BY DOMINIC WABALA
A Yemeni terror suspect arrested by the Anti Terrorism Police Unit in May has revealed how a Kenyan is recruiting both locals and foreigners to fight for Al Shabaab. Fifteen Yemenis, Somalis and a Pakistani were recruited into Al Shabaab and smuggled into Kenya for training and indoctrination earlier this year.
In May Yemeni national Ally Abdulrasoul, 29 years, was arrested by ATPU with four other suspects at a roadblock at the Sabaki bridge on their way to Somalia via the Lamu Kiunga border. Recruits are assembled by a Yemeni named as Sheikh Al Bashir of Sheher in Hadramout province before being transported by boat to Kenya to undergo intensive training at the coast before going to Somalia. Ally told police that he received training for guns, grenades and first aid from a Kenyan man in Mombasa mainland.
They were also taught self-defence and how to immobilize an enemy by hitting them on the back of the neck or head. Ally said the 15 recruits including six Yemenis and four Somalis embarked on the treacherous two day voyage from the Yemeni port of Quisayer on March 1. “We were six Yemenis namely Abdul, Hassan, Abubakar Turbo, Abdulatif, Takque, Zargah, Salim Abdulrazak and one I cannot remember. Faud Ajlan escorted us to the boat and our journey started. The boat was wooden and had Arabic writing Al Barak. The captain was Ismail and had a crew of five,” Abdulrasoul told ATPU detectives in his statement on May 11.
The boat first stopped in the deep ocean to deliver ten 200 litre diesel tanks to armed militia before sailing to Kenyan waters. “When we arrived in Kenya territory, the captain said that we stop in the deep sea to avoid the Kenyan Navy patrol as we wait for smaller boat to ferry us to Kiunga. Some small boat came with people who looked like fishermen and took us to the shores and there was someone waiting with flash lights. We went with him to a house thatched with grass and were told to relax. That was between 10pm and 11pm,” the suspect said in his statement.
Abdulrasoul said that later a lanky bearded man introduced himself as Abdul and told them he would be taking them on a two day journey to Mombasa. To evade police roadblock checks, the suspects disguised themselves as a wedding convoy. “Abdul gave us khat and chewing gum and instructed us to start chewing in order to avoid being noticed by police. We all boarded a Nissan with heavy music and some locals with drums pretending to be coming from a wedding. The road was rough and we passed two check points which we passed through without being detected although the driver gave out some cash to facilitate smooth movement,” the suspect told police.
The group stopped in Malindi for a meal before proceeding to Mombasa and boarding a ferry to Likoni. The recruits were blindfolded but remember being driven on a tarmac road for about thirty minutes before turning left and entering a gate and herded into a big house with many rooms. The recruits were then allegedly received by Sheikh Samir Hussein aka Shamir Hashimu Khan who has been charged for training terrorists and organising criminal activities for Al Shabaab.
Some of the arrested recruits have identified him as the man who received and trained them in preparation for jihad in Somalia. “This training went on for about a week and I do recall that one day Sheikh Hussein came with six AK 47 rifles of different designs. He taught us how to use them and each rifles was assigned to two of us. One of them had a bayonet or knife. After training, the Somali took away the weapons. After three or four days he again came with three grenades which they taught us on its usage and dangers and thereafter, the Somali took them away,” the suspect told police.
The first batch of three Yemenis and a Somali travelled to Somalia in mid April followed by another group of three followed two days later. The last batch of five which was intercepted at the Sabaki bridge in May left Likoni and crossed into Mombasa before boarding a white Toyota Prado. They were joined by two young Kenyan boys and an adult man. Sheikh Samir has two pending cases in Nairobi after he was arrested in Ukunda for the illegal training of youths and possessing offensive weapons like knives. All the cases commenced last year.
According to the Council of Imams and Preachers organising Secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, Samir is a Kenyan of Indian decent but was raised up in Ukunda and speaks Digo. He does not have a mosque in Likoni or Ukunda but goes round preaching in mosques in South Coast. Shamir is not easy to trace as he does not move around with his phones for fear of being tracked by security, according to the CIPK.
He is however connected to the controversial Msikiti Musa mosque in Majengo area, Mombasa. Sheikh Khalifa says Samir resembles Sheikh Aboud Rogo who is also facing security cases in court. The Kenya Muslims Advisory Council National Chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao said Sheikh Samir’s origins are controversial and people rarely want to talk about it.