I am sorry! I was duped to join Al Shabaab

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My name is Omar Gitonga Kamau. I am Muslim convert and was born 28 years ago as Timothy Gitonga Kamau in Witeithie area, Kiambu County. My parents relocated to Majengo Nairobi when I was 5 years old.

I joined a local Government primary school in the area in 1995 where I studied and attained 252 marks out of 500 and joined a nearby secondary school. I completed my O-level exams in 2006 and attained a mean aggregate of C+ (Plus).

Though I had attained a university minimum entry grade, my parents were unable to support me join a technical college to pursue a Diploma course in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Indeed, my dreams were completely shuttered.

I started to hustle in the nearby electronic shops and sometimes would meet some childhood friends and former classmates who were working in town. My former classmates would tease me of my secondary grades that I scored and they would tell me I will work for them because they were successful even though they failed in the national exams. They would often say;

Buda! Sisi tulidunda exam. Wewe ulipass na uko hapa ukituomba works? Chukua bucket uoshe hapa nje. Hatutaki ma-chopi hapa!  

The irony was too much handle. I became so stressed and swore I would do anything to make ends meet. As fate would have it, one day, I met a Muslim guy named Abdiaziz Mohamed Mohamud better known as Aziz who was working in Masjid Riyadha Mosque in Majengo. Aziz was a friendly and generous person offered to help me get a job on condition that I converted to Islam. I did not agree to his offer immediately so I asked him for more time to think about it.

I actually took a week to ponder on the offer from Aziz. I did not involve my parents or any of my relatives in making the decision. I convinced myself that if converting to Islam was the only way out of my problems, so be it. One evening, I approached Aziz and told him I was ready to be a Muslim convert. He gladly embraced me and thanked me for the wise choice. He said “Kaka, wewe ni simba, kazi ushapata”, loosely translated as “Brother, you are a lion. You have got the job.”

My journey to becoming a Muslim convert started the following morning when Aziz invited me to his house which was a stone throw away from the Mosque. In the house, I met two other lads who were introduced to me by Aziz. He told us to feel free with each other and promised that he would take us to the mosque that afternoon to which we obliged.

The three of us had great time mingling until noon when our host Aziz told us to be ready. When the time came, Aziz led us to Riyadha Mosque and we were given a warm reception. He (Aziz) instructed us to remain calm and wait for the Sheikh who was going to offer us the job. He told us the Sheikh was to see us after Zuhr prayer which we came to learn that it meant noon prayers.

It was half past noon, when a Sheikh clad in white gown came and met us. He said his name was Sheikh Abdulrahaman Ali. We also introduced ourselves with our Christian names to which the Sheikh told us to stop using them because we were now converts. He gave me the name Omar but said I can retain the other two Kikuyu names hence Omar Gitonga kamau became my official name.

Sheikh Abdurahaman started to teach us on the foundations of Islam such as the five pillars of Islam, the five daily prayers and the basics beliefs of Islam. The Sheikh also instructed us to learn more from the Quran. We did the Islamic lessons for two weeks until when Sheikh Abdulrahaman was convinced that we understood the Quran very well.

It was during one of the lessons when Sheikh Abdulrahaman started to teach us about the importance of Hijra and Jihad. He told us that as Muslims, we should abide by the calling of Allah (Swt) to do Jihad. He said that the horn of Africa country, Somalia, was a good place to participate in Jihad. Sheikh Abdulrahaman told us that his ‘brothers’ in Somalia were ready to offer us a lucrative job where we would earn two thousand dollars ($2000) per month.

The offer of 2000 dollars per month was confusing. I quickly did my calculations and to my surprise, it was a whooping Ksh 200,000 per month. Where on earth would a form four leaver make that amount per month? I mumbled “Mungu ni mkuu” (God is great). I knew the gates of the dream that got shuttered earlier on after clearing secondary school were being re-opened. I didn’t want to wait for long. I wanted to be in Somalia as soon as possible.

Sheikh Abdulrahaman told us that we were going to meet his brothers in Somalia in three days. My friend, Aziz later came and told us we go home. Aziz told us not to tell anyone about the offer from the Sheikh Abdulrahaman and assured us that we were going to enjoy the benefits if we kept everything to ourselves. We promised him that we were going to be tight lipped about the offer. He asked us to meet him after three days in his house.

