Kenya raises alert for al-Shabaab terror plot

By Bosire Boniface in Garissa

August 27, 2013

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Al-Shabaab may be plotting terrorist attacks in Kenya to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the assassination of extremist cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed, security officials warned.

  • Kenyan anti-riot police patrol outside Masjid mosque in Mombasa, on August 31, 2012. Riots broke out in the port city after the killing of radical cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed. [Simon Maina/AFP]

    Kenyan anti-riot police patrol outside Masjid mosque in Mombasa, on August 31, 2012. Riots broke out in the port city after the killing of radical cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed. [Simon Maina/AFP]

  • Rioters in Mombasa burned this van during a deadly and destructive wave of violence that followed the August 27, 2012, killing of radical cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed. [AFP]

    Rioters in Mombasa burned this van during a deadly and destructive wave of violence that followed the August 27, 2012, killing of radical cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed. [AFP]

Kenyan security officials last week placed citizens on alert, saying the Somali militant group could be targeting Mombasa, the coastal city where the cleric preached and where he was killed in a drive-by shooting on August 27, 2012.

Authorities raised the security level after receiving intelligence reports that at least five al-Shabaab fighters had crossed into Kenya from Somalia, Coast region Police Chief Aggrey Adoli told Sabahi.

"[The individuals] entered Mombasa on or about August 18th and they are expected to team up with others in Mombasa to carry out attacks," he said. "As Kenyans go about their routine activities, they should be conscious about the group's evil intentions."

"We have specific targets the militants are eyeing, including hotels, churches, police stations and security officers. We will not name the places but we have deployed security officers to the targets and increased security patrols to counter the plans," Adoli said.

At least two clerics are under police surveillance, as security reports indicated that they were possibly co-ordinating the planned attacks, he said.

Although the reports indicated that al-Shabaab was targeting Mombasa, Kenyan citizens in other cities as well should be vigilant for signs of terrorist plots, the police chief said.

One-year anniversary of Rogo assassination

Officials issued the alert for Mombasa days before the one-year anniversary of Rogo's death.

Rogo was on a United Nations Security Council sanctions list because of alleged ties to both al-Shabaab and Kenya's al-Hijra group -- also known as the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC). His killing sparked deadly riots in Mombasa that led to the destruction of businesses and burning of churches.

After the riots, the Kenyan government formed a taskforce headed by Deputy Public Prosecutor Jacob Ondari to investigate Rogo's killing. Ondari announced Monday (August 26th) that the taskforce was unable to identify those who carried out Rogo's assassination.

The timing of the latest plot could be planned to coincide with the anniversary, Mombasa County Police Commander Robert Kitur told Sabahi.

"We are aware that al-Shabaab is targeting local and international functions that are highly populated," he said, calling on the community to co-operate with police to help thwart the threat.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend the Mombasa port inauguration Wednesday and preside over the Mombasa International Show, an agricultural fair taking place August 28th-September 1st.

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa said the government would not allow the militants to disrupt the peace that local residents have enjoyed for some time.

"We have not had attacks in about three months. In that period, we have managed to thwart several planned terrorist attacks and arrested several suspects partly because of the co-operation of the community," he said, adding that the authorities would continue to hunt down those bent on causing upheaval.

Meanwhile, hotels have tightened their procedures for screening guests, said Bernard Akama, 25, a private security guard in Mombasa.

"We have set the screening area farther away from the entrance," he told Sabahi. "We are backed up by at least one armed security officer. The sight of guns in a hotel lobby is not a good picture, but for the safety of all it is necessary."

Abdullahi Mohammed Jamaa, a 25-year-old businessman in Mombasa, told Sabahi that he had noticed increased security in recent days.

"Their presence on the streets gives us a sense of security," he said. "They are friendly too because they talk to us and inquire whether there is any security problem."

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Reader's Comments

  • maxamed
    August 30, 2013 @ 03:54:00AM

    Brothers, a happy Friday to you first. I would like to pray to God to help my Somali brothers to get out of the problems and terror. Amen.

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