Category: Wild Land of Kenya

April 01, 2014

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A radical Islamic leader who had been sanctioned by the United States and the United Nations for supporting an al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group was assassinated late Tuesday, his lawyer and officials said.

The killing by unknown gunmen came as the Kenyan government announced it had begun an operation to stop a wave of attacks in the country as authorities arrested more than 650 people in Nairobi following a bomb attack Monday.

Attorney Mbugua Mureithi said Abubakar Shariff Ahmed was shot dead along with another unidentified man near the Shimo la Tewa prison in the coastal town of Mombasa. The killings threaten to spark retaliatory violence.

Ahmed’s death is the latest to hit the Masjid Shuhadaa Mosque, which officials call an incubator of terrorism. Sheik Aboud Rogo Mohammed — a friend of Ahmed’s — was assassinated in August 2012. A year later another mosque leader was killed. There have been no arrests in either case.

Mohammed had been sanctioned by the U.S. and U.N. for allegedly supporting al-Shabab, which has vowed to carry out terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil to avenge Kenya’s sending of troops to Somalia. Following the first two killings, Ahmed, also known as Makaburi, told The Associated Press in October that he believed he was marked for death.

“I’m living on borrowed time. The same guy who ordered Aboud Rogo’s death is going to order mine,” Ahmed said. Ahmed had clear links with al-Shabab, said Matt Bryden, the former head of the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea and a top expert on al-Shabab. Bryden said Ahmed’s death may cause the militant group to plan retaliatory attacks against Kenya.

Ahmed had often said he was in danger of being killed by security agents, Mureithi said. He said Ahmed started making those claims soon after he and Mohammed were nearly abducted outside a court building in Nairobi in July 2012.

Mureithi said Ahmed’s last interview with a local TV station in which he appeared to justify the killings of civilians during the September terrorist attack on an upscale mall in Nairobi may have contributed to his death.

Riots broke out in Mombasa after Mohammed was killed in August 2012 and after Sheik Ibrahim Ismael was killed in October. Ahmed was charged with inciting violence. Kenya is still on edge following the September attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall that killed at least 67 people. Since then al-Shabab sympathizers have been blamed for an explosion at Nairobi’s main airport, a grenade attack on tourists on Kenya’s coast, a blast on a bus in Nairobi, and three blasts Monday night in the capital that killed six people.

Authorities said Tuesday they had arrested 657 people following the latest attack. Kenya frequently makes mass arrests after attacks only to release nearly all of those arrested. Last month, police on the coast discovered a car bomb packed with explosives that a police official has said was meant to target a shopping mall. Later in the month gunmen killed six people in a church outside Mombasa.

A senior Kenyan security official said that security agencies believe a large scale attack is imminent. He said because police foiled the planned car bomb in Mombasa, terrorists are more determined to carry out another.

Bryan N. Kahumbura, a Horn of Africa analyst with the International Crisis group, said a mix of issues is fueling the escalation of attacks. The disappearances and executions of Muslim youth suspected of having links to terror are angering the Kenyan Muslim community, Kahumbura said. Many Muslims feel they are being profiled by police, he said.


By Michael Richard (AFP)
Aug 27, 2012

MOMBASA, Kenya — Deadly riots broke out in Kenya’s main port of Mombasa after the assassination of a radical cleric linked to Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-allied Shebab militants.

At least one person was hacked to death as thousands of angry protesters took to the streets after Aboud Rogo Mohammed — who was on US and UN sanction lists for allegedly supporting the Shebab — was shot dead.

“A car behind us aimed at my husband, they shot him on the right side,” said his widow Haniya Said, screaming in grief after the killing by unknown attackers.

“One person has been killed, he was slashed to death during the protests,” said regional police chief Aggrey Adoli.

Cars were set on fire and two churches were looted in the city — Kenya’s main port and a key tourist hub — according to an AFP reporter.

“There is chaos in town now, and our officers are on the ground dispersing the rioters to maintain peace,” added Adoli. “They are demonstrating against the killing of Aboud Rogo, who was shot by unknown people.”

Witnesses said that Mohammed’s car was riddled with bullets, and a photograph released by his supporters showed his bloody corpse slumped behind the wheel of a car.

“He died as we rushed him to hospital. Why have they killed my dear husband?” his widow added, before she and her children were taken to the hospital.

Mohammed was placed on a US sanctions list in July for “engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia”, specifically for recruiting and fundraising for the hardline Shebab.

The United Nations Security Council placed a travel ban and asset freeze on the cleric in July, saying he had provided “financial, material, logistical or technical support to Al-Shebab”.

He was the “main ideological leader” of Kenya’s Al Hijra group, also known as the Muslim Youth Center (MYC), the UN said. The group is viewed as a close ally of the Shebab in Kenya.

Mohammed “used the extremist group as a pathway for radicalization and recruitment of principally Swahili-speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant activity in Somalia”, the UN said.

MYC leader Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali, in a message posted on Twitter, said: “We are on the right track when our leaders get shahadah (martyrdom).”

“He will remain in our hearts forever,” the MYC added, while another message offered the grim warning that the “kuffar (infidels) will pay” for his death.

“The whole city is on fire, there are looters in the streets, cars have been damaged, some have been burnt,” said Francis Auma, from the local organization Muslims for Human Rights.

“An imam in the mosque shouted through the speaker ‘blood for blood’, and immediately youths started stoning cars,” said witness Dennis Odhiambo, whose car was damaged and who was forced to flee into a police station for safety.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga condemned Mohammed’s “horrific” murder, adding the government was “committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice”.

“I appeal to our people not to use this sad act to inflict more pain and suffering on our country,” he said in a statement.

The local Muslim Human Rights Forum also condemned the assassination, claiming it “mirrors” the recent killings or disappearance of others “on the country’s terrorism watch list”.

Mohammed “repeatedly called for the violent rejection of the Somali peace process”, the US Treasury said, noting he had often advocated the use of violence against both the UN and the African Union force battling the Shebab in Somalia.

He “urged his audiences to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shebab’s fight against the Kenyan government”, the Treasury added.

Kenyan police arrested the preacher in January, seizing firearms; ammunition and detonators, but later released him on bail.

He was previously acquitted of the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa which killed 15 people — 12 Kenyans and three Israelis — as well as three suicide bombers.

The cleric is also alleged to have introduced Fazul Abdullah Mohammed — the late head of Al-Qaeda’s east Africa cell, shot dead last year in Somalia’s war-torn capital Mogadishu — to at least one of the men who helped him carry out the twin US embassy bombings in 1998.

The bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed 224 people.

Mohammed, born on Kenya’s Lamu Island, was aged between 43 and 52, according to different aliases.

Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.