Friday, November 16, 2012
By Thomas Whittle
MOMBASA, Kenya, Nov. 15 — Kenya’s anti terrorism police unit officers on Thursday arrested five more terror suspects in the coastal city of Mombasa in major operations.
Country Head of Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) Njeru Mwaniki said so far seven suspects have been rounded up in the counter- terrorism swoop including the son of the late slain cleric Aboud Rogo, who was arrested on Wednesday.
“Our officers are operating on highly placed intelligence reports of impending terror attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi and we have arrested several suspects who are assisting us with investigation,” Mwaniki told Xinhua on Thursday in Mombasa.
“The operation is still on and we are seeking more time to continue with our interrogation,” he added. Police identified the five suspects as Swaleh Ali Alias Ronaldo, Bilal Gaitho, Juma Musa Alias Chidi, Hashim Yasir and Mzee Suleiman.
Mwaniki said the five suspects were arrested in a major raid conducted in Mtwapa, Ukunda and Majengo areas on Mombasa on Thursday morning with several arms recovered. The raid had been conducted to prevent impending terror attacks on unspecified targets in Mombasa and Nairobi, he added.
“Security forces in the country have heightened their surveillance to ensure the country is safe,” he said, vowing to continue with the operation in all parts of the East African nation.
Mombasa, the country’s second largest city and a major tourist spot, is one of various cities targeted by a series of grenade attacks and abduction of foreigners in recent months. Bomb and grenade attacks in the coastal city have prompted Western countries to warn their citizens to be “extremely vigilant” in Mombasa.
Police have particularly warned against the laxity in the screening of cars for explosives at all shopping malls, saying any business or social gatherings with at least 10 people at any given moment might be vulnerable to attacks.
The police have so far obtained a court to hold the accused for seven days as they conduct more investigations.
The suspects’ lawyer Francis Kadima has since said his clients have been held incommunicado and that relatives are not allowed to visit them. He however said the court has granted the families permission to visit the accused.
“The information we have is that the seven will not be charged until the police have conducted their investigations after seven days,” he said.
Consequently a warrant of arrest was issued on Thursday against Fuad Abubakar Manswad, an accomplice of German terror suspect John Jermaine Grant after a certificate of urgency filed by the State.
Grant, who had earlier been jailed after being found guilty of being in the country illegally and conspiring to commit crime, including lying to the court that he was a Canadian by the name Peter Joseph, was charged on Jan. 12 alongside two other suspects who are Kenyans.
Grant was charged with Abubakar and Warda Breik Islam of being in possession of explosive materials. Abubakar also denied another count of harboring an alien.
The police spokesman Eric Kiraithe has called on any person who may know the whereabouts of Abubakar to report to any police station, warning he may have criminal plans.
“Abubakar was charged in Mombasa law courts earlier this year together with Jermaine Grant for criminal offenses of being in possession of explosives, being a member of an organized group and preparation to commit a felony,” he said.
Kenya’s tourism has suffered a decline in the number of tourists arriving since September 2011 when the Somali militant group, the Al-Shabaab, carried out the kidnappings of tourists in the Lamu archipelago and the kidnapping of the Spanish volunteers.
The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia last year to try to pursue Al-Shabaab insurgents.
The Kenyan soldiers in the UN-backed AU force have intensified their offensive against the al Qaida allied terrorist group, pacifying some of the areas surrounding the capital including the strategic city of Kismayo amid reports that the militants are now heading to Gedo region near the border with Kenya.