How Kenya’s al-Shabab amnesty is a loaded gun

Musa Rashid had fought for a year with the Somali jihadist group al-Shabab until, disillusioned, he returned home to Kenya.

Part of the lure was a government amnesty for those who renounced violence, and the promise of support to settle back into his Majengo neighbourhood, a low-income suburb of the capital, Nairobi.

Rashid, 40, saw it as a chance to restart his life. But first there was the nerve-shredding step of making his presence known to the authorities, effectively surrendering, and then trusting that the amnesty would apply to him and be fairly implemented.

In January, he went to a police station close to Majengo, along with a cousin who had similarly joined and then quit al-Shabab.

According to Rashid’s sister, Sawiya, who accompanied them as a witness, the station commander confirmed they were eligible for a pardon and advised the two men to go home.

Two days later, Rashid and his cousin disappeared. They went to work in the sprawling, nearby Gikomba market, where they laboured as porters, but never came home.

Mohammed Yusuf/IRIN
Watch: How three lives are bound by the same fear .

Sawiya believes the Kenyan police are to blame, although she disclosed no evidence to back up her claim. A Human Rights Watch report in July alleged the security forces “have forcibly disappeared at least 34 people in the past two years during abusive counterterrorism operations in Nairobi and in northeastern Kenya”.

But there are other explanations too.

In hiding

Tainted by Rashid’s al-Shabab past, Sawiya now fears she could be next. As a result, she’s in hiding. She told IRIN she still receives intimidating calls from unknown people.

“They ask if I ‘know where my brothers are?’ I tell them to help me find my brothers.”

It’s not just the security services Sawiya worries about. Al-Shabab members are in the community, and they take a dim view of deserters. “When you escape or try to leave [them, they] will kill you,” she explained.

Majengo is an old, majority Muslim district, although Gikomba, Nairobi’s largest open-air market, attracts people from across the country, adding a cosmopolitan flavor.

In Kenya’s neglected Muslim communities, radical mosques like Majengo’s Muslim Youth Centre, under Ahmed Iman Ali, and the Masjid Musa in Mombasa, led until his death by the charismatic Ibrahim “Rogo” Omar, have inspired hundreds of young Kenyans to go and fight in Somalia.

Grievances galore

The struggle, then and now, is presented as a broader battle against a Somali government portrayed as illegitimate and a stooge of Western interests. Jihadists also draw on the many grievances of Muslims in Kenya, who lack political and economic clout, and, on the coast, even their traditional land.

Kenya’s intervention in Somalia in 2011, aimed in part at stopping the cross-border raids that were hurting its tourism trade, enraged al-Shabab. There were high-profile attacks on a posh shopping mall in 2013, and a university in the northeast last year, which together killed a total of more than 215 people.

Apart from these “spectaculars”, there has been a long, dispiriting campaign of smaller-scale bombings and shootings. Rashid joined al-Shabab in December 2014, at the peak of the attacks inside Kenya, including a twin explosion in Gikomba, seemingly designed to stir Muslim-Christian conflict.

Rashid’s sister said part of the reason he joined was the promise of money. “They were told they would be rich. It was just a lie,” she said. Al-Shabab typically dangles the prospect of a $500 to $1,000 salary, a good deal of money in Kenya.

A profile of returnees, compiled by the International Organization for Migration and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, found that one third of recruits were jobless before they joined the group. The bulk, 46 percent, said they were “self-employed”, but typically in low-paying work like farming and fishing.

The economic motive is not the whole story. One 26-year-old former al-Shabab fighter told IRIN he joined for ideological reasons after being convinced by a friend. “We discussed injustices our community was facing,” he said. “We left, five of us, to go to Somalia. It was more about fighting for justice and religion.”

Anti-terrorism playbook

The Kenyan security forces have responded to the al-Shabab threat with dragnets targeting the Kenyan Somali population, ever-constant extra-judicial killings, and promises to close the Dadaab refugee camp, where they claim – contrary to the evidence – attacks are planned.

