By Mukalo Kwayera @kwayeram
Days after some politicians from North Eastern said they would name compatriots from the region suspected to aid al Shabaab in executing local attacks, it has emerged that some Senators and Members of Parliament are indeed on the cross-hairs over suspected links with the militia group.
This is revealed on a day the government gazetted 85 individuals, money transfer businesses and Islamic NGOs suspected to be financiers of al Shabaab. Two senators, two sitting MPs and three former MPs, all from the North Eastern region but one from the Coast, are said by highly ranked intelligence and military sources to be among those the politicians had in mind when they said they would name political conspirators.
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At the weekend, Garissa Town MP and National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale threatened to name leaders suspected of aiding al Shabaab in last week’s deadly attack on Garissa University College. On the day of the raid, lawyer Ahmednasir Abdillahi had claimed the attack was locally organised.
Intelligence sources have identified the suspected politicians as two senators, one from North Eastern and another from the Coast. Both are known to be vocal in commenting on terrorism issues. One of the two sitting MPs is from Garissa county while the other is from Wajir.
The three former MPs are from Mandera, Garissa and Wajir counties. The said leaders are usually vocal on human rights of suspected attackers but comment little on the fate of victims. Intelligence and military sources say the politicians, alongside businessmen and NGO operatives are under the radar on suspicion of aiding the terror group’s agenda.
“Once there is sufficient evidence against them, they will be picked and charged in court with aiding al Shabaab,” said a police source. Intelligence shows that to force the government to withdraw Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops from Somalia, al Shabaab has enlisted the support of influential leaders, among them MPs and senators, State officials and leaders in the Opposition Cord, to do its bidding via propaganda, blackmail and intimidation in the political arena.
“In the current and former parliamentary settings, we know the militia has two crusaders in the Senate and five in the National Assembly. During the last (10th) Parliament, the group had seven legislators owing allegiance to it. One senator is an avowed supporter of the group which today has adherents even in the legal fraternity.
They are ever present at press conferences and broadcast media talk shows where they militantly hurl insults and threats at government while floating allegations of bias towards Islam and certain communities,” said a senior intelligence officer involved in tracking activities of the suspects.
He said the ‘withdraw-our-troops-from-Somalia’ refrain and the ‘let’s-negotiate-with-Shabaab’ push have all the hallmarks of fronting for the terrorist group. “What you are seeing now are the kicks of a dying horse.
Al Shabaab has been defeated in Somalia, they are looking for possible means to make them relevant. That is why you now have their local sympathisers pushing for negotiations and withdrawal of KDF troops from Somalia,” said a high-ranking military officer.
He pointed at recent developments in political circles where a cacophony of suggestions have been floated with a view to coerce the government to rethink its stance on the presence of KDF in Somalia. The Kenyan troops are now under the African Union under the aegis of the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
According to the senior soldier, one of the tactics now being employed by al Shabaab is to use their Kenyan political allies to tarnish KDF with claims, as made last year, of engaging in charcoal trade and smuggling of contraband goods business.
The military officer made reference to a widely-circulated text message last month purportedly authored by a top official of The National Alliance (TNA) and addressed to a Central Kenya-born Women’s Representative alleging high-level smuggling across the Kenyan border with Somalia, reportedly facilitated by KDF personnel. “Hii (name of the Women’s Representative withheld), information is from Major Macharia.
Now containers is (sic) on the way to Nairobi using KDF trucks from Somalia, Kismayu. I need computers, bales of clothes, phones, motorbikes, Probox engines. Be careful ni magendo (corruption). Am still in the meeting. Give them remaining amount. Is (sic) confidential deal.
Yours (name of TNA official withheld).” After investigations, it was established the message had nothing to do with the two TNA politicians while no such Major Macharia exists within KDF ranks, but had instead originated from Kamiti Maximum Prison where crooked inmates, working in cahoots with warders, were merely executing propaganda instigated by al Shabaab with a view to drawing the attention of political actors to pour vitriol on KDF, said our source.