I went back home and informed my parents that after three days, I would go see a friend who was residing outside Nairobi. Though my parents were hesitant, I had to convince them on the importance of going to meet him. Little did they know that I was a Muslim convert and I was travelling to Somalia.

My journey to Somalia started at dawn. I woke up at 5 a.m and did my morning prayer (Fajr). I bid farewell to my parents early that morning and I went to Aziz’s house. I met my other friends and Aziz instructed us to go meet Sheikh Abdulrahaman. As time went by, I knew in a month, I would be Ksh.200, 000 richer. We met Sheikh Abdulrahaman waiting for us outside the Mosque. The five of us took a cab and went to Eastleigh.

We immediately boarded a bus that was waiting for us heading to Garissa. Sheikh Abdulrahaman had earlier given us Ksh1000 each for lunch. He told us that someone by the name Mohamed Abdi would meet us once we reached Garissa town.

No sooner had we reached Garissa town bus stop than we met Abdi waiting for us. He instantly recognized us since we were the only three people who were not of Somali decent. He jovially received us and immediately directed us to a car parked outside a supermarket. He told us he had bought enough food that would be enough for our journey to the ‘promised’ land.

A few kilometres from the town, a tarmac road came to an end and we ushered in a long and meandering rough road that was craggy and tiresome but Abdi kept telling us that we were hours away from instant riches. I must admit the anticipation in us made the journey interesting.

It took six hours from Garissa town to reach Liboi border town. Abdi told us that he was going to pick our ‘employer’ who was somewhere in the town. He instructed us to remain in the car as he alighted. We chose not to raise any eyebrows and so we remained inside the tinted car.

Abdi took 20 minutes and came back with a smartly dressed middle aged Somali man. He introduced himself as Sheikh Osman Khuno and told us he was our employer. He told us we would be working in Jilib town. Though he did not give many details, he said we were going to evade security check points so that we could reach safely.

We begun our journey from Liboi town and we entered Somalia. We immediately deviated from the main road. The route that we took was so frightening. It was so dust and Sheikh Khuno was very quiet. The only sound we could hear was that of the car. I knew things were not ok but I comforted myself.

Suddenly Sheikh Khuno spoke and told us we were almost Jilib town. That is the only time he talked while we were inside the car. He removed his mobile phone and made a call. He spoke in Somali and none of us understood what he told the receiver on the other end. In less than five minutes, we arrived at Jilib town.

To our surprise, we were received by more than five men all armed and dressed in a strange way. Sheikh Khuno told us that they were his bodyguards. What clicked my mind is that, we were duped and now we are joining the Al Shabaab terrorist group. Sheikh Khuno without hesitation told us that he was an Al Shabaab commander and the job he wanted us to do was to fight the apostate Somali Federal Government and the kuffars by the name AMISOM especially Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). I immediately regretted my decision.

Sheikh Khuno actually handed us over to his bodyguards and they immediately bungled us into old looking house in the middle of the town. They mistreated us a lot by kicking us like soccer balls. They told us we had only two options; to either accept join the fight against the kuffars or they would kill us. The oppression was too much to handle. We had to accept join them in ‘their’ fight.

The four weeks we spent inside the old looking house seemed like four years. We were brutally tortured and forced to learn how to use the different weapons they had at their disposal. They would sometimes make us starve for days. We would only see the beam of light through the holes. At night, we would only hear people talking in low tones.  Although the three of us were in the same house, we rarely talked to each other. We blamed our greed for money to be the sole reason for our predicament.

It was after the fourth week that Sheikh Khuno came and told us that he had planned a raid that evening against the KDF and the three of us were expected to participate. He told us to corporate with other fighters and promised us that we will get Ksh. 100,000 each if we came back with a head of a KDF soldier. He nicknamed us ‘The Three Kenyan Lions’.

Hours before the attack, I wondered how I would face the mighty KDF with the weaponry they had. Even though I did not talk to my two friends, I had to come up with a plan of running away from Al Shabaab.

