Tag Archives: Kenyan police

Kenyan Terrorism Evolves: The Emergence of al- Hijra (Muslim Youth Center)

1 Jun

 

On Friday, May 16, 2014 hand- made bombs left inside a matatu (mini-van) exploded In Gikomba Market located on Jogo Road, Nairobi, an outdoor market famous for the sale of second-hand clothes. Gikomba is frequented by working- class Kenyans trying to stretch their paychecks by buying their clothes on the cheap. This time 10 Kenyans were killed and upwards of 70 people injured- ordinary citizens on their way to work or engaged in bartering for goods and services together. Store fronts were destroyed and several cars demolished during the fray as people fled the scene seeking to avoid the flying shrapnel intentionally packed inside the bombs. Sadly this has become a common event in Nairobi during past year. According to the United States Embassy Kenya has witnessed a dramatic escalation in home-related terrorism during the past two years. An estimated 100 people have been killed in terrorist-related mass shootings, grenade attacks, and bombings in the past eighteen months alone.

Gikomba Market is a mere four miles away from the Westgate Mall but culturally its wooden kiosks are a world away from the sleek, ultra-modern multi- level designer stores frequented by British and Americans residing in the Westlands. In September 2014, 67 people were killed in a terrorist attack reportedly carried out by a group of young Somali men and women- part of the youth group known as al- Shabaab. But days afterwards, subsequent eye-witness accounts of this bloody massacre painted a much different picture of the terrorists responsible for shooting non- Muslims on the floor of the mall that day. According to several first-hand testimonies the armed combatants did not physically resemble Somalis, spoke Swahili like Kenyans, and knew their way around Nairobi quite well- in other words these were home-grown terrorists rather than the imported kind. The name al- Hijra, a Kenyan affiliate of al- Shabaab suddenly entered the media pool and its reputation as a Kenyan organization of Islamic terrorists spread throughout the country. These latest attacks did not target Europeans living in Kenya or tourists on safari at the Mara or sunning themselves on the shore. No, these attacks were deliberately made against the Kenyan people by disgruntled Muslim youth seeking to harm the rest of Kenya in retaliation for injustices that have brought on this rage as a result of religious intolerance.

To understand why one needs only consider the current unrest out on the streets of Mombasa namely the open hostility between police and Muslim youth especially those residing in Majengo, a crowded Mombasa slum. 4.3 million Muslims make up 11.2 % of the total population of Kenya with the largest population of Muslims living along the coast especially within the city limits. Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya after Nairobi and Kenya’s most famous seaside resort area. Mombasa, is also a very ancient island of trade, only 575 miles from the Somali border which has always supported a multi-national population but in recent years this hodgepodge of cultures has become divided down the middle into Christian – Muslim groups after a myriad of shootings and riots have left its citizenry on both sides distrustful and afraid of one another. Muslim clerics around Africa have openly called for a holy war (jihad) against Christians continuously during the past five years and where in the past both sides displayed a modicum of tolerance when interacting with one another spontaneous church shootings of communicants during Sunday services have left Christians resentful and more than willing to support the actions of the police.

And so the Kenyan police – never a proponent of tolerance in the best of times has now targeted the entire Muslim population of Mombasa in their attempt to rid Kenya of terrorists rekindling memories of the KweKwe Death Squad – a special police force created to rid Nairobi of the fearful mungiki sect during the 2007 presidential elections. Dozens of Muslim families have reported the mysterious disappearance of loved ones- husbands and sons to the police only to receive no response or little information on their whereabouts. Human rights activists have accused Kenya’s Anti -Terrorist Police Unit (ATPU) of holding men in secret locations after charging them with crimes of terrorism without adequate proof to substantiate these charges. The Mombasa Republican Council has publically accused the Kenyan government of deliberately marginalizing Islamist citizens. Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) have voiced their position that the police have deliberately targeted Muslim youth in Mombasa for arrest continuing to violate their human rights throughout this secret “No Justice” campaign.

Three Muslim clerics suspected of supporting al- Shabaab and recruiting young boys have been systematically assassinated in Mombasa as a result of mysterious drive- by shootings beginning with the well- respected Aboud Rogo in August 2012 who was shot dead in his car while his wife was wounded in the leg. In October 2012, Ibrahim Omen suffered the same fate while Abubakar Shariff Ahmed renamed “Makaburi” died from gunshot wounds only last month, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, sprayed with bullets from a passing car on the steps of a north Mombasa courthouse as he waited for a ride home making violence and retribution the order of the day.

