The Al Shabaab militia is known for its notorious-ness to launch sporadic attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. In their series of audio and video releases, the militants are seen calling for worldwide attacks on countries they term ‘enemies’.
Even as the militia group rapidly diminishes, recent weeks have seen multiple arrests of Al Shabaab sympathisers, facilitators and even recruiters. Following multiple tip-offs by members of the public, security agencies have managed to foil attacks on the country either ready for execution or in the planning stage where security agencies have cracked down on fake documentation, attack plans and weaponry.
Men and women captured in the massive clampdown as Al Shabaab facilitators or sympathisers have been confirmed to be masquerading as legit business owners and some even job agents in estates and in the Central Business District.
A case of Francis Macharia Karishu, owner of Paste Printers in Nairobi’s Luthuli Avenue is evidence that the new modus operandi adopted by terrorists can almost go undetected if individuals are not vigilant and aware of their environment.
Operating as a print business owner, Karishu would engage in printing of fake identity cards, bank cheques, title deed forms, birth certificates and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education certificates among other documents.
The illegal business would earn him a few dimes but what business owners neighbouring him would not know is that most of the clients walking in and out of Paste Printers were members of the Al Shabaab and Karishu was part of an attack on Nairobi that would have gone down as the worst terrorist attack in Kenya’s history.
Fatma Zainabu an Islam convert originating from the western part of Kenya was one of the five women arrested in Nairobi’s Eastleigh for housing Al Shabaab militants, even though she claims to be innocent and unaware that the young men are part of the Al Qaeda linked militia.
Car hire company owners have also been put on notice for providing transport facilitation to the Al Shabaab. In cases the individuals have denied being part of attack plans and execution, the question of correct documentation issuance has been brought up. The forces have argued that correct business processes include issuance of Identity cards hence business owners should demand for original identification to curb impersonation.
Some of those in police custody are sympathisers who provided housing for Al Shabaab members and fugitives in parts of Nairobi in exchange of money. Police have arrested suspects for questioning including hotel owners and amenity owners where the terrorists may have made transactions.
Most of these culprits are in custody in different parts of the country awaiting judgement, having being denied bail because of the nature of crime they intended to commit.