Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Security agencies were on high alert following Al Shabaab insurgency
in Somalia, especially after the Islamist group infiltrated the
country’s borders to carry out terror acts.
At the height of the insurgency in Somalia, there were a flurry of
arrests, detention and murders of a string of Muslim clerics in Kenya
accused of bearing links to terrorism.
The events triggered violence and protests among the Muslim
community, who accused security agents of singling them out for
persecution. Human rights defenders also condemned the extra-judicial
killings targeting the so-called terrorists and their sympathisers.
At the centre of the controversial killings was the slaying of Muslim
activist Shamir Khan in April last year and the controversial Muslim
preacher Sheikh Aboud Rogo in September, the same year.
The shooting of Rogo, execution-style along Mombasa-Malindi Road
sparked violence between ‘aggrieved’ Muslim youths. The mayhem left
several people dead and injured and property of unknown value destroyed.
Rogo had been in and out of police custody charged with terrorism.
But it is the dramatic abduction and subsequent murder of Khan in
April that would remain etched on many a people’s minds especially given
that no investigation into the murder was done. Both Khan’s murder and
that of Rogo remain unresolved.
Khan had been on police radar and had a brush with the Anti-Terrorism
Police Unit, having been arrested in 2010 and charged with illegal
possession of dangerous weapons. In fact, by the time he died, he had
two cases pending at Mombasa High Court.
Eyewitnesses said the activist and a colleague, Mohammed Kassim
Bekit, a blind man from Kibera in Nairobi, were abducted by unknown
people while driving a taxi in Mombasa. The two were bundled into two
separate Toyota Probox vehicles in dramatic scenes in what was suspected
to be a police operation.
In an interview with The Standard recently, the slain cleric’s widow
Faiza said there was no point in pressing ahead with her late husband’s
“We are saddened by the fact that Khan is no more. Even if we have
the best police investigate his death, he will never rise from the dead
again,’’ she said.
She added that those who had a hand in her husband’s death would best
be judged by God and not earthly beings. Faiza, who objected to a face
to face interview or her photograph being taken, told The Standard at
her residence in Maganyakulo in Kwale County that she is now shouldering
a bigger responsibility of raising six children left under her care.
Faiza said her last-born child now aged five-months-old was born last
November, several months after her husband’s death. She has named the
Khan was considered a terrorist suspect by Government and he is
believed to have been abducted by State agents. The blind cleric in his
company has never been seen since.
Detectives from CID headquarters were to be assisted by those at the
Coast, who were also probing the disappearance of the blind cleric. The
move came after local activists claimed complicity of police in the
area. Coast PPO Aggrey Adoli said investigation was ongoing.
“We expect a team of detectives from Nairobi to supplement the team
investigating Khan’s death. So far, we have very scanty information on
the incidents,” he had said.
Adoli at the same time announced that the police had opened up a
public inquest into the killing. He said: “So far, investigations have
drawn very little, but we believe that through a public inquest, we will
get substantial information to give us a lead into the murder.”
He also appealed to people who witnessed anything relating to the
activist’s abduction and eventual death to volunteer the information to
the police. CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro said like any other murder
incident, they intend to get to the bottom of the issue.
But the family’s worst fears were to be confirmed a few days later
when the two activists were found dead. Khan’s mutilated body was found
in thickets off Mombasa-Nairobi highway in Tsavo East National Park.
Bekit’s decomposing remains would be discovered a week later.
Last week, Khan’s lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi expressed frustrations
at the lack of investigation into the murder and political will to
discharge justice to the family of the slain activists.
“I am representing the Khan family in the murder case and I can
confirm to you there has been absolutely no investigation into the
murder. The file is virtually empty despite numerous leads that could
have led the police to Khan’s killers, including eyewitnesses, who
identified the two vehicles which sped away with the pair,” he says.
“The police operate death squads that kill on orders of those who call
the shots in the chain of command,” he charges.
“They were ordered to eliminate him. This is the finding of Prof
Phillip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur. It is members of police death
squads that killed Khan,” he says.
Ahmednasir, who is a member of the Judicial Service Commission, says
Khan had been his client for a long time, adding he was a marked man.
“A few weeks before his murder, I met him at his humble home in
Likoni at the Coast where his ageing mother cooked lunch for us and
served chicken and biryani in a very traditional Swahili setting. He was
a jolly nice person. I have no doubt in my mind that members of the
Kenya Police killed Shamir because for a long time, he was a marked
man,” he told The Standard.
“Both his friends and family knew his days were numbered. It was just
a matter of when the police would slay him. Throughout the time I was
with him, he expressed fear for his life. He voiced premonition that he
would be killed by the police. He knew they would get him.”
But could Khan’s murder be linked to something more sinister than the
fact he may have been linked to Al Shabaab or Al-Qaeda? Ahmednasir
reveals that Khan and his family had lived in fear for more than 40
years. In 1976, when his father bought 360 acres of prime land in Ukunda
from an English lady, little did he know that the acquisition would
cause him much grief for his family.
Two months after the purchase, Ahmednasir reveals, the Government
ordered the family to surrender the land for settlement of people from
Central Province, but Khan’s father refused and he was arrested and
badly tortured. He nearly died in police cells. He would later flee to
Tanzania to save his life. Afterwards, the police raided, ransacked and
beat everyone in Khan’s home.
The police harassment continued for 40 years. In the meantime, Khan’s
family wrapped the title deed in a polythene bag, dug up a hole and
buried it for 40 years. When the Government could not retrieve the title
from the Khans’, it issued another title, sub-divided the same land and
distributed it among the settlers.