Tanzanians arrested over Al-Shabaab links claim they were planning a wedding

Mr Khamisi Shaban (left) and Mturama Mustapha in Mombasa Court. They were formally charged with being members of the Al-Shabaab terror group.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation

Two Tanzanian nationals arrested on Wednesday over terror links claimed they came to Kenya to arrange the wedding.

Mr Mturama Mustapha, the alleged groom of a Kenyan woman, and Khamisi Shaban, his groomsman, told a Mombasa court they were in

Kenya to finalise the wedding plans when they were arrested at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) building in the city.

Court records show that the two were arrested on September 24, produced in court and detained to allow for more investigations.

On Wednesday, the men were produced in court and formally charged with being members of the Al-Shabaab terror group.

They were also charged with being in possession of an article connected with the commission of a terrorist act.

The state alleges that the suspects were found with a mobile phone that was analysed and found to contain articles related to the commission of terrorist acts.

The suspects, who had no lawyers and appeared before Principal Magistrate Vincent Adet, pleaded not guilty.

Mr Mustapha told the court he travelled to Kenya to finalise his wedding plans with his Kenyan girlfriend.

"I am a visitor in Kenya. I came to finalise the plans for a wedding with my girlfriend and I have a message on my phone to support this claim," he said.

His travel to Kenya, he insisted, had nothing to do with terrorism or any terrorist group and he just wanted to tie the knot with his fiancée.

For his part, Mr Shaban told the court he accompanied his friend for his wedding plans before they were arrested on suspicion of having links with Al-Shabaab.

"We were surprised to be arrested on the pretext that we are working for Al-Shabaab. Those allegations are false and we ask the court to help us," he said.

The suspects asked the court to help them contact their relatives in Tanzania and tell them what had befallen them in Kenya.

State Counsel Hillary Isiaho did not oppose bond for the suspects.

"But we ask the court to consider the seriousness of the charges facing the suspects," he said.

The suspects were released on a Sh500,000 bond each with one surety of the same amount.

The case will be mentioned on November 5.