A covert security operation over the past two months has cracked into five suspected al Shabaablinked terror cells in Eastleigh and Majengo in Nairobi and two in Mombasa. Highly placed security sources told the People Daily that a multiagency security unit, that started operating in May at the height of explosive devices attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa, has stealthily infiltrated and dismantled the cells which were believed to have been behind the most intense spate of terrors attacks Kenya has seen. “Some have been taken to court, others have fled while others are under surveillance and could soon be arrested,” said the source who is familiar with the operation.
Police believe the cells were being harboured by a cartel of businessmen with links in Garissa and other parts of Kenya’s North-Eastern region and Somalia. “They had been using businesses in Garissa as covers to import explosive hardware from Somalia disguised as business goods,” said the source. “The route of the supplies has been completely cut off by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia, while the operation on the Kenyan side has cracked down on some businesses in Garissa and Eastleigh. We have confiscated a lot of material we believe was to be used in making explosives, some disguised as raw material for cooking oil,” said the source. Police believe the operation has hit the terror networks at the core, noting that the last grenade attack in Mombasa was on May 4, that targeted a bus and in Nairobi, at Gikomba market, on May 16.
Police sources said the special unit had nothing to do with the reported disappearances, saying they were intent on arresting suspected masterminds and taking them to court. Members of the terror cells referred to as ‘Casings’ and
police say they have managed to cut off their their funding by stopping illegal import businesses they operate between
Somalia and Kenya via Garissa.
Other terrors attacks that have lately hit the coast region, in Lamu and Mombasa counties, are not believed to be connected to the cells that have been dismantled. Police sources said the unit has Majengo and another in Likoni. The cell in Likoni is said to have been operating from the home of a passenger transport businessman. Police believe more cells have gone cold in Mombasa after getting wind of the intensified operation. The reports coincided with claims by some residents of Eastleigh who have reported to the police that their relatives, who were businessmen, had disappeared in the past few months.
Disappearances There was no verifiable link between the mysterious disappearances of five businesspeople and the anti-terrorism operation, but the relatives who spoke to our sister TV station K24 demanded answers from the police over what had happened to their kin. All the businessmen were said to have hailed from Garissa and operated cross border import businesses, owning shops in Eastleigh while one ran a bus company. Last Saturday, the mutilated body of Muhamud Abdi Mucracked down on an Eastleighbased cell that was involved in transporting material for assembling explosives, another that harboured the bomb-making experts and one in Majengo that engaged in training and radicalising youth to be used in carrying out attacks. Another cell domiciled in Eastleigh, mainly composed of youth waiting to go on missions, is said to have scattered when they apparently got wind of the crackdown.
The main cell believed to be the nucleus of the attacks, police confide, involved in sourcing funding for operations from Somalia has also been crippled, with its routes and accounts cut out. The police unit against terror cells refers to members of the latter group as ‘Casings’ and say they have managed to cut off their funding by stopping illegal import businesses they operate between Somalia and Kenya, via Garissa.
Two other cells were busted in Mombasa, whose members are said to be radicalised youth and their financiers. One was based in hamud, one of those said to have disappeared from Eastleigh, was found at Masinga Dam nearly a month after he was abducted on June 23 at 11pm. The whereabouts of the others remain unknown. Muhamud was picked by unknown people who reportedly led him to an ATM machine from where they withdrew a huge sum of money from his account using his card.
Police spokesman Mahsud Mwahima yesterday confirmed the five cases of the missing had been reported to the police and said they were under investigation as criminal incidents. He called on relatives to stop speculating and await the outcome of investigations. Another businessman, Abdi Fatah Adan, 31, the manger of Ilsan Luxury Coach, disappeared on May 19, after a similar encounter with people who accosted him at Eastleigh’s Kilimanjaro Hotel and pulled him into a car. The others were said to have been abducted in almost similar circumstances.