The raid that night didn’t go as planned. We only conducted a probing attack in one of the KDF defensive position. The KDF alertness and their artillery firepower made us scamper for safety. We were squarely pinned down. We had to pull back.

My plans to run away from Al Shabaab camp were slowly gathering pace. We had conducted more than three raids in a month and what we got was a thorough beating from the AMISOM forces. We, the Al Shabaab fighters were being killed as cockroaches. I was in too much stress. I didn’t want to die a young man.

It was a Saturday morning when I got a chance to run away. We were tasked by Sheikh Khuno to collect firewood. I knew this was my best chance to get away from the evil Al Shabaab. I knew if they detected my plans, they would kill me. As a norm, we used to go in groups of three used in order to defeat detection from locals. That day, I was lucky to be given two fighters who were younger than me. Sheikh Khuno gave me the task of being their commander.

On our way to collecting firewood, I told them to move ahead like 100 meters. I was expected to give them full support in case of attacks behind them. They accepted my plan and I was left behind slowly following them. Little did they know that I was getting away from them. In less than 10 minutes, I was off their radar. I started manoeuvring my way out. I would hide behind the scanty bushes in case I sensed danger.

I walked like 20 kilometres and noticed that I was near a Government security checkpoint. Since I wanted to be exonerated from Al Shabaab, I decided to surrender to them. It was not an easy decision. I was almost shot at the moment I reached the checkpoint. I rose up my hands and one of them grabbed me from behind. They handcuffed me and immediately transferred me to a KDF camp nearby.

I was interrogated by KDF intelligence officers and frankly narrated to them on how I was duped to join Al Shabaab. I also told them about my parents who were residing in Majengo. The KDF officers never mistreated me. They gave me hopes of coming back to Kenya. They made sure I was given enough food to eat and healthy.

After two days, a Kenya Air Force helicopter and airlifted me to Moi Air Base Eastleigh where I was received by my parents and interior security senior officers. I was taken to the Ministry of Interior Security where I was also interrogated and assured of my security. In a nutshell, the ministry officials regarded me as one of the key members in Kenya’s fight against youth radicalisation and terrorism.

I sincerely apologise to my parents and Kenyans at large. I never knew I was being radicalised in Majengo. I will never allow any youth in Kenya to be radicalised. I will always remain a patriotic Kenyan and will always prevent it from Al Shabaab cowards and liars.

Kidnapped: Inside Al-Shabaab’s Abduction of Women and Young Girls

The Boni Forest is a dense locale that straddles the borderlands of Somalia in its Lamu County. This thick landscape has become an ideal hideout for perhaps one of the most brutal Islamic militant organizations in the world – Al-Shabaab. From their encampments, they plan and launch attacks into Kenya. This area is also used as a pipeline for the abduction and transportation of young girls and women, who are ultimately forced to become wives and sex slaves for Al-Shabaab’s male members.

They tactics used to abduct women and girls are both difficult to detect and even more troublesome to thwart. For their strongholds, Al-Shabaab sends out its “recruiter” to lure women, both young and old, Muslim and non-Muslim into their fold through abduction or deception. Some are taken forcibly and others are convinced with ruses that range from the women’s willingness to join their jihad, to the possibility of work elsewhere. Victims are promises high-paid work in another town or abroad and then kidnapped.

Not all of these women are coerced with the promise of work. Some joined voluntarily to engage in the groups  jihad against the Kenyan government. However, even in these cases, many of these women found that their purpose was not to be recruited as soldiers, but to be forced into marriage or sex slavery. It has been reported that victims, who had willingly joined the group regret their actions.

Al-Shabaab’s  relative success in pulling off such brazen kidnapping and luring operations should be considered  fearsome. As with other organizations of their ilk, Al Shabaab reverts to a common modus operandi for their successful procurement of victims. As with similar groups such as  Boko Haram, ISIS, and Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab seeks out countries like Kenya and Somalia to establish their strongholds. Countries like Kenya and Somalia that have been strangled by poverty, and are often ruled by corrupt or failing governments and have scarce services, jobs, educational opportunities.  They are therefore prime locations for groups like Al-Shabaab to find a ready supply of victims. And in areas where the need, desire, and desperation for betterment grows, so too grows the difficulty for women to resist the lure of higher-paying work or getting paid as a member of Al-Shabaab.

