Muslim leaders in Isiolo confess bribing officials to release terror suspects

Isiolo County Commissioner George Natembeya with Muslim leaders and county security team members during an interview with the media on October 6, 2016. He said a multi-agency team has been formed to probe terror cases. PHOTO | VIVIAN JEBET | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The revelation comes as Isiolo is slowly becoming a key transit town to northern Kenya and Somalia for Islamic extremists.
  • Police officers have previously been accused of extorting money and demanding bribes from relatives of terror suspects.

A security team has been formed to probe terrorism cases in Isiolo County, as some Muslim leaders have confessed to bribing police to release terror suspects.

The revelation comes as Isiolo is slowly becoming a key transit town to northern Kenya and Somalia for the extremists.

The team consists of representatives from the Anti-Terror Police Unit, Kenya Defence Forces, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Administration Police, regular Police and Prisons department. They will all collaborate in investigating terror-related cases.

During a meeting with imams, sheikhs, mosque committees and madrassa teachers at the Al-Falah Islamic centre, Isiolo County Commissioner George Natembeya urged locals to report officers who demand bribes to release the suspects.

Several cases of young people being radicalised to join Al-Shabaab and other terror groups have been reported in Isiolo, with authorities intensifying the search for recruiters.

Police say more than 30 young people have been radicalised, with some reportedly crossing the border to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab.

Mr Natembeya said police are also interrogating three youths who were arrested while they were allegedly on their way to join the Somali-based Islamist group.

They have been arraigned and their cases are still pending.

“We want good relations with religious leaders to enable authorities to get information on those engaging in recruitment of our youths,” said the administrator.

Religious leaders were also urged to regulate teachings in places of worship and to ensure that they monitor rogue preachers.

During the meeting, the leaders accused law enforcement officers of harassing some imams and sheikhs suspected of propagating radicalisation.

Inter-Faith Religious Organisation chairman Ahmed Set said religious leaders will help police arrest Al-Shabaab recruiters.

He said police should investigate those preaching in streets, saying some could be radicalising young people to join terror groups.