So the surprise announcement of an amnesty in April last year by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery was an entirely new departure. It came just days after the Garissa University College attack by al-Shabab, which killed 148 people, nearly all young students.

The initiative aims to “encourage those disillusioned with the group that wanted to come back,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told IRIN. But “those who have been directly involved in terror activities against Kenya, or Kenya’s interests, will have to have their day in court.”

The amnesty programme includes counselling and rehabilitation, as well as supposedly protection to those who have surrendered. It was promoted as part of a “countering violent extremism” strategy, to win over former combatants, and help de-radicalise the communities in which they live.

According to the returnees’ survey, an estimated 700 ex-combatants had made their way home by 2015. Some analysts believe the figure could now be closer to 1,000 – a clear win for the programme.

No implementation strategy

But there’s a big problem: it’s not working as advertised.

“There is no law, policy, and practice in place to operationalise [the amnesty],” noted Abdulahi Halakhe Boru, a regional security analyst.

Kenya risks squandering a potentially smart initiative, because “this is a government that is disorganised, lacks capacity, and thinks only about expediency,” said Joseph Wandera, coordinator at St Paul’s University’s Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations in Eastleigh, a Nairobi suburb.

As a result, the amnesty is “nothing other than a press statement,” argued one newspaper columnist. There is no joined-up policy in place, no push for the security forces to mend their ways, no leadership, and no accountability.

At the local level, it’s extremely messy.

Returnees “are nervous about their security, the community is nervous the people coming back are not transformed, and nervous that if they associate with these returnees, they might be punished by the cops,” Wandera told IRIN.

Is al-Shabab behind the killings?
Njoka, the interior ministry spokesman, denied allegations of any involvement by the security forces in the disappearances of al-Shabab returnees, blaming them instead on jihadists trying to scare young people and prevent fighters surrendering to the government.

Al-Shabab tactics include: “sending threatening messages to families of those whose children have deserted that unless the parents disclose the whereabouts of the children, the entire family would be eliminated; making efforts to track down those who have deserted and sometimes killing them; and threatening its members and spreading propaganda that the amnesty is a trap to capture former combatants,” Njoka said.

The ongoing killings of returnees and community peace mobilisers in Kwale county, south of Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, is evidence of al-Shabab’s entrenched presence in a region that has supplied recruits for years.

An attack by a policeman last month on his own station in Kapenguria, in northeastern Kenya, gunning down seven colleagues, was also a jaw-dropping reminder that al-Shabab can infiltrate the security forces.

Despite the risks of retribution from either the security forces or al-Shabab, it’s not just fear that weighs on the minds of the returnees. According to the IOM and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims study, they also see aid and community acceptance as pre-conditions for successful reintegration.

Giving up

But Boru, the regional security analyst, told IRIN that because al-Shabab is listed as a terrorist organisation, civil society groups are hesitant to work with the ex-fighters, “lest they are seen [to be] or accused of providing material support”.

The 26-year-old mentioned earlier, who joined al-Shabab as a true believer, has struggled to settle back into Majengo. He now regards the amnesty programme as a hoax, a ruse by the government to entice men back to kill them.

“There is nothing like amnesty. It’s a trap,” he insisted. “What they mean is they send someone to follow you, and you have days to live. Those who went for the amnesty said the government had forgiven them, but that is not the case.”

The former fighter believes his only option is to go back to Somalia. He is trying to buy some time until his preparations can be made. “I feel bad,” he said, but, in light of the situation, “there is nothing I can do about it”.


Report: Vietnam Among World’s Biggest Illegal Ivory Markets

FILE - Ivory that forms part of a two ton discovery by Togo troops is seen in the city of Lome, Togo, Jan. 28, 2014. Police in Togo say they have arrested three men after discovering nearly two tons of ivory in a container marked for shipping to Vietnam.