Kenya has been engaged in direct confrontation with Al-Shabaab for at least 6 years. They join several other nations in the fight against Al-Shabaab, as part of the African Union forces and engage in their own operations against the terror organization.

As more is being learned about Al-Shabaab’s reprehensible operations, some even more disturbing revelations about their methods and motives are coming to light. As part of their efforts to abduct or lure women and young girls as wives or sex slaves, their additional purpose seems to include the desire to breed their next generation of fighters. Women who have either escaped or been rescued from the terror group, have been repeatedly raped, forced to enter marriage with Al-Shabaab members and purposefully impregnated.

In many cases, they were informed that their purpose was to breed the next generation of jihadists. In Charlotte Attwood’s article, The Sex Slaves of Al Shabaab, she interviewed women who managed to escape from the terror organization, who made it clear that, “there is an organized programme to breed the next generation of fighters.” The terror group admitted to these women that it is difficult to recruit others from the camps in Somalia, and that “children are easier to indoctrinate.”

Oddly enough, the arabic name Al-Shabaab, literally translates to ‘The Youth.’ It is therefore not beyond reason that Al-Shabaab should strive to create its own next generation of fighters. The Islamic fundamentalist group has been well-known to target young boys and adolescents, and either convert them to Islam through education and proselytizing, or abducting young people from their homes and schools and forcing them to fight with Al-Shabaab. Boys as young as 10 years old have been forced to join the ranks of the group and the Somali government is well-aware of Al-Shabaab’s recruitment targets and techniques, since every year, hundreds of children flee areas where the terror group has assumed control. As of August 2017, the Somali government estimates that at least 100 children have escaped from Al-Shabaab controlled areas to avoid conscription. In addition, the terror group has been known to use children in roles as scouts, informants, spies as well as in combat roles.

To swell their ranks with newer and fresher recruits, the Al-Shabaab leadership seems to feel that preaching Wahhabism or abducting children is not enough. They also need to have women and young girls to accomplish their insidious goal.

Both the Kenyan and Somali governments have struggled to track down both the recruiters and victims that have been kidnapped or lured by the terror organization. One of the difficulties in apprehending suspected recruiters and rescuing captive women is getting these women to come forward and speak openly about their ordeal. Kenya, Somalia, and the African Union Armies vigorous effort to eradicate the group, has made some women feel as though they may be considered former Al-Shabaab members, instead of  victims of the terror group’s atrocities. Some Kenyan officials admit this may be a possibility. More needs to be done to ensure that these women are protected and free to share their ideal in order to aid with freeing other victims and holding Al- Shabaab accountable.

Source: https://thebestofafrica.org

AL SHABAB SPIES ARRESTED IN NAIROBI

Sixteen aliens of Somali origin were arrested in Ruiru along Thika road after the bus they were travelling in was intercepted by police. The driver and conductor of Zafex bus company were ferrying the aliens from Hagadera refugee camp to Nairobi. The main suspects, the driver and conductor were found with with fake Kenyan Identification Cards, several Safaricom lines registered using fake names. Police investigations have revealed that safaricom lines, were used to send money to persons involved in terror activities. This incident brings to focus the phenomenon involving aliens infiltrating the country from neighboring Somalia. Cases of alien trafficking have increased in the country as funds from this criminal activity is used to facilitate terrorism in Somalia.The  aliens use their illegally acquired documents to open accounts, register for m-pesa, register sim cards, enroll in local learning institutions , travel abroad and apply for local jobs, thus posing a serious threat to the country’s national security. A multi-agency operation launched on all buses plying the DADAAB-GARISSA-NAIROBI route has established that some bus companies operating between Garissa and Nairobi have been engaging in alien trafficking.Garissa bus

Moroccan imam at centre of Spain terror cell had links with Madrid bombers and Belgium

The imam believed to be the ringleader of the Spain attackers had links with the 2004 Madrid bombers and recently travelled to Belgium, it has emerged.

Investigators are piecing together the background of Isis supporters who launched two deadly attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils as the driver of the van used to kill 13 people remains at large.

Police say they cannot rule out the possibility that Younes Abouyaaquoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan who could be the only surviving member of the terror cell, has escaped into France and travelled onwards through Europe.

