August 27, 2012
Kenyan Islamist cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who was on international sanction lists for supporting the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab organisation, was shot dead Monday (August 27th) during a drive-by shooting in Mombasa.
Witnesses said the car was riddled with bullets. A photograph released by his supporters showed his bloody corpse slumped behind the wheel of a car.
"He died as we rushed him to hospital," said his widow Haniya Said, according to AFP, before she and her children were taken to the hospital.
Mohammed's death sparked thousands of angry protesters to gather around the mosque where he had often preached, setting fire to vehicles and chanting slogans in his support, AFP reported.
"An imam in the mosque shouted through the speaker 'blood for blood', and immediately youths started stoning cars", said witness Dennis Odhiambo, whose car was damaged, and was forced to flee into a police station for safety.
Regional police chief Aggrey Adoli said, "One person has been killed, he was slashed to death during the protests."
"There is chaos in town now, and our officers are on the ground dispersing the rioters to maintain peace," Adoli said.
"The whole city is on fire, there are looters in the streets, cars have been damaged, some have been burnt," said Francis Auma, from the local organisation Muslims for Human Rights.
Mohammed was placed on a US sanctions list in July for "engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia", specifically for recruiting and fundraising for al-Shabaab.
Mohammed "urged his audiences to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabaab's fight against the Kenyan government", the US Treasury said.
The United Nations Security Council placed a travel ban and an asset freeze on Mohammed in July, saying he had provided "financial, material, logistical or technical support to al-Shabaab".
He was the "main ideological leader" of Kenya's al-Hijra group, also known as the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC)", the UN said. The group is considered a close ally of al-Shabaab in Kenya.
Mohammed "used the extremist group as a pathway for radicalisation and recruitment of principally Swahili-speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant activity in Somalia", according to the UN.
On its Twitter account, the MYC offered the grim warning that the "kuffar [unbelievers] will pay" for Mohammed's death. With a photograph of a car bomb burning in the street, the MYC said, "Just the start of what to come or not?"
"MYC has sent messages to the mujahideen in Tanzania about reports of Sheikh Rogo's death," the group said, indicating it may be expanding its retaliation outside Kenya.
MYC leader Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali said in a message posted on Twitter, "We are on the right track when our leaders get shahadah [martyrdom]."
"He will remain in our hearts forever," the MYC added.
Kenyan police arrested Mohammed in January, seizing firearms, ammunition and detonators. He appeared before a Mombasa court August 14th on charges of planning attacks in public places.
Mohammed was charged with six counts related to illegal possession of firearms, for which he pleaded not guilty and was later released on a 5-million-shilling ($60,000) bail. The case was adjourned and another hearing scheduled for October 15th.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council Committee imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, an MYC leader and "close associate" of Mohammed.
"Ahmed is a leading facilitator and recruiter of young Kenyan Muslims for violent militant activity in Somalia," the committee said in a report released August 23rd.
"He provides material support to extremist groups in Kenya (and elsewhere in East Africa)," it said. "Through his frequent trips to al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, including Kismayo, he has been able to maintain strong ties with senior al-Shabaab members."
"Ahmed has preached at mosques in Mombasa that young men should travel to Somalia, commit extremist acts, fight for al-Qaeda and kill US citizens," according to the report.
As of 2010, Ahmed has acted as a recruiter and facilitator for al-Shabaab in the Majengo area of Mombasa, the report said.
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