What you need to know:
- Investigations and court filings have linked Zuena to an active terrorism facilitation cell with links in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.
Police say the cell Zuena runs is responsible for the recruitment and movement of recruits to the Puntland region of Somalia to join the Islamic State (ISIS) also known as Daesh.
Security agencies are holding a suspected key terror fugitive linked with terror activities in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Zuena Nakhumicha Machabe, 34, from Nakuru County, was arrested on July 27 by Tanzanian authorities at Tunduma town near the Zambian border as she attempted to cross illegally alongside her three children aged 14, 7 and 3 years old.
She was handed over to Kenyan authorities and presented at the Kahawa Law Courts on August 7, 2023 where the court granted the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) 14 days to conclude investigations into her involvement in terrorism activities within the East African region.
She is expected back in court on August 21, 2023.
Investigations and court filings have linked Zuena to an active terrorism facilitation cell with links in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.
And now, police are likening Zuena to British terror fugitive Samantha Louise Lewthwaite aka the “White Widow” who was a logistician for Al Shabaab.
In 2011, Samantha, using a fake South African passport belonging to Natalie Faye Webb, travelled to Kenya without detection, obtained employment, signed leases, secured loans and engaged in multiple terror activities in the country. Samantha is believed to have run terrorist cells operating between Mombasa and Somalia for many years.
According to police, the cell Zuena runs is responsible for the recruitment and movement of recruits to the Puntland region of Somalia to join the Islamic State (ISIS) also known as Daesh.
“Zuena and her collaborators had established a network responsible for procurement of travel documents, housing and transport logistics from Tanzania via Kenya to Ethiopia, all the way to Somalia,” an officer aware of the matter told Nation.
Some of her alleged recruits have since been arrested by ATPU while on transit to Somalia. The suspects include two Tanzanian nationals Nasoro Seif Ali and Baruk Kombo who were arrested in Mombasa for being in the country illegally on March 19. The two were deported to Tanzania where they are facing terror-related charges.
Police have also linked Ayub Omar Bwanaadi, Mohamed Omar Bwanaadi and Kassim Ahmed Ali, who were hiding in Tanzania, to Zuena’s activities. The Bwanadi brothers were arrested aboard a Moyale-bound bus on April 7, as they were suspected to be heading to Somalia.
They are facing terror-related charges among them offences of receiving instructions for purposes of committing a terrorist act, being members of a terrorist group and being in possession of articles connected to the commission of a terrorist act.
Zuena’s attempt to leave Tanzania follows the arrest of a number of her suspected recruits who police believe she thought would expose her activities.
Investigations show Zuena resigned from her lucrative banking job upon being radicalised into violent extremism ideologies in mid-2021. She went to Nakuru Lions Primary School academy before joining Mary Mount Secondary School in 2003.In 2010, she graduated with a bachelors’ degree in Business Management and Information Technology from Kabarak University.
Zuena’s role, police believe, is similar to that of Samantha, the ‘White widow’, who in 2011 was under police radar for allegedly plotting a violent attack to free her co-accused Briyon Jermaine Grant from a Kenyan prison.
Grant, who is about to end his prison term was arrested in 2011 for conspiring to improvise an explosive device after batteries and chemicals were discovered in his apartment in Mombasa.