The investigation into the attacks has spread to several countries recently visited by attackers, including Morocco, France and Switzerland.

Belgian media reported that the suspected ringleader of the attack, Moroccan imam Abdelbaki Es Satty, spent at least three months in the country.

The mayor of Vilvoorde, once a notorious jihadi hub, confirmed Es Satty lived in the city from January to March 2016 – the month that saw Isis’ attacks launched in nearby Brussels – but the Belgian immigration minister said he was not registered with authorities.

Hans Bonte said Es Satty attempted to work at mosques in the city but was refused by community members who reported his arrival to the police.

Belgian authorities said they contacted their Catalan counterparts for information but were told he was not known to be radicalised, De Redactie reported.

The imam is not believed to have been under surveillance by Spanish security services, despite his apparent extremist connections following a period in prison in 2012.

Acquaintances of Es Satty said he was not religious until being jailed for smuggling hashish and meeting Rachid Aglif, who was serving time for his part in the al-Qaeda inspired Madrid bombings.

In 2015 he started teaching at a mosque in Ripoll, the quiet Spanish town home to most of the Spain attackers.

Friends and relatives said the plotters, including a waiter and extreme sports instructor, appeared to lead normal lives until they started attending Es Satty’s sermons.

A woman who knew members of the cell said the imam repeatedly preached about jihad and killing “infidels”, adding: “I feel like I could have done something. I feel a little bit guilty now.

“Everybody knew it. It was an open secret. But I can’t say it because these people are dangerous and they could come after me. I don’t trust anybody now.”

Leaders of Es Satty’s former mosque denounced the terror attacks, but denied the preacher was anything other than “a normal imam”.

At least three sets of brothers and cousins were among the cell’s alleged members – a pattern previously seen among large groups of European foreign fighters joining Isis in Syria and in terror attacks including Paris, Brussels and Boston.

Only one, suspected van driver Abouyaaqoub, is known to remain alive after fleeing from the scene of the rampage that left 13 people dead and more than 100 injured on La Rambla.

Family members told Reuters that Abouyaaqoub started showing more religiously conservative behaviour within the past year, refusing to shake hands with women during a visit to his birthplace in Morocco in March.

They expressed shock and anger after discovering his alleged involvement in the Barcelona attack, with his mother, Hannou Ghanimi, telling reporters in she wanted her son to give himself up to police and would rather see him in prison than dead.

His brother, El Houssaine, and first cousins Mohamed and Omar Hichami were killed alongside Moussa Oukabir and Said Aalla by police in the second ramming attack in the resort town of Cambrils.

Es Satty was one of at least two plotters killed in an accidental explosion that destroyed a house they were using as a bomb factory in Alcanar on Wednesday night.

There are reports that possible bomb maker Youssef Aalla may have died in the explosion that wounded fellow plotter Mohamed Chemlal.

He has been detained alongside Driss Oukabir, Mohammed Aalla and Salh el Karib.

Police said traces of the volatile explosive TATP, used in Isis’ Manchester, Paris and Brussels attacks, was found alongside around 120 bottles of gas in the ruins in Alcanar.

Josep Lluis Trapero, the head of Catalonia’s police force, said the original plan to create huge vehicle bombs was foiled by the accidental blast, which rushed plotters into “rudimentary” assaults the following day.

“Our thesis is that the group had planned one or more attacks with explosives in the city of Barcelona,” Mr Trapero said.

He would not confirm that Abouyaaquoub was behind the wheel in Barcelona but confirmed that officials did not know where he or the driver are.

Asked whether Abouyaaquoub could have crossed into France, he replied: ”We don’t have any specific information on this but it cannot be ruled out.”

It would not be the first time a terrorist has managed to flee across borders in the immediate aftermath of an attack.

Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam was driven through a police checkpoint into Belgium on the night of Isis’ November 2015 massacres, while Berlin attacker Anis Amri managed to reach Italy before being shot dead by police.

Carles Puigdemont, the head of the Catalan government, denied reports that the CIA warned local police that Barcelona could be Isis’ next target.

Catalonia has become increasingly known as a centre of extremism, with almost one third of Isis-linked arrests in Spain made there, according to an analysis by a Spanish think tank.