FILE – Ivory that forms part of a two ton discovery by Togo troops is seen in the city of Lome, Togo, Jan. 28, 2014. Police in Togo say they have arrested three men after discovering nearly two tons of ivory in a container marked for shipping to Vietnam.


Conservation group Save the Elephants says Vietnam is one of the world’s biggest illegal ivory markets, becoming popular among Chinese buyers. The group says in the past eight years the number of ivory items for sale has increased more than six times.

Ivory demand high in China, Vietnam

Save the Elephants researcher Esmond Martin said 60 percent of the ivory tusks sold in Vietnam were from African ports located in the Indian Ocean.

“About two-thirds of ivory that is leaving the continent is going to the East African ports, mostly Mombasa and Dar es Salam, into a lesser extent in Zanzibar and two-thirds of ivory that leaves Africa is going to China and Vietnam,” Martin explained. “Now the big difference between China and Vietnamese market is the China market on the retail, legal side and perhaps on the illegal retail side has been going down but the Vietnam market its been absolutely booming.”

Fire burns part of an estimated 105 tons of ivory and a ton of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016.

Fire burns part of an estimated 105 tons of ivory and a ton of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016.

The group’s report “Vietnam’s Illicit Ivory Trade” documented more than 16,000 ivory items on display ready for sale in three towns and its surroundings. In a similar report in 2008, 2,400 items were on display in the same locality.

The investigators noted lack of law enforcement and corruption contributed to the expansion of the ivory trade in Vietnam. They also found an increase in Asian tourists has driven up demand.

Lax laws across the border

Over the past couple of years, the Chinese government has clamped down on the illegal elephant ivory trade, in turn, Chinese ivory buyers have crossed the border into Vietnam stated researcher Lucy Vigne.

“In China because of the cost of bureaucracy every item of the sale in an illegal outlet has to have an identification card. This is not required in Vietnam, so the cost of bureaucracy, the cost of labor, the overhead is so much higher,” she said. “Prices in China are far higher than in Vietnam that is why Vietnam is a major place for mainland Chinese to come down and buy ivory out of their country illegally.”

The Save the Elephants report says 75 percent of the ivory buyers in Vietnam come from China.

FILE - Products from elephant ivory are displayed on the centre column of a shelf inside a carving and jewellery factory in Hong Kong, Oct. 23, 2015.

FILE – Products from elephant ivory are displayed on the centre column of a shelf inside a carving and jewellery factory in Hong Kong, Oct. 23, 2015.

Craftsmen in Vietnam earn an average of $260 a month. In China, an artist makes at least $800.

The founder and the head of Save the Elephants, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, stressed the need to close new markets emerging in Asia.

“The study is a warning that when you think you are on the verge of solving a problem, it may shift across to the borders of other states … in this case, the problem now of illegal ivory trading has shifted across the border with Vietnam … so really the only hope is to bring down that demand and bring down the desire for ivory, and this has been widely recognized by China and America,” Hamilton said.

In the past couple of years, the price of ivory, especially in China, has tripled to $2,000 per kilogram.

It is estimated that 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012.

Looking for Risper

One family’s journey after Kenya’s Garissa university attack

Isaac Mutisya

Isaac Mutisya stands next to a grave, a simple cement slab shaded by a gum tree on the family farm in Kitui, eastern Kenya.

“This is where I buried my daughter; the one who always brought happiness and joy to this family,” said the soft-spoken high school maths teacher.

Risper Mutisya died a year ago almost to the day. She was one of 142 students killed when the Somali militant group al-Shabab stormed Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya on 2 April. The attack and subsequent siege lasted more than 10 hours.

Risper, aged 24, managed to survive the initial gun and grenade assault that began in the early morning. But then the militants, believed to be five heavily armed men, started hunting for the students who were hiding.

Helen Titus, a third-year student of education, had taken shelter in the same dorm room as Risper and a group of other young women. But there were bars on the windows, no fire escape, and they were trapped.

