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Scotland Yard joins hunt for terror cells

their citizens last week in Mombasa.
AFP PHOTO | BEN STANSALL Armed British police officers in central London on September 29, 2010. British detectives are in Kenya following the arrest of one of their citizens last week in Mombasa. 

By FRED MUKINDA [email protected] and RICHARD MUNGUTI [email protected]
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

British detectives are in Kenya to help track down militants and dismantle their terror network.

This follows the arrest last week in Mombasa of a Briton said to be the Al-Shabaab bomb expert.

Security sources said police want Scotland Yard to help them dig into his past and establish if he has links with Al-Qaeda and unmask the people he has been working with since he came into the country.

The Anti-Terrorist Police Unit raided the suspect’s house and seized material and chemicals believed to be used in bomb-making. The officers also questioned his wife, a Kenyan of Somali origin.

Items seized included dynamite, detonators and timers that are easily available on the market and are used in mining and quarrying industries.

Police described the Briton as a technician with expertise in making explosives.

On Saturday, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe directed dealers in laboratory chemicals to vet their clients and report any suspicious characters.

He said such chemicals, readily available and widely used in school and college laboratories, could be bought by terrorists to make explosives.

The chemicals listed as dangerous include Sulphuric acid, sulphur-based compounds, urea and other ammonium-based compounds, lead nitrate and hydrogen peroxide.

Eight people arrested

Police have so far arrested eight people in Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru on suspicion that they planned to carry out attacks over the festive period.

The ATPU is also questioning Mr Sylvester Opiyo aka Musa Osodo and Mr Hussein Nderitu Abbas aka Mohammed.

They were arrested when they presented themselves to the police on Saturday, hours after Mr Kiraithe flagged them as wanted criminals. (READ: Anti- terror police detain Kenya Shabaab suspects)

“Police have cause to believe they have information, which can assist us in unravelling any intended criminal activities by the Al-Shabaab in the country,” Mr Kiraithe said.

On the eight suspects, who are scheduled to be arraigned in court tomorrow, Mr Kiraithe said: “They are being interrogated on offences relating to preparation of illegal explosives. We believe that by Wednesday we shall produce them in court for the offence of attempting to make explosives.”

Police are also tracking down militants planting explosives in North Eastern, killing security personnel and injuring several civilians.

The attacks are planned by Al-Shabaab which wants the Kenya Defence Forces to pull out of Somalia.

There have been five explosions targeted at security officers in North Eastern since October when Kenya crossed the border into the war-torn country to crush the terrorists.

The explosions have been recorded in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera, killing three police officers, a soldier and two civilians. Some 22 others sustained injuries.

Meanwhile, lawyers of Mr Opiyo and Mr Nderitu will go to court on Monday to challenge their detention by police.

Mr Chacha Mwita and Mr Mureithi Mbugua said they had been held beyond the constitutional limit of 24 hours without being arraigned in court.

“My clients surrendered to the police on the eve of Christmas after being declared most wanted terrorists. We will file a constitutional application today in the morning to enforce their rights,” Mr Mwita said.

The lawyer said he drove the suspects to the ATPU offices on December 24 for their safety.

Engaging in organised crime

“I had to surrender them to police since they are being viewed by the public as the ones who will make Christmas festivities unbearable. They could have even been killed after the alert message by the police,” Mr Mwita said.

This is not the first time the suspects are being linked to the terror group. They were recently charged with engaging in organised crime as Al-Shaabab members and freed on Sh300,000 bond.

Mr Mwita said the suspects may be charged with violating their bail terms.


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