Ahmed Rashid: Kenya’s ‘untouchable’ police officer falls
After what has been a reign of terror characterised by brutal execution of suspected criminals for over half a decade, one of Kenya’s most controversial police officers Ahmed Rashid is finally set to have his day in court and charged with murder.
Mr Rashid, a sergeant attached to Pangani Police station has for years run one of the most untouchable and feared crack units in Kenya accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings in Eastleigh, Pangani and Mathare slums without any consequences.
‘Pangani Six,’ the infamous team of plainclothes police officers that he commands is not only feared in the areas it controls but its streak of impunity as the face of police brutality has grown so much across the world that global broadcaster BBC once sent a team to patrol with it.
“Those we profile we have to get them alive or dead,” he told the BBC after he shot to fame when a video of him shooting two unarmed teenagers who had surrendered and was lying down begging for his life went viral in 2017.
Yet, despite the circumstances of the shooting, which happened in broad daylight and with dozens of witnesses, a lack of political goodwill by the former government left Rashid to create one of the most feared reigns of terror by a police unit.
This reign of terror may have finally met the beginning of its end after the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) chairperson Anne Makori today, Thursday said that Mr Rashid will be charged with the murder of two of his suspected victims Jamal Mohamed and Mohamed Dhair Kheri.
The two were unarmed when they were fatally shot on March 31, 2017, on suspicion of engaging in crime within the Eastleigh neighbourhood.
This is after Dhair, who was a member of the Super Power gang posted a photo on Facebook wearing a police jacket alleged to belong to a slain officer Abdi Aziz, who had been killed by gangsters.
In the last five years, however, investigations into their killings had stalled even though it was widely known that they had been killed by an officer based at the Pangani Police Station.
“The Independent Policing Oversight Authority concluded the investigation into the deaths of Mr Jamal Mohamed and Mr Mohamed Dahir Kheri following a shooting which occurred at Eastleigh, Nairobi County on March 31, 2017, and established that the fatalities were occasioned by police action,” said IPOA chairperson Anne Makori.
“Guided by Section 29 (a) of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act, the findings were forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions with the recommendation to charge Corporal Ahmed Rashid, with murder,” the IPOA chair added.
In equal measure
Loved and hated in equal measure, Mr Rashid has managed to create a bloodcurdling presence, especially in Mathare where young men who have suspicious behaviour disappear at the mention of his name.
In Eastleigh where the police unit he commands is based, the Super Power gang, which once controlled the streets robbing and stabbing anyone who stood their way, is now a thing of the past.
Beneath these accolades, however, are accusations of extrajudicial killings on a massive scale with documented incidents by human rights groups that have never been acted upon by authorities.
“Today, Ipoa moved to the High Court at Milimani, Nairobi and obtained summons against the police officer, to attend court and take plea on December 8, 2022,” said Ipoa on when Mr Rashid, who will not be arrested, will finally face the law for one of his many suspected killings.
Ipoa is also investigating the shooting of the two young men who had surrendered outside the Pangani Police Station in March this year that is suspected to have been carried out by the Pangani Six.
The shooting, which was captured on video, sparked controversy after the National Police Service claimed that the two were suspected robbers who were killed in a shoot-out. NPS has maintained the position despite the video showing otherwise.
“Following reports from a known complainant, the police alongside Starehe DCI Officers responded. There was a fire exchange and the police had to respond firmly,” said then police spokesperson Bruno Shioso at that time.
“Once the police signal was circulated, all the police in the area were alerted and it was very efficient because they quickly identified one of the suspects’ motorcycles,” he added.