A 2007 cable from the US State Department warned of the risk of radicalisation in Catalonia and called for a regional counter-terror hub to be set up in Barcelona.

The missive, which was later published by Wikileaks, said Spanish and American authorities had identified the region as a “major Mediterranean centre of radical Islamist activity” that had become a “magnet for terrorist recruiters”.

Officials said Catalonia housed al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam recruiters, as well as a terror cell including an unnamed imam arrested earlier that year.

The State Department cited men with a North African background at particular risk for radicalisation in “circumstances would provide fertile ground for terrorist recruitment”, adding: “The threat is clear.”

The cable described Catalonia as “a prime base of operations for terrorist activity” but claimed Spanish authorities had little intelligence on or ability to penetrate the groups.

Questions remain over how the cell of more than a dozen plotters were able to plan multiple and sophisticated terror attacks without detection, and on the extent of Isis’ involvement in the massacres.

Source: Independent

Selfless heroism! Policeman runs with 9kg live bomb on his back to save 400 school children

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Constable Patel pictured taking the heroic action.
A policeman in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has won praise after running with a 9kg live bomb on his back to save over 400 school children. Constable Abhishek Patel took the selfless and heroic action after the bomb was found at a school in the village of Chitora recently. He ran as far away as he could with the explosive device, which had the capacity to cause damage around a 457-meter radius.

He then threw it in a drain away from both the school and neighboring residential areas.
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The device posed a risk to over 400 school children
In an interview, he said: “I wanted to take the bomb away from the school and the residential area in order to reduce the danger of collateral damage if the bomb exploded.”
Investigations are ongoing to establish who planted the device at the school. Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan awarded Patel Ksh81,000 for his bravery. The dad-of-two admitted that it was a risky move but said he had to take it because anything could have happened. His main focus was on saving the children.
Source: Tuko News

Islamic State’s latest video features what it says is a child of a U.S. soldier

la-1503590952-rq09z3x9mw-snap-image.jpgAn image from an Islamic State video purporting to show the child of an American speaking from Raqqah, Syria. (Islamic State)

Islamic State’s slick propaganda videos have long included children, but its latest offering purports to show something different: an American child and supposed son of a U.S. soldier threatening President Trump.

The seven-minute video, titled “The Fertile Nation,” centers on a 10-year-old boy, identified only as Yousef, who says he moved with his mother to areas controlled by Islamic State two years ago.

“My father is an American soldier who fought the mujahideen [holy warriors] in Iraq,” Yousef, speaking with an American accent, says to the camera.

“I didn’t know much about Islam except the name. But when me and Mom came to the Islamic State, we started to learn the correct Islamic creed.”

The boy speaks rapidly and somewhat mechanically, as if reciting a memorized speech. He says he is in Raqqah, the Syrian city that is Islamic State’s de facto capital. Clips of him are interspersed between footage of airstrikes on what is identified as Raqqah, which has been the target of a wide-scale U.S.-backed campaign to dislodge the jihadis.

While the child speaks primarily in English, he also uses some Arabic words, which he pronounces with what sounds like a native Levantine accent.

Yousef is also seen among Islamic State fighters preparing antiaircraft cannons and donning what appear to be suicide belts.

Later on, Yousef, who is shown playing with another child, said to be an Iraqi from the Sinjar region, complains about the strikes as numbers of casualties flash on the screen and he speaks directly to President Trump.

“This is my message to Trump, the puppet of the Jews,” says Yousef. “This battle is not going to end in Raqqah or Mosul. It’s going to end in your hands.” Mosul is the Iraqi city that was recently retaken from Islamic State.

The video was released Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times could not verify any of the claims made in it, including the background of the child.

Heather Nauert, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said at a news briefing Wednesday that she could not confirm that the child was an American..

“First and foremost, any child used in that capacity in an ISIS video, regardless of what is being done, is sick,” said Nauert, referring to Islamic State by one of its acronyms.

“We’ve seen ISIS use children the ages of some of our own children here as suicide bombers, as homicide bombers. It’s sick, it’s depraved, and it is another example of just how wrong and how evil ISIS is.”

Source: Los Angeles News