On February 2, 2014 police raided Musa mosque in Majengo on a Sunday morning after hearing that worshippers had raised a black and white flag in honor of al- Shabaab decorated with two automatic weapons pointing in opposite directions. This mosque has served as a center for Somali terrorists where young Kenyan boys have been recruited to leave for Somalia to train with al- Shabaab. Outside of al- Shabaab itself , Kenya sends more young men to Somalia to train as terrorists than any other country in Sub- Saharan Africa. The inhabitants of the mosque defied the police’s orders to disband and quickly became violent throwing stones at the police who eventually shot into the crowd. This heated altercation quickly turned into a riot after one man inside the mosque was killed by the police during the raid.

On March 23, 2014 6 Christians were killed and twenty others wounded in a Sunday morning church service in Likoni (near Mombasa) only days after two Somalis were charged with terrorism once police determined a car in their possession had been filled with explosives.

The Kenyan Muslim Youth Center (MYC) now called al- Hijra was originally founded in the Eastleigh slum, a Somali- rich section of Nairobi in 2008 by Ahad Iman Ali who has since changed his name to Abdul Fatah and moved his entire operation to Kismayo, Somalia. Sometime in 2012 al- Shabaab, established as a Somali youth group reached out to al- Qaeda establishing much tighter relations to all North- African Islamist terrorist organizations. At the same time al- Shabaab began creating closer ties with its neighboring affiliates- uniting smaller cells in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi while training their members in the art of terrorism within its camps in Somalia using seasoned instructors trained by al- Qaeda to do this. These teachers imparted a certain sophistication that had been lacking in their previous attempts producing more qualified terrorists and adding the use of social media to keep members sufficiently informed and on the move. Their choice of weapons and techniques gradually improved as well. Although al-Hijra began with a barrage of clumsily planted grenade attacks they soon learned these explosions would not produce the desired results. They soon moved on to more lethal explosions building home- made bombs easily stored inside backpacks and left in public vehicles and highly traveled places. Members of al- Hijra were even linked to the Kampala, Uganda bombings that killed innocent party- goers during the World Football Finals in South Africa during July of 2010. In 2011, The United Nations Monitoring Group on Eritrea/ Somalia warned that a home-based terrorist group trained by al- Shabaab was planning to carry out large scale attacks in Kenya and other areas around East Africa.

Most of the animosity visited against Kenya has been motivated by its military involvement in Somalia. On Sunday, May 19th, 2014 al- Shabaab militants killed at least 12 people as a result of an ambush in northern Kenya right after Kenyan jets bombed an explosives compound southwest of Mogadishu and three of al- Shabaab’s camps nearer to the border with Kenya. Kenya’s troops have also pushed al- Shabaab from the coastal city of Kismayo costing the terrorists millions of dollars in potential fees and business deals. Both terrorist organizations al- Hijra and al- Shabaab have vowed to keep up their violent attacks against Kenyans until the Kenyan government withdraws its troops from Somalia even threatening to implement “kidnapping for ransom” schemes on Americans residing within the country. What effect this will have on Kenya’s economy only time will tell? Recent unrest in Mombasa has led European tour companies to pull tourists out of Mombasa at one of the peak times of the year. Safari season will begin soon as well. The United States government has issued a travel warning against Kenya but this has been in place for a very long time ever since I began serving there in 2005. I fear things will only get worse for the Kenyan people unless the Kenyan military is able to defeat and capture the remaining members of al- Shabaab and very soon. So far the border between Kenya and Somalia is much too easily crossed for my liking.

Kat Nickerson                                Kingston,                Rhode Island

Kenyan National Elections or Tribal Warfare: A Video Summary

22 Aug

  I have selected several videos that I believe help summarize my concerns for the national election in Kenya that will take place on March 4, 2013. I have selected videos that will show Ministers of Parliament campaigning in 2007 and 2011 and the ethnic violence that occurred during and after the election of 2007. You be the judge.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTGvQ9nepgQ&feature=relmfu

What is it around national election time in Kenya that brings out the absolute worst in its male electorate? While I was in Kenya in the summer of 2007 I attended a few rallies and saw many more of them televised on Kenyan television. I observed a host of different Ministers of Parliament (MP) campaigning  for re-election in their districts, college educated individuals who normally wear suits and ties in the Parliamentary Chamber, morph into a bunch of narrow-minded, prejudicial, and many times violent tribal leaders. They all choreographed these rallies  the same way, applying the same two rules- agitate your district voters into a frenzy and keep your electorate bound to their tribal heritage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEqETniYPQA&feature=relmfu

 In every rally I observed in the summer of 2007 the event unfolded something like this-

Begin your speech using the local dialect of the people in this district and some Kiswahili which is spoken by most people in Kenya with little to no English language even though English is the language you would normally use in the House of Parliament in Nairobi during official sessions.

Make sure to arrive in a caravan of black luxury sedans and/or four-wheel drive vehicles, the make is not important but they have to be the latest models.

Hand out new baseball caps to everyone in the crowd with the name and the color of your party district on them- no suits this time. Make sure you wear a hat that helps you to stand out in the crowd and wear a traditional African shirt or polo shirt.  

