Govt to weed out Shabaab sympathisers in Nairobi swoop

Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode has said the ongoing operation by the army in Somalia will be followed by a major swoop on estates in Nairobi where the government suspects sympathisers of the al Shabaab and Al Qaeda reside October 19, 2011. FILE

The ongoing operation by the army in Somalia will be followed by a major swoop on estates in Nairobi where the government suspects sympathisers of the al Shabaab and Al Qaeda reside.

Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh told Parliament Wednesday morning this swoop will be “the mother of all operations in Nairobi”.

Mr Ojodeh made the statement as MPs from North Eastern Province criticised the security checks on flights to and from the area, which they said amount to harassment and discrimination.

“This (the al Shabaab issue) is like a big animal, with the tail in Somalia, and the head of the animal is hidden here in Eastleigh,” said the tough-talking assistant minister.

“After the Somalia thing is over, I am going to do a mother of all operations here in Nairobi to remove all al Shabaab and Al Qaeda,” said Mr Ojodeh as he asked MPs to support the decision.

Buffer zone

The Kenyan army has driven into parts of Somalia over the past one week, where it hopes to establish a buffer zone to prevent the militia from entering the country.

He said the government expects “there will be some discomfort for one or two weeks” over the operation, but Nairobians would eventually be happier after the process ends.

But Mandera East MP Mohamed Hussein Ali and Adan Keynan of Wajir West lamented that the security checks on the flights were misused and unnecessary because the passengers are Kenyans.

“As much as we also support the security measures, this is a matter of harassment which also borders on corruption,” said Mr Hussein, who said he has not been subjected to the same treatment on flights to other parts of Kenya.

Toll stations

Mr Keynan alleged that the policemen who carry out the security checks have turned them into toll stations.

He said while moving a motion on a report by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee on the Kenyan embassy in Somalia that criminals are exploiting the problem in Somalia for a profit.

He said the problem is compounded by corruption within the security forces and the underfunding that makes it impossible for them to acquire the necessary equipment and vehicles to prevent the incursions.

Mr Keynan said that while MPs from the region endorse the action on the al Shabaab, the Government should not do anything that will amount to discrimination against one community.

The problems at the border with Somalia are complicated by the fact that the community straddles both countries and the language, culture and religion is shared.

Nominated MP Mohammed Affey said while those flying in from Somalia, who make stops in Wajir, should be checked, it is unfair to lump Kenyans with them when the flights land in Nairobi.  

Dujis MP Aden Duale said the security checks infringe on Kenyans’ freedom of movement.

“As much as we allow the Government and this minister to act on al Shabaab, we will not allow harassment and discrimination,” said Mr Duale.

But Mr Ojodeh said the restrictions on chartered flights to North Eastern Province would remain, and passengers would require to produce identity cards on passports even on domestic flights.

All buses and matatus plying the routes between Nairobi and North Eastern, Upper Eastern and upper Rift Valley would have all the passengers vetted.

“I am within the law to protect him (the MP) and to protect his property. It is in the same Constitution that he must go to Wajir and return to Nairobi alive,” said Mr Ojodeh. 

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