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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kenyan police arrest eight terror suspects over threats by Somalia's Al-Shabab

Kenyan daily newspaper The Star

April  23,

Eight terror suspects have been arrested in Kenya as police intelligence revealed a possible planned attack by the Somali Al-Shabab militia group in Nairobi.

At least three suspected masterminds of the planned Easter attacks are said to be already in Nairobi where attacks were to be launched in selected public places over the weekend.

Al-Shabab has several grievances against Kenya, top on the list being the training of Somalia government police and army officers in Kenya and the launch of attacks on the Al-Shabab by Ethiopian and Somali government troops from Kenya's territory.

Kenya Police on Thursday issued an alert warning there may be attacks in crowded places like churches and shopping malls this weekend.

Kenya was first attacked by terror bombers on 7 August 1998 when militants linked to the Al-Qa'idah network blew up the American embassy, killing over 200 people. [Passage omitted, background on previous attacks]

The Star yesterday established that police are questioning one Yusuf Salih Ali who was arrested in Liboi [border with Somalia] after he was found in possession of wires, gun powder and other accessories used in making hand grenades.

Investigations by The Star revealed that Ali had a Sudanese passport which according to North Eastern police officer Leo Nyangesa had not been stamped at the Namanga border point [with Tanzania] through which he is believed to have entered the country.

Internal Security Minister Orwa Ojode confirmed that police have mounted a search for the suspected three bomb plotters hiding in Nairobi and called on the public to report any suspicious characters.

Ojode said Kenya has sought support from security agencies of countries such as the United States in a concerted effort to fight any terrorist groups.

Even closed circuit TV cameras are being used to ensure nothing is left to chance.

Ojode revealed that the foreigners working with dozens of co-opted Kenyan youth already trained in Somaliland by the Al-Shabab.

"Police are trailing the suspected terror masterminds. They are three suspicious characters who may have entered the country through the porous borders and are now hiding in Nairobi," Ojode said.

Police commissioner Matthew Iteere revealed the terrorists were targeting crowded places in Nairobi.

"The places targeted include shopping malls, places of worship, government buildings and recreational areas," the police boss said.

Other places said to be targeted are the bus stops within the central business district. The management of businesses within the targeted areas, according to Iteere, have been contacted and advised to enhance security.

Yesterday, contingents of police in civilian clothes were on high alert in shopping malls in Karen, City Centre, Ongata Rongai, Thika Road, Westlands, Ngong Road, Nairobi West and Langata Road.

The eight suspects were arrested at the Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia borders in the last two weeks.

The recruitment of Kenyans by Al-Shabab is said to be worrying the government as it makes the anti-terrorism war much more complicated.

An official within the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit revealed that several suspects have been released after intelligence reports linking them to terror activities were found to be false.

The Star has established that National Counter Terrorism Centre has prepared reports on counter terrorism in Kenya's airports.

Nairobi police chief Anthony Kibuchi yesterday said police are on high alert and more officers have been deployed to patrol the city centre and the outskirts.

Security vetting at the Jomo Kenyatta airport has also been tightened.


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