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Police net 20 Muslim youth in Mombasa

Saturday, December 07, 2013

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ANTI-riot police officers yesterday arrested 20 Muslim youths after a four hour standoff at Sakina mosque in Majengo. Four were later arraigned in court and remanded at Makupa police station for four days by Senior Resident Magistrate Irene Ruguru after the investigating officer Dickens Omollo requested more time to complete his investigations.

Swabir Twalib, Abdalla Sala Swaleh, Mohammed Abdalla and Jamal Swaleh Khamis were being investigated for allegations of incitement to violence.

 They were arrested on December 4 at Majengo in Mombasa county armed with crude weapons heading to Sakina Mosque to eject Imam Sheikh Khalifa Mohammed who was preaching there. They pleaded with the court to be released on bond but the magistrate declined their request.

Over 200 armed youths, suspected to be sympathizers of slain Sheikh Aboud Rogo, took over Maghrib prayers on Wednesday night at the mosque and preached sermons supporting Jihad. Police officers sealed off all entrances to the mosque but withdrew for fear of alienating moderate Muslims.

On Tuesday radical youths tried to take over the Umar Ibn Al Khattab Mosque in Kisauni but were repulsed by security officers and moderate Muslims.

“Police officers were forced to fire in the air to disperse the youths as they tried to charge towards them. Nobody was arrested,” said Kisauni police boss Julius Wanjohi.

According to intelligence reports, the radical youths are trying to force a change in mosques run by the Council of Imam and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK)

Police are profiling six key leaders behind the recent upsurge in radicalisation targeting mosques in Mombasa and Kisauni.

Mombasa acting police boss Tom Okoth said they are working with other security agencies to arrest the ring leaders indoctrinating youths through Jihad sermons. Okoth said a lack of coordination among Muslim leaders was hampering their efforts.

Last Friday, youths attacked the Imam of Sakina Mosque, Mohamed Idris, and Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa of the CIPK but they have not formally complained to the police. “I can’t make any statement. It's up to the security agencies to conduct their investigation,”said Khalifa.

 Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Mombasa chairman Mudhar Khitamy is out of the country and could not comment. ‘’It's a very tricky and delicate affair. We don't want to create a standoff and animosity among Muslims and the government,” said Okoth.

Mombasa senator Hassan Omar said the disgruntled youths are mostly educated but feel the current Muslim leaders lack legitimacy and do not represent them. He warned the involvement of police officers is ill advised and urged government to bring all stakeholders on board.

The Anti Terrorism Police Unit has set up a special team to investigate the beheading of a Madrasa teacher by radical Muslim youth at Ngomeni in Malindi on Monday.

Rufai was a mujahedeen (warrior) accused of being a traitor. He had recently returned from Somalia and was allegedly working as a double agent for the government.

He allegedly recruited several Kenyans including Fuad Abubakar Manswab, who is charged with British national Jermaine Grant and two others with plotting terrorist attacks in 2011. Malindi acting police boss Charles Rotich said police are yet to make any arrests or recover the missing head. The youths also intend to take over leadership at Lewaton Mosque in Ganjoni, Sakina Majengo, Azhar in Kiongorani, and Tawba Mosque in Kisauni.


 





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