over the border to Ethiopia and meet a contact who would furnish them with new identities and identification documents to facilitate their stay and eventual seamless cross over to Puntland, Somalia.

Though the two brothers denied knowing Kasim Ahmed, intelligence reports show he received similar instructions.

Police believe it was not a coincidence that the three recruits hailing from the same area - Mbwajumali village in Lamu County - traveled from Tanzania on the same day, via the same route and were nabbed aboard the same bus in Isiolo.

Police believe the three also shared a link to the heinous killings of security officers that had nodes to activities of Al-Shaabab militants in Boni and Lamu County.

In December last year, the High Court sentenced their fifth brother, Omar Bwanaadi, to 28 years in prison after he was found guilty of killing Mohamed Shee Mohamed Omar in 2016.

Police records show Kassim was previously arrested while trying to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia and that similarly, on March 1 2016, he was arrested at the Bumala police roadblock in Busia alongside Ali Omar, Muhammed Kassim Abdalla, and Mustafa Kheri Shali while trying to cross over to Uganda, then to Sudan and to Libya to join Isis.

They were arraigned at the Mombasa Law Courts and charged with being Al-Shabaab members and having two rifles, 37 bullets and chemicals used to make explosives.

Kasim was further linked to attacks at the Nyali Barracks in Mombasa in 2014.

Detectives are seeking to consolidate murder and terrorism charges against the three suspects, whom they consider law fugitives and repeat offenders, hence a flight risk.

They will be charged at the Kahawa Law Courts on Thursday.

Self-confessed Al-Shabaab spy

At the same time, police are seeking to file terror charges against a self-confessed Al-Shabaab spy, who was last week sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of being in the country illegally.

Ali Adan Issack aka Alio Edin Marsack, a 39-year-old Somali, is serving his sentence at the Mandera GK Prison.

He will be charged with offences related to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) for sneaking into the country during Eid celebrations to collect information that would be used to commit a terror act.

According to the police, the suspect was arrested at Wargadud Town in Mandera on Eid al-Fitr, by a multiagency security team, following a tipoff from members of the public who suspected he was a member of Al-Shabaab.

He was detained at Elwak Police Station, where he was interrogated by ATPU detectives on his links to the terror group and his mission in the country. He could not account for his presence in the area.

The suspect told the detectives that he is from the Harin tribe and Ajuran clan and that he was born and bred in Audin (Bardar), Somalia.

He further disclosed that he lived and worked at Baidoa as a mason and that in August 2018, he was recruited and trained at an unspecified camp within Jilib in Somalia on how to collect information on behalf of the terror group.

He was then deployed to the Gedo region to carry out operations.

Police said the suspect also confessed that he was involved in more than five attacks staged by the militants in Gedo and the Middle Juba regions within Somalia.

On April 25, when he was arraigned at the Mandera Law Courts, he admitted, before Senior Resident Magistrate Mukabi Kimani, to entering the country without requisite documents.

The prosecution told the court that the suspect had no legal documents allowing him to be in the country and that he used illegal routes to enter Kenya, contrary to the Citizenship and Immigration Act.

Security agencies believe he is one of the spies dispatched from an Al-Shabaab camp in El-Adde to search for possible targets in the country.

They say the suspect traveled with an unidentified Al-Shabaab operative who has been on the security radar for a while.

It was not clear whether the suspect was carrying out reconnaissance around Wargadud town, where he was nabbed, or if he was on a mission to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on major roads within the area.