Two of the three terror convicts who escaped from the Kamiti Maximum Prison were kicked out of their homes in Kakamega County after family disagreements.
Musharaf Abdalla Akhulunga, aka Zarkawi aka Shukri, 31, and Joseph Juma Odhiambo aka Yusuf, 29, were forced to live with relatives at a tender age after their fathers rejected them.
After abandoning school and joining Madrassa, they later travelled to Nairobi and as fate would have it, ended up meeting at Kamiti Maximum Prison after being jailed for terror activities.
Akhulunga left his rural home in Ebumanyi village at 14 years after dropping out of school in Class Five. On the other hand, Odhiambo grew up in Ejinja village in Matungu sub-county. The two are second-born children in their respective families.
Akhulunga’s mother, Ms Zuena Alima said her son was forced to live with his uncle in Sio Port, Busia County. He later joined a Madrassa class in Homa Bay before he travelled to Muthurwa in Nairobi. She said she had learnt of her son’s escape from Kamiti from neighbours since she does not have a phone, radio or TV.
“I went to a neighbour’s home and watched when he was being shoved from the helicopter... It pained me so much to see him being dragged from the chopper to a waiting vehicle,” she said.
Akhulunga is reported to have left Muthurwa without informing his mother where he was headed.
“It took me nearly four months before we re-established contact. I learnt that he had relocated to Watamu in Malindi,” said Ms Alima. He later returned home to lead prayers at Ekero Mosque and conducted Islamic outreach programmes within mosques in Mumias,” she added.
Later, she learnt that her son had been arrested after a foiled attack targeting the Parliament buildings in Nairobi. She described her son as an obedient and disciplined person despite the hardships he went through in his childhood.
When she asked her son why he had joined Al-Shabaab, he said he wanted to make some money and support the family.
“I have visited him at Kamiti four times. I plan to visit him if I get fare to Nairobi and back. I feel so bad that he ended up joining terrorists and criminals who have ruined his life,” said Ms Alima. She added that her son has never married and has no child.
“As a mother, I really love my son and wouldn’t wish to see him injured or killed. Let the government spare him to serve his sentence,” she said.
Mr Peter Odhiambo, the father of convict Odhiambo, was sitting on a bench outside his house having a cup of tea when the Sunday Nation visited him yesterday. At first, he was reluctant to grant us an interview but agreed after we reassured him about our intentions. He said he had disowned his son after he stole his only cow and six bags of maize and fled from home.
Odhiambo attended school up to Class Eight at Makhwale Primary in Mumias East where he scored 336 marks out of 500 marks in 2008.
Mr Odhiambo said he had separated with his convicted son’s mother. “My son grew up at his uncles’ place in Makhwale in Mumias East sub-county and came back much later,” said Mr Odhiambo.
Mr Julius Odhiambo, an elder brother to the terror convict, said his brother dropped out of school after their parents separated.
After going through a rough patch in his childhood, Odhiambo is reported to have later joined his mother in Nairobi as a teenager and was hired by a security firm as night guard.
“He later told me he had converted to Islam and when he came back home, he was so radical claiming the only best life is in heaven. He married and after having two children, went to Mombasa for religious studies.
“He stayed for two years in Mombasa before we were informed he had been arrested while attempting to cross the border into Somalia to join the Al-Shabaab,” explained Julius.
Ms Agnes Odhiambo, a younger sister, said: “He was converted to Islam at the Lindi Mosque in Kibera, Nairobi. He told me and our mother that he was going to do something that would surprise us.”
The family has never visited him in prison, but she says they have been in touch on phone. She added they had talked two weeks ago when he told her that he planned to appeal his case.
“I was surprised to learn from the news that he had escaped.”