Anti-terror unit maps hideouts of Shabaab recruits

Police officers at the scene of a recent grenade attack in Ng'ombeni area, Kwale county, where three people including the area chief were injured in the blast. Photo / Laban Walloga

Kenya's anti-terrorism police unit has identified hideouts where hundreds of youths returning from Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia are said to be seeking refuge.

Mombasa, Lamu, South Coast, Garissa, Isiolo are some of areas where anti-terrorism police officers have been deployed to track down the returnees.

Head of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) Boniface Mwaniki said although there are no official figures of those recruited, they suspect more than 1,000 Kenyan youth joined the group.

Mr Mwaniki said the hunt for the Al-Shabaab recruits is yielding fruits following successful arrests in Garissa and Mombasa.

In Mombasa, seven men, among them the son of slain controversial cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo, were arrested last week.

Khubeib Aboud Rogo, 17, was arrested at his sister’s wedding. The groom of the wedding is also suspected to be a recruit who police claim trained together with Khubeib in Somalia.

The Anti-Terror boss confirmed that Khubedi was taken to Somalia by his late father and was left there to fight for Al-Shabaab.

“What we know is that this man was from Somalia. They trained together and the father left him there and returned to pick more recruits. He was left there to lead by example, “said Mr Mwaniki in an interview.

Police sources indicate Khubedi joined Al-Shabaab in 2006 together with a son of another terror suspect currently held in connection to two terror attacks in Kampala, Uganda, on a crowd that was watching the 2010 world cup final match. The attacks left 74 people dead.

“Unfortunately the other boy died in Mogadishu one night in an aborted attack against Uganda forces. He was shot dead while armed with a sniper gun,” said the source.

Police and intelligence sources indicate that Khubedi received paramilitary trainings including bomb making and was extensively involved in battles between Al-Shabaab and Ethiopia forces.

He was jointly charged with Swaleh Abdulmajit, Swaleh Ali alias Ronaldo, Bilal Gaitho, Juma Musa alias Chidi, Hashim Yassir and Mzee Suleiman.

Investigators told the court that they had credible intelligence that the group was planning to carry out simultaneous terror attacks on unspecified targets in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Sheikh Ahmed Iman Ali, a Kenyan appointed as de factor leader of Al-Shabaab, is the most sought target, according to Kenyan intelligence sources.

“We don’t know his whereabouts, we suspect he might be in Yemen or holed up somewhere with other Al-Shabaab leaders after they were flushed out from Kismayu three months ago,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Also being sought is Faud Abubakar Manswab, a terror suspect jointly charged with a British citizen Jermaine John Grant, in a case where they were accused of being in possession of explosive materials.

Intelligence report implicated him and others of planning to carry out several terror attacks in Mombasa.