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Anti-Terror Police following money with links to Al-Shabaab


Thursday, January 16, 2014
By JACKSON OKOTH


Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo. [PHOTO: STANDARD/FILE]


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NAIROBI, KENYA: The Anti-Terror Police Unit and other State security agencies are trailing suspicious financial transactions and illegal cash dealings for possible links to Al-Shabaab.

The cash trails in question are those flowing in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and parts of North Eastern Kenya, and are suspected to be financing the Somalia-based terrorists.

The police are also investigating individuals suspected to be part of a syndicate financing terror activities in parts of the country.

“We have also widened the net to include supporters, sympathisers and those harbouring terror gangs such as the Al-Shabaab, human and drug traffickers as well as those involved in money laundering-criminal activities that we believe are linked to terror,” Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said.

POLICE CHIEFS MEETING

The police boss revealed this in a telephone conversation with The Standard, on the side-lines of a two-day conference in Kampala, Uganda.

The conference brings together East African police chiefs to discuss the fight against terrorism.

Mr Kimaiyo could not reveal how much money is involved but sources familiar with the investigations say the money runs into billions of shillings.

A July 2013 report by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia said much of the cash comes from criminal activities.

“The meeting has been able to come up with 14 resolutions on how to deal with the terrorism menace,” said Kimaiyo.

The two-day summit is the 15th of its kind and its major focus is on combating terrorism.

The meeting comes at a time when the East African region is under threat from the militia group, Al-Shabaab.
Security experts say that by tackling terrorism jointly, East Africa member States would be able to improve their skills and abilities in responding to cross border and transnational crimes.

In addition, the joint security operations will help teams to be more prepared when combating terror threats.
In Kenya, the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) is already on the trail of suspected terrorism financiers.

The centre, an independent organisation financed from Treasury has been receiving information and building its database with reports of suspicious transactions.

Information on suspicious transactions is received mainly from commercial banks, stockbrokers and investment banks, insurance companies, pension schemes, and savings and credit societies.

The know-your-customer (KYC) rules adopted by banks require them to report suspicious deposits to the Central Bank of Kenya.

“We have plotted several pie charts and dug out crucial information and leads from reports on suspicious transactions already received at the Financial Reporting Centre. We are passing this intelligence reports to the relevant security agencies,” said John Wanyela, chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Advisory Board.

While FRC admits to picking up leads and that it is building a trend on several suspicious dealings and cash transactions, it is unwilling to share the intelligence for security and safety of the operations.

JOINT OPERATION

“We are building the patterns and it is still too early to share publicly the information that is in our possession,” said Mr Wanyela.

The centre is busy creating more office space for staff, which it will begin recruiting soon.

Procurement of all the required software and hardware is also planned, to make the centre fully operational.
The law requires that the centre monitors and provides intelligence reports on any suspicious, complex, large or unusual financial transactions to the office of Director of Public Prosecutions and the police.

Dealings of this nature, which suggest that someone or an organisation is involved in laundering ill-gotten cash or wealth through the country’s financial system, will be reported to centre.

While details are scanty, sources confirmed that the anti-terror police squad, with assistance of other security units, is carrying out investigations and close scrutiny on several businessmen suspected to be financing terror activities in the country.

WEALTHY BUSINESSMEN

In December last year, two businessmen, Abdulaziz Ahmed Essak and Shahid Butt, appeared before Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Richard Odenyo, charged with offences related to terrorism and incitement to violence within Mombasa.

Police Inspector Evans Wesonga swore an affidavit showing Mr Butt was under investigation for terrorism crimes. The court ordered an inquest into the police claims that the tycoon has incited violence in Mombasa and also aided commissioning of terror in the coastal city.

“We have unregulated international casinos and gambling units, a thriving real estate sector or even car dealing businesses where individuals simply walk in with loads of cash and make payments with no questions asked on the source of the money,” said Jackson Kitili, FRC director in past forum at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

While Kenya has a law in place to deal with offences of money laundering activities and terrorism financing, missing from Kenya’s strategy on war against terrorism is a forensic and crime laboratories within the police force.

What this means is that proving money laundering offenses before a court of law and getting a conviction will not be a walk in the park.



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