“The attackers convinced us to come out of our rooms, [that] they were not going to kill us.” said Titus. The students were ushered to the ground floor, a tiled general-purpose area. “They told us to line up, and that was the last time I saw her.”

Titus remembers in those terrifying moments the militants assured them that Islam did not permit the killing of women. Instead, “they separated the boys from us and started killing the boys.” News reports said they had focused on executing Christians.

“After killing the boys, they started giving us a lecture. They were saying they wanted KDF [the Kenya Defence Force] out of Somalia. They said they were going to give us a chance to speak to our parents and for our parents to call the president and convince him to withdraw the soldiers from Somalia.”

But that didn’t happen. After warning everyone not to move, “they went up to other rooms and killed more students. One hour later, they came back for us”. The gunmen opened fire. Titus kept her face down and played dead. Although nicked by a bullet, it was a flesh wound, and she remained motionless.

No answer

The day of the attack, Isaac Mutisya had planned to M-Pesa (a phone-based money transfer) Risper the bus fare so she could spend the Easter break with the family. When he heard news of the assault, he began to frantically call her number. “The telephone rang, but there was no answer. Nobody responded. It rang until around 5pm on the same day when it went off completely.”

“The loss feeling in my heart is weighing me down,” said Isaac. “Up until today, I dream about her almost every night. It has not been an easy situation.”

The Kenyan government has been widely condemned for its response to the attack. The elite anti-terror RECCE police unit was mobilised, but there was seemingly no helicopter available to fly them the 380 kilometers to Garissa, which borders Somalia. They were forced to go by road, a journey of seven hours.

Student body missing
Mohammed Yusuf/IRIN

There was confusion over the coordination of the security forces at the scene. Worse still, the attack may well have been prevented: credible intelligence reports warning of an impending raid on universities had been ignored.

Where is my daughter?

Risper was a bright second-year business management student. Titus, who had shared a room with her for a year, said she was “very serious with her studies” and had talked about specialising in accounting.

“I had so much hope in her,” said Isaac, a successful farmer with a solid home and respectable land holding. Risper was the Mutisyas’ second-to-last born, and was adored.

The loss of a child is bad enough, but what happened next magnified the family’s grief.

Risper’s body was airlifted to Nairobi, but then disappeared. She should have been kept at Chiromo Mortuary, a University of Nairobi-owned facility, along with the remains of the other students. But the Mutisiyas could not trace her.

Isaac made several trips to the mortuary – checking and re-checking the gradually decomposing bodies. As the number of unclaimed corpses fell, to three, then two, he began to hope that, somehow, maybe, Risper was still alive. One student had emerged from hiding five days after the attack, why not Risper? The DNA test on the last remaining cadaver was negative – had the authorities made a mistake in reporting her as dead?

The unknowing continued for six months. Isaac shuttled from government office to government office, going back to his family to report each time that there was no news.

But then, finally, realisation dawned. Risper’s second name – Kasyoka – was the surname of a young woman who had already been buried. A DNA test was organised for the parents and it was a match for the unclaimed corpse in the morgue. There had been a tragic mix-up over the name and fingerprints of the two students.

“The other family was ordered to exhume the body. The scene at the gravesite was very traumatising,” said Isaac. “I could not hold myself. I felt like falling and dying.”

A second DNA test on the disinterred body confirmed it was Risper.

Mohammed Yusuf
Risper’s resting place

“I felt relieved to some extent when I got the body of my daughter,” said Isaac. “But the loss in my heart is weighing me down… I miss her.”


The gunmen were all killed at Garissa. But, a year later, five additional suspects have been charged in connection with the raid – including a Tanzanian national discovered hiding within the campus, and a university security guard found taking photographs on his phone of the carnage. The suspects deny any involvement, and the trial is continuing.

The university re-opened in December, and there will be a fresh intake of students at the start of the new academic year in September 2016. The government hopes that the worst is over.

