Few people know the Kenyan Al Shabaab suicide bomber who attacked Kulbiyow better than Embakasi West MP George Theuri. Anwar Yogan Mwok, born Kennedy Mwok, loved football since his childhood days in Umoja 1 Estate where he grew up as a close friend of Mr Theuri, an ardent boxer. “I have his pictures in our family photo album. We were very good friends,” the MP, who confessed he was shocked that Mwok became a suicide bomber, told The Standard in an interview. Mwok was born in Siaya in 1981 before his mother moved to the city and settled in Umoja. Investigations following the deadly attack on the Kenya Defence Forces camp have revealed that Mwok was driving the first truck bomb that exploded, killing soldiers and causing extensive damage. He also did not survive. While their childhood was perfectly normal in the lower middle income neighbourhood, Mwok’s early adulthood was marked by major transformation that started with his conversion to Islam and overnight wealth.
“He had so much money that even I as an elected councilor considered becoming a Muslim,” said the first-time MP who was the counsellor for Umoja 1 Ward between 2007 and 2013. Mwok and his elder brother were ordinary children, raised by a struggling single mother. “They lived in an extension,” Theuri said, referring to the smaller semi-detached houses built by landlords which were never part of the original design of the estate. After completing his primary school education, Mwok went to Ofafa Jericho Secondary School where Theuri was in Form Three and often acted as a big brother. Mwok’s love for football saw him play for his school team, Theuri recalls, and while at home he was enlisted in a neighbourhood club under Mathare Youth Sports Association programme. The highlight of his passion was when he was selected in a team that travelled to Norway, under the youth football talent development programme. He, however, never played as a professional footballer, Mathare United Football Club chief executive Jacktone Obure said.
He explains that the club is a different entity from the youth sports association, although both were founded by Canadian Bob Munro. Around 2002, Mwok, who had already finished his secondary education, ventured into business, selling imported second-hand wares including mobile phones. It is during this time that Theuri suspects Mwok first interacted with radical Islam. His suppliers were thought to be based in Eastleigh, which is still the source of most imported goods including shoes and clothing. In the next few months he left home. His life had improved significantly and money was easy to come by. But his major break is attributed to his entry into the construction business, happening at a time Eastleigh was transforming into a major business hub. Huge commercial buildings were popping up by the day, fast replacing the old mostly one-storey blocks acquired by wealthy Somali businessmen.
Mwok who was still living in Umoja and was easily the most successful among his peers, established a building materials venture that stocked sand and ballast. He acquired three lorries, all bought in cash- according to the MP, to support the main business in Eastleigh and the offshoot in Umoja. But with his new-found wealth, he was also becoming heavily influential and even set up a make-shift mosque where he led a break away faction of the Muslim community in Umoja. Mwok married his second wife Shamim Wanjiru Hussein, who had also converted to Islam, joined Al Shabaab and rose in the rank of female jihadists. Currently, Shamim is in Somalia where she is thought to be a key figure in the terror group. It is believed that Mwok helped radicalise dozens of young men from poor households, who envied his business acumen. His mother had moved houses severally to more spacious rented accommodation, before building her new home further outside the city. Mwok was also among the first people to buy land in a prime residential estate near Umoja called Nasra Gardens, where he put up a huge home that he however never occupied. Older members of the community were getting increasingly uncomfortable with his radical teachings but in defiance, he held that it was the conservative Muslims who should leave and possibly join another mosque. Theuri, then as the councillor, was asked to help solve the emerging standoff that was also worrying the police – specifically the deputy Officer Commanding Station at Buru Buru who was Muslim.
Sometimes in 2011, Mwok disappeared amid an increasingly nervous neighbourhood. Kenyan soldiers had just entered Somalia to pursue the militants, who had staged attacks and abductions inside Kenya. Mwok’s mother told neighbours that he had moved his construction business to Juba, South Sudan, whose real estate market was booming. It emerged later that Mwok was in Somalia and had joined the Al Shabaab together with tens or possibly hundreds of his recruits. Intelligence reports suggest that Mwok’s nearly-completed house in Nasra Gardens was recently sold and the money wired to him to support the activities of the terror group. Police believe that the mother manages several properties owned by her fugitive sons and herself from which she has been collecting rent and remitting to Somalia. “The properties, which are registered under her son’s name, include a residential house in Umoja and a one-storey commercial building at Nasra area in Nairobi,” the report released for the first time last month says. According to the report, the woman has sent over Sh4 million to Mwok in Somalia since 2013.
SOURCE: Standard Newspaper