By Risdel Kasasira and John Njoroge
The Citizen Correspondents
Kampala. Passports recovered from al Shabaab hideouts in Al fitri, 12kms, north of Mogadishu by the UPDF show that one of the terror group’s commanders travelled through Entebbe International Airport without being detected by airport security.
The entry into the country by Abubarker Nur Hussein in July last year exposes what could be a lack of vigilance by airport security although the Internal Affairs ministry on Monday said he could have slipped through because hisname was not on the available list of wanted terror suspects. It also shows how Uganda is still vulnerable to terrorist
Infiltration and likely attack despite the lessons learned from the July 11, 2010 twin attack, which left 80 Ugandans dead.
The UPDF findings, made possible by the ongoing Amisom operations against al-Shabaab, comes at a time when an explosion ripped through a shopping complex on Moi Avenue in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, leaving over 30 people seriously injured in a suspected terror strike. Kampala has been on terror alert for the last three months as Amisom continues to conduct offensive operations in the outskirts of Mogadishu, making considerable progress in the bid to rout the al Shabaab.
According to the passport seen by this paper, Hussein, a Somali national, reportedly aged 61, entered Uganda on July 30, 2011. There is no exit Ugandan visa to show Hussein left the country through any of the recognised border points.
The commanding officer of the UPDF’s Battle Group Nine, which constitutes part of the Amisom formation, Colonel Stephen Mugerwa, said they recovered two other passports from the same hideout of Hawa Ahmed Hussein who had also travelled to Djibouti and Abubaker Nasser who visited Mozambique many times.“The passport has no exit stamp, indicating he sneaked out of the country,” he told Ugandan reporters at his new captured base in Al fitri.
Although Nur Hussein claims to have been born on January 1, 1951 he looks younger than 61 on his passport picture. Internal Affairs State minister James Baba on Monday said Hussein could have entered the country at a time when his name was not on the wanted terror suspects’ list.
“We cooperate with Interpol and other international security organisations. If he was on a wanted-list, we would have caught him,” Mr Baba said, adding that Hussein’s movement clearly indicates his criminal nature.
Police Counter Terrorism director John Ndugutse also described the new findings as “very disturbing”.“I, however, do not have details of these findings. It would be very unprofessional of me to comment further,” Mr Ndugutse added, referring this newspaper to the Immigration department at Entebbe Airport.
Efforts to get comment from Entebbe Airport were very frustrating.