“Since the Garissa attack the government has made specific efforts not only just in Garissa but in most areas prone to terrorism,” said interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka. “One of the key things that was done in Garissa was [the] establishment of a police post within the university, and administratively there were changes in the entire security sector within the region.”

But there has been no public inquiry over what went wrong, which has not helped public confidence. Kenyan students don’t appear to feel any safer.

Ten days after Garissa, a student perished in a stampede at Nairobi University when a power transformer blew outside the hostels.

In November, administrators at Strathmore University in Nairobi failed to announce a mock security drill in advance. The shot fired in the air to begin the simulation triggered mayhem. A staff member died.

And then, in March, a disturbance at Kenyatta University in Nairobi led to a stampede, with panicked learners jumping out of third-floor windows. At least 38 people were injured.

Although Garissa has re-opened and the attack has, to some extent at least, brought people together, security expert Richard Tuta warned that the policy of the Kenyan government towards Somalia hasn’t changed.

Without a settlement in Somalia, “the attacks in northeastern Kenya and in the country won’t stop; they will continue,” he added.


Kenya Bombings Kill 10

Kenyan officials say at least 10 people died and 70 others were wounded Friday in two explosions targeting a minibus and a busy market in the capital city, Nairobi. The attacks came days after the U.S. and British governments issued travel advisories regarding potential terrorist attacks in the country. Mohammed Yusuf reports.

Investigators said improvised explosive devises were used to target the attacks. The minibus was spattered with blood, its windows and tires blown out. A second bomb exploded nearby, also near a market best known for second-hand clothing.

“I saw the explosion. People were running in all directions,” Reuters quoted a female witness as saying. “I know some of the people who died.”

Nairobi Police Chief Benson Kibui said police, acting on tips from the public, had detained a bombing suspect. Security officials said the suspect is a Kenyan national.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. embassy in Nairobi warned its citizens to increase their personal security in light of Kenya’s continuing terror threats and violent crime. “Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings – kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports,” the statement read in part.

The blasts came a day after 300 British tourists were evacuated from the coastal city of Mombasa, following a travel advisory issued by the British Foreign Office.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said evacuations only help the terrorists.

Such action “only strengthens the will of terrorists as opposed to helping us defeat that war,” Kenyatta said.

The Mombasa County executive in charge of tourism, Joab Tumbo, lamented the impact of the bombings and advisories.

“As we speak right now, evacuation has taken place. We also understand that the evacuation will continue,” Tumbo said, adding that Kenya is “staring at a possibility of hotels closing down.”

One immediate commercial victim of Friday’s bombings was a regional telecom conference, East African Com, scheduled to take place in Nairobi next week and to attract top industry executives. Organizers said they canceled it because of security concerns.

Past attacks in the east African nation have been widely blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which wants Kenyan troops out of Somalia. In September, gunmen from the group killed 67 people in a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall.

Many of the attacks have been along Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, including the port of Mombasa, a tourist favorite. Some others have been in Nairobi, mainly near the Somali-populated Eastleigh district. Friday’s blasts were close to Eastleigh.

Tourism already had been damaged by kidnappings by Somali pirates in the north near the Somali border, though that threat has subsided over the past 18 months.

Mombasa Church Stands Firm Despite Sectarian Unrest

A government crackdown on Muslim militants may be having unintended consequences for some Christian churches in Kenya. For the past two years a Salvation Army Church has been the target of attacks by young Muslim men, angry at what they consider a harsh police crackdown on potential militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports.

The Salvation Army church has stood in Majengo neighborhood of Mombasa since late 1920’s. In recent years the church has been attacked by Muslim youths who have fought with police to protest the deaths of clerics and young men in the government’s crack down on al-Shabab militants.

Damage is still visible from an attack last October, when attackers threw gasoline bombs at the church, burning down its training hall and a store.

Six months later, security concerns mean at least two police officers are assigned to protect more than 100 worshipers every Sunday.

Despite the threats, fifty-one-year-old Mary Ivusa still comes to the church, but worries about possible new attacks.

