Obama blacklists three Kenyans over links with Al-Shabaab militants

Defence minister Yusuf Haji (left), Special representative of the UN to Somalia Augustine Mahiga (centre), and Chief of Defence Forces of Kenya General Julius Karangi on July 6, 2012 during the integration of the Kenya Defence Forces to the African Union Mission in Somalia at the DoD headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/SALATON NJAU

Three Kenyan businessmen have been slapped with sanctions by the United States over alleged links to Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

Mr Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, Mr Omar Awadh Omar and Mr Aboud Rogo Mohammed were blacklisted in an “executive order” signed by President Barack Obama.

All three have in the past been listed by Kenyan police as most wanted and are being prosecuted in terrorism-related cases.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Defence Forces on Friday released profiles of six Kenyans thought to be coordinating the recruitment of local youth into the Somali militia group, Al-Shabaab.

Top on the list is one Mohamed Abdikadir Mohamed also known as Ikrima, a Kenyan of Somali descent and one who keeps medium hair and has a moustache like that of Saddam Hussein.

The KDF warned that Ikrima is back in the country and is still actively planning attacks against Kenya.

The latest US government action means any of their properties, including bank accounts, in that country have been frozen. Mr Omar Awadh Omar is at present in remand jail in Uganda where he’s being tried for his alleged part in the Kampala bombings of July 2010 in which 76 people were killed.

The other two were charged in the chief magistrate’s court at Milimani, Nairobi, after they were accused of taking part in a Kampala coach grenade attack on River Road, Nairobi, killing three people in June last year.

Their lawyer Mbugua Mureithi told the Nation: “That case has never taken off and they are only suspects.”

“Mr Rogo Mohammed is also facing another charge at the Mombasa law courts in which he is accused of being in possession of firearms.”

“He is out on bail and the case is pending,” added Mr Mureithi.

The others slapped with the US sanctions are two Eriterian government officials – Col Tewolde Negash and Col Taeme Goitom – and Sudanese Suhayl Salim Muhammad `Abd-el-Rahman aka Abu-Faris.
The Sudanese is described as an Al-Shabaab foreign fighter facilitator.

In issuing the order, President Obama said the individuals “engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia.”

“The United States is determined to target those who are responsible for the ongoing bloodshed and instability in Somalia,” said US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Director Adam J. Szubin.

Dismantle the militia

“By designating these individuals today we are taking action to support our partner governments in East Africa and the African Union Mission in Somalia in their efforts to dismantle Al-Shabaab,” he added.

President Obama issued the order initially in April 2010.

It means the individuals cannot access their property in the US including bank accounts and real estate among others.

The US report in part says of Mr Rogo Mohammed:

“Offers guidance on how Kenyan recruits joining al-Shabaab can evade detection by the Kenyan authorities, and which routes to follow when travelling from Mombasa, Kenya, and/or Lamu to Al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, notably Kismayu. He has facilitated the travel to Somalia of numerous Kenyan recruits for Al-Shabaab.”

He is said to have six aliases.

As for Omar, said to use two aliases, the US report adds: “Has provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for Al-Shabaab. Omar has facilitated funding to Al-Shabaab and is believed to have facilitated the movement of foreign fighters and supplies into Somalia.”

Mr Abubaker Shariff aka Makaburi is further described in the report as “a leading facilitator and recruiter of young Kenyan Muslims for “action” in Somalia, and a close associate of Aboud Rogo Mohammed.

He provides material support to extremist groups in Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa. Through his frequent trips to Al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, including Kismayu, he has been able to maintain strong ties with senior Al-Shabaab members.”

The US report went on to describe him as an inspirational lecturer, who called for rejection of Somalia peace process between February 2009 and February 2012.

“Aboud Rogo Mohammed repeatedly called for the use of violence against both the United Nations and AMISOM forces in Somalia, and urged his audiences to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab’s fight against the Kenyan Government,” the report says.

He is further said to use two other aliases.

A senior detective with the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) described the three as “orphans” following the death of Osman Bin Laden, Fazul Abdullah and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.

“Since the death of the three top Al-Qaeda officials, they have been cut off from the international terror network and there are just treated as the sympathizers of the Al-Shabaab terror group and our intelligence indicates that two are not even recognised by the top brass of the Somalia based terror group,” said the ATPU terror official.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said at one time the suspects had in their possession “weapons of war, like the rocket propelled grenade,” adding that “the US Government is right on the decision.”

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