Friday July 27, 2018
Large numbers of youth who had been radicalised and tricked into joining the al shabaab terror group in Somalia are now returning home in droves.The mother was not suspicious since his uncle lived a comfortable life.
The majority cited poor living conditions, mistreatment and lack of remuneration as reasons for the fallout.
“It is unfortunate the miserable conditions that made me leave home are the same conditions I have to live through everyday,” Omar, a returnee from Lamu County said.
Omar was recruited by his maternal uncle, a madrassa teacher in Hindi, Lamu County.
The uncle was their breadwinner after their father disappeared from home without a trace.
After completing Standard 8 in 2014, Omar's uncle told his mother he would get a job for his nephew for him take care of his five siblings.
She never inquired about the job nor the location he was going.
Like Omar, most of the returnees said low quality of life and social exclusion are some of the reasons they had joined the group.
To their surprise, they found themselves living in the same conditions they had fled from when they joined the terror group.
Sheikh Abdul from Panda Nguo said the conditions were worse than at home.
“I know we are poor back home, but it is better to return, or die than live in those conditions. At home, I had never stayed for three days without food or a week without showering, but that it was something normal for the militants,” Abdul said.
None of the returnees have any financial or material gain to show for their time with the terrorists, contrary to the promises they were given.
Their hope for financial benefit was severely dampened by measly earnings.
Unlike Omar and Abdul, Rama Mohammed from Mombasa did not join al Shabaab because of poverty but his was an ideological pursuit.
He wanted to fight for Jihad - a narrative propagated by al shabaab.
He, however, laments that there is no Jihad al Shabaab are fighting for.
“I know I did everything to escape and come back home, but I’m afraid to face my mum. How do I tell her I killed other people’s mothers? She would never forgive me,” Rama said.
He is desperate for his mother’s forgiveness. He heard she has been unwell since he left.
“Janaa is at her feet, that is the only Jihad I now seek,” a sobbing Rama added.
Al shabaab supports a policy of looting and pillaging the local population in the environment they live in.
The proceeds are a reserve for leaders and leftovers are given to the local Somali born fighters.
This leaves the foreign fighters desperate and frustrated.
In addition to the poor living conditions, the continued aerial bombardment on the terrorists by Kenya Defence Forces and US Forces is an added strain to the foreign fighters to return.
Omar, Abdul and Rama are part of 10 militants who surrendered to the KDF troops last month.
They are undergoing rehabilitation, psychological support and security debrief at a secluded area before re-integration back into the society.