“Fear, fear is too much in our lives because as mothers we come with little children who cannot run, they are still very young, so its fear which is in our lives. And that’s what has made us fearful when there is no enough security,” she said.

In April, two gunmen stormed a church in Mombasa’s Likoni neighborhood and opened fire, killing four worshippers and injuring 15 others.

Ivusa, a mother of three, said that attack made many people too afraid to come to church.

“For me I have never missed, but they are so many women who don’t come because they are afraid. They don’t know what will happen next, especially when you see that one which happened in Likoni, it has brought more fear so many mothers have not come,” she said.

Since that attack the government has provided security for churches, especially in coastal towns.

John Muliro, a retired church elder, said church officials had to sacrifice some things to avoid confrontation with youths who might be disturbed by their presence.

“We might say we have changed, like we usually have what we call outdoor meeting whereby we go out to evangelize and sing as we march on the road, we don’t do that. But otherwise we are able to move on and do our best,” he said.

Regional security analysts said some Muslim youths directed their anger at churches because of the disappearances and killings of Muslim clerics and youths accused of having links to terror group al-Shabab in Somalia.

Local human rights organizations accuse the Kenyan police of using heavy-handed tactics against the Muslim community, including forced disappearances and murder. Police deny the accusations and say they are defending the nation from attack.

Sergent Major Alfred Charles Mugo, an elder at the Salvation Army Church in Mombasa, said Christianity has not wronged the Muslim youths and they should use the right channel to express their grievances.

“There is rule of law in this country. We are not living as animals in this nation, we have a law if someone has wronged you just go and exercise the law take them to court. You cannot just wake up and start attacking other people as if they are the one who have wronged you,” he said.

For now, at the Salvation Army Church, members of the congregation hope it can stand firm despite the turbulence.

Source: al-Shabab Systematically Targeting Informers

Late Sunday, Mohammed Salim Aliyan, an alleged informer to Kenyan government officials, was killed by unknown gunmen as he was about to enter his house in the coastal Kenyan town of Malindi. As Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA from the town of Malindi, another battle looms as local terror cells fight to suppress the information provided to authorities.

As the region’s third purported informant to be murdered since December, Aliyan’s shooting has further shaken coastal communities affected by an ongoing battle between Kenyan forces and al Shabab militants who claimed responsibility for last year’s assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, which left 67 people dead.

Sunday’s killing has also put pressure on Malindi police officials to step up the investigation.

“We have some information, which we are trying to follow up, and I hope soon we shall get them,” said acting Malindi police commander Charles Rotich. “With other victims I cannot comment, but [with] the latest incident: we might get them.”

The words were hardly reassuring in the wake of other violent killings carried out by suspected al Shabab militants.

Faiz Mohamed Bwarusi, a madrassa tutor and father of two, was found beheaded on December 4. In late January, Ahmed Bakhshwein, who has been described as a top Kenyan spy who routinely fed counterterror information to officials in Nairobi and Washington, was shot dead in the streets of Malindi by gunmen on motorcycle.

African news outlets have described both Bakhshwein and Aliyan as “police reservists” who purportedly monitored youth radicalization activities on behalf of government authorities.

According to “James,” a Malindi resident who chose to withhold his identity for fear of retribution, the three victims all knew each other.

Claiming to have known Bakhshwein for more than 25 years, James said he met Aliyan and Faiz after they joined Bakhshwein in gathering information about terrorist activities in the area.

Faiz, James said, knew youths who were recruited into the ranks of al-Shabab and their activities in the coastal region.

In an interview with VOA, Faiz’s elder brother Musao Mohamed said his family did not suspect Faiz of involvement with government authorities.

“My brother was a fisherman, an Islamic school teacher for some years, and a land agent,” he said. “After the killing, the government said ‘he was working with us.'”

However, multiple sources tell VOA that Faiz’s occasional work ferrying goods — and sometimes youths — between Somalia and Kenya that led Bakhshwein to seek him out as an possible informant.

