Freed terrorism suspect Liban Abdulle Omar abducted

Westgate Shopping Mall accused Liban Omar leaves court after being acquitted on October 7, 2020. Omar was abducted by people claiming to be security officers on October 9.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Omar had spent the past seven years in and out of court, where he denied abetting the 2013 Westgate Mall attack that left 68 people dead.
  • By 9am, Mr Omar was at the ATPU headquarters on Hospital Road and his clearance was underway.

  • The gunmen took the driver’s keys before speeding off on Hospital Road.

Around 8am Thursday, acquitted terror suspect Liban Abdulle Omar left Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) offices, from where he would be released back into public life. 

Mr Omar had spent the past seven years in and out of court, where he denied abetting the 2013 Westgate Mall attack that left 68 people dead.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi also acquitted Omar of the charge of being in Kenya illegally and getting identification documents by false pretences.

The magistrate said the blame of the identity card lay on authorities, as Omar simply applied for the document.

Mr Omar is from Somalia and had been living in Kakuma refugee camp.

Freed terrorism suspects usually clear with the remand centre that held them before being released to the ATPU.

By 9am, Mr Omar was at the ATPU headquarters on Hospital Road and his clearance was underway.

Two and a half hours later, ATPU had cleared Mr Omar and given him.

Five hooded men

His sister Sahra, an aunt and two other relatives had waited patiently for Mr Omar and called a taxi to take him home.

They would drive through the roundabout next to Don Bosco church, down to Bunyala Road, to the city centre and into Eastleigh.

But right next to KCB Towers, a black Subaru drove past the taxi and blocked them, before a group of more than five hooded men in civilian clothes jumped out. Each had an AK47 rifle.

“They were not very young. We demanded their identity and they said they were security officers. They went for Omar and threw him into the boot of the Subaru. They then drove off and left us stranded there,” Sahra said.

As though to ensure they were not followed, the gunmen took the driver’s keys before speeding off on Hospital Road.

The incident took less than 10 minutes, according to Mr Omar’s relatives, who don’t know where he was taken.

Taxi driver Titus Mutiso was stranded in the middle of the road for close to three hours. Eventually, he called a breakdown truck which towed the vehicle home.

Mr Omar’s lawyer Mbugua Mureithi is no stranger to the tactics used by security officers, and his experience puts him in a position to guess what will happen to his client – deportation.

After terrorists struck Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with an explosive device in 2014, four men – Hassan Abdi Mohammed, Mohammed Osman Ali, Yusuf Warsame and Garad Hassan Fer – were arraigned.

Initially, police boss David Kimaiyo said a light bulb had fallen and led people to believe that a bomb had exploded.

Went missing

But investigations would see the four charged with detonating the device.

In 2018, the four men represented by Mr Mureithi were acquitted and cleared with Kamiti Prison before being released into ATPU custody.

Shortly after leaving the ATPU headquarters, they were abducted and went missing.

“They called from Somalia eight months later, saying they were had been abducted. We don’t know what will happen to Mr Omar but he may be deported in similar fashion,” Mr Mureithi said as he criticised police for not obeying the law.

After the incident, Mr Omar’s family went to Capitol Hill police station where they reported that he had been abducted.

They were given an occurrence book number, but were yet to hear anything about their relative’s whereabouts by the time we went to press.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.