Talk about the democratic principles upon which the country of Kenya was founded and how you and your party intend to make Kenya great. Then bestow as many accolades upon your tribe as possible and recall for the audience specific accomplishments that has made your tribe great.

Use choral endings that require the people to shout out or restates certain words and phrases as a group. Get  a real boisterous chorus going! 

Emphasize your name and your family’s history within the tribe especially if your father or relatives have served as a tribal leaders or Ministers of Parliament in the past.

Tell a little about your voting record in Parliament and the bills or laws you have helped pass- but be sure to connect these to the specific problems and needs of your constituency.

Work old grudges and/or points of contention into your rhetoric especially where your tribe has had crimes and/ or injustices committed against it. Go back into the past and recount them tribal grievances against other tribes even if they occurred hundreds of years ago. Make sure to blame the tribe or tribes that were responsible for the deeds. Concentrate on describing situations where tribal lands were confiscated or outright stolen by other tribes or government authorities.

Get people hopping mad and then do nothing as the “hate songs” begin and are spread by certain members of your audience then sung by the entire audience.Three popular live musicians – John De’ Mathew, Muigai wa Njoroge, and Kamande wa Kioi have been accused of propagating hate speech. The Mugithi singers, who are popular live musicians in Nairobi, allegedly sing songs in the Kikuyu language that border on ‘hate speech’ against Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is a member of the Luo  tribe and one of the top contenders for the president of Kenya in the 2013 elections

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL1HWZcLWWc

Provide a traditional East African recordings played by tribal instruments and see to it that if you use live musicians, they play local tribal music.

Join in the dancing once the music changes into pre- warfare rituals once performed by the tribe before it went to war or initiated a raid on another tribe.

Then leave in a hurry while the people are still in an agitated state but refuse to take responsibility when innocent bystanders from other tribes are killed after the rally or their houses are burned to the ground.

And if you do this well – you too could run a successful Kenya Election Rally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBGBGXG3BIA&NR=1&feature=endscreen

The last national election was held in December, 2007. In this election the two major contenders were President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. The standing President is a member of the Kikuyu tribe and Odinga represents the Luo tribe that lives around Lake Victoria. Although Odinga received the most ballots cast in the election, President Kibaki contested the results which he called “forged”. He refused to step down. This caused the entire country to ignite; especially the Rift Valley and once peaceful villages became hot beds for murder and arson carried out by groups of armed men, young and old from other tribes. Members of the Kikuyu tribe were especially targeted because of the President’s decision and houses in many villages near Mt. Kenya, the Kikuyu’s historic homeland were burned to the ground. As of July 2012 there are still Kikuyu living in refugee camps along the Rift Valley because they lost their homes as a result of the riots and demonstrations against the Kikuyus and Kibaki regime right after the election.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTGvQ9nepgQ&feature=relmfu

In Nairobi Kikuyu young men organized themselves into a paramilitary organization called Mungiki , “our thing”, which for the first time that I can remember were armed with automatic weapons  and started shooting back at the Kenyan police. This street war began in the slum of Mathare but quickly moved to the other major slums of Nairobi – Kibera, Kangemi, and Kyoli, then into the residential sections of Nairobi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9rdJIf8KZ8&feature=related

It took months for the tribal warfare to subside and even then small groups would resort to violence when members of other tribes spoke out in favor of different politicians.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhfG4TjYu-s&feature=relmfu

After the election, the Luo tribe organized a rally in Uhuru Park in Nairobi only to be turned away by the President who ordered his city police and military forces into the area to stop this event. Members of the Lou community carrying white flags and tree branches said they came in peace to demonstrate their grievances over the election but Kibaki was not buying their explanations and the demonstrators were turned away by armed government forces.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ7Hv4xjhUM

The next national elections will be held in Kenya on March 4, December 2013. President Kibaki cannot run again so a new President must be elected to rule all Kenyans. The Prime Ministers have already hit the campaign trail and although many officials and religious leaders have warned them to stop the tribal rhetoric –it remains to be seen. Watch some of this video and you’ll see some of the same conduct and tribal rhetoric. It’s time Kenyans began to think and vote as citizens of Kenya and not by tribal districts and party affiliations. I will be very curious to see what takes place in the elections of 2013. I saw some of the initial political rallies on local Kenyan television this summer when I was living in Kampala, Uganda in June 2012.  Although the local Ministers of Parliament swore that they would change their methods – it didn’t look like much had changed to me. If the political climate doe not change within the 40 tribal election districts what took place in the 2007 elections will occur again. This last video is very disturbing – unfortunately it is what actually happened on the streets of Nairobi during January 2008 and could very well occur again unless Kenyans change their election tactics in 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcJqA2bdIyc&feature=g-vrec

Kat Nickerson     Kingston,     RI        USA