“The informers found out Faiz knew bad people and had lots of experience being around them, but [they] did not know he was not one of them,” said James.

Regardless of whether Faiz was involved with radicalizing youth on behalf of al Shabab, James fears that the militant’s will likely continue targeting anyone suspected of informing Kenyan authorities.

That, he says, will be a big blow in the fight against terrorism unless authorities take measures to protect such people.

Kenyan Cleric, Recently Shot, Predicted Death

The radical Kenyan cleric Sheikh Abubakar Shariff, also known as Makaburi, was killed by unknown gunmen Tuesday evening outside Mombasa’s Shanzu Law Courts.

Accused by U.S. and U.N. officials of supporting Somalia-based al-Shabab militants, Makaburi was connected with Mombasa’s controversial Masjid Musa Mosque, where Kenyan security forces recently carried out a series of deadly raids, leaving the city’s Muslim community shaken.

News reports indicate Mombasa’s top police officer Robert Kitur recently defended the raids, telling Justice Edward Mureithi of Mombasa’s High Court that the facility was stormed only after “intelligence that some extremists were there radicalizing youth,” and that the situation posed a threat to national security.

Makaburi’s killing comes just days after he publicly expressed support for al Shabaab and the group’s 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall terror attack in Nairobi.

What follows are key excerpts from a 2013 VOA interview in which Makaburi talks about another slain cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo and also predicts his own death.

Yusuf: You are accused of being an al-Shabab supporter and also the group’s recruiter in Mombasa.

Makaburi: I have never seen a recruitment booth in Mombasa or any specific place where a youth can go and be recruited. That is a lie. What is being done in Mombasa is [that] people are taught their religion and, in Islam, we do not have borders.

Yusuf: Why do you think some youths are joining al-Shabab?

Makaburi: Its oppression. We Muslims know that we are getting killed. Our government is killing us. … Now, when you get killed, there is nowhere to go for help, like the case against Sheikh Aboud Rogo: a year has passed [since his 2012 killing] and… nothing. Nothing will be gotten from the government. No justice. That’s what make the youth angry.

Yusuf: Police have repeatedly said people are not coming forward to give information that can lead to the arrests of the gunmen or killers of your friends.

Makaburi: Who will come out to tell the police that you killed (sic)? They are afraid for their lives. If they are true to their word, [the people] are accusing the police of killing Muslims in Mombasa; if [the police] are true to their words, there should be a non-partial investigation. They should not be involved in that investigation. How can a killer investigate himself?

Yusuf: Some of your friends, like Aboud Rogo, have been killed. What has life been like without your friends around you?

Makaburi: Very lonely. All my friends are dead. I know the killers. I cannot do anything about it. I cannot get justice for my friends’ killers. It’s very lonely.

Yusuf: Do you fear for your life?

Makaburi: I don’t fear for my life, because I am a devoted Muslim. I believe in Qadr [destiny]. I believe I will not die except the day [it is] written that I will die, on the second that has been written.”

Yusuf: Do you think you will be done with these terror cases in court whether you are found guilty or not?

Makaburi: I don’t think I will finish the case. They will kill me before that.

Yusuf: And why is that?

Makaburi: Because I believe in Islam and am ready to die for it. And because I will not keep quiet and let my religion being stomped upon.
Yusuf: Where is your family? It looks like there is no one here except you?

Makaburi: My family cannot stay with me. They are afraid they will be killed. I am staying by myself.

Yusuf: How often do you see your family?

Makaburi: I see them regularly but they cannot stay with me. Nobody from my family comes and visits me, because they do not know at what time the government squad killers will come for me.

Yusuf: I understand you have a boy, age nine, how will your son view your death?

Makaburi: My son will know that his father was the one who was wronged, because, as you have seen today, I was in court. I am obeying the law. It’s the government which is breaking the law. It’s the government which is killing the people extra-judicially.