Connect with us

KENYA

Kenyan soldier held hostage since Jan. 2016 appears in Shabaab video

Published

on

On Jan. 15, 2016, Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, overran an AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) base in the town of El Adde. At sunrise, two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) cleared the way for hundreds of jihadists to stream into the base.

The Kenyan forces manning the facility were quickly outmatched. The United Nations later found that “150 Kenyan soldiers were killed during the attack, making it the largest military defeat in Kenyan history.”

Not all of the Kenyan soldiers were killed. At least 11 of them, according to the UN, “were captured alive and subsequently held hostage in two separate groups by” Shabaab in the Middle Juba region of southern Somalia.

One of those Kenyan soldiers, Alfred Danyi Kilasi (seen obove), appeared in a Shabaab video released online earlier today – more than 16 months after he was taken captive. The video, along with an English transcript, was produced by Al-Kataib Foundation for Media, Shabaab’s propaganda arm.

“My name is Senior Private Alfred Danyi Kilasi,” the Kenyan begins. “I was born in 1987 in Western Province, Vihiga County, Vigeena village. I joined the army on 10 October 2010 and after training, I was posted to Nenkea, Moi Barracks.”

“On the 15th of January last year,” Kilasi continues, “I remember vividly that while we were in El Adde, we were attacked by Al Shabaab. They infiltrated our camp and took over our defense posts. We lost our comrades and we were captured as prisoners.”

Shabaab has Kilasi criticize his own government and plead with the Kenyan people to intercede on his behalf.

“From that time up to now, we have been in captivity and have not received any report from our government,” Kilasi says, as the camera zooms in on a “Kenya” patch on his uniform. “We have not received any kind of assistance. We are pleading with the Kenyan public to come together and find a solution for this dilemma that we are faced with. Right now, we have no one else to help us except you.”

“I am pleading with the leaders in Kenya,” Kilasi adds. “Where are you? We are suffering here in Somalia and are in dire need of your assistance. This is an election year and so we are pleading that before you go for elections, look for any means in which you can save us for we are your brethren.”

Kilasi’s tragic appearance is the latest instance in which Shabaab has used the Jan. 2016 attack, and the aftermath, in its propaganda.

Shabaab said the raid was carried out by its Saleh Ali Nabhan Brigade, named after a notorious al Qaeda leader who was killed in 2009. Nabhan had been wanted for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings, as well as a series of plots in Mombasa, Kenya in 2002. The brigade has been responsible for some of Shabaab’s highest profile operations, including the July 2010 bombings in Kampala, Uganda.

The al Qaeda arm boasted of its spoils from the base in El Adde — including arms, ammunition and armored personnel carriers — in a photoset disseminated online just days afterward. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Shabaab releases photos from captured African Union base.]

Then, in Apr. 2016, Shabaab released a 48-minute video promoting the massacre as “The Sheikh Abu Yahya al Libi Raid.” Al Libi was a senior al Qaeda manager and popular ideologue when he was killed in a June 2012 drone strike in northern Pakistan.

The Kenyan government was accused throughout the international press of covering up the extent of its embarrassing defeat in El Adde. The UN found that Shabaab’s Apr. 2016 video “depicted a highly uncoordinated and tactically unsound assault on the part of” Shabaab, but the “Kenyan forces also failed to implement basic defensive measures, such as constructing fortified barriers at the entrance to the camp and neglecting to man machine gun and mortar emplacements.” Other intelligence failures were cited as well.

Shabaab doesn’t make any explicit demands in Kilasi’s video. But it is possible that the jihadists are attempting to extract concessions behind the scenes. The UN explained that its representatives have “received information concerning the changing whereabouts and status of the captives, which it has shared with the Kenyan authorities through an intermediary.”

“We are in the hands of Shabaab and we are not aware of what our fate will be,” Kilasi says. “We are begging you to help us in any way that you can.”

Even if Shabaab isn’t seeking an exchange, the group is all too happy to promote what the UN has described as the worst defeat for the Kenyan military in its history.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

KENYA

Al Shabaab destroy Hormuud mast in Elwak

Published

on

Al Shabaab militants have destroyed a Hormuud communication mast located on the Somalia border town of Elwak.

Police say the militants were retaliating to earlier reports of locals communicating with Somalia security forces and the Kenya Amisom troops.

According to police sources, the AMISOM forces were collecting information from the residents in preparation for a medical camp that was set to take place in ELWAK next week.

The terrorists attacked the mask at 2 am on Saturday.

“The troops were just asking about the number of children available, the common ailments among the elderly and the number of expectant mothers but the militants accused us sharing information about their whereabouts.” an Elwak elder said.
The locals are aggrieved by the militants who in December also destroyed a water well in Lafey.

The well was sunk by the Kenya military troops to help them access water.

Many districts in Somalia are currently facing drought as the militants continue to make the lives of Somalis unbearable.

The terror outfit has in the recent past denied children and women access to humanitarian aid and even executed whoever they suspected of not cooperating with them.

On January 2, four security officers were killed in an attack in Mandera.

Two police reservists and an AP died instantly while another KPR was killed while being rushed to the hospital.

A senior police officer said the attackers waylaid the cops along the Elwak – Kitulo road.

Continue Reading

KENYA

KENYA: 58 students have abandoned varsities to join terror groups

Published

on

At least 58 Kenyan students abandoned universities to join terrorist groups in Somalia, Libya and Syria over the last three years.

A government report seen by the Nation further says 14 of the students were recruited into the terror organisations last year while the rest joined earlier.

In other cases, recruited students were found out early and detained before they could leave the country.

The figure could be higher because the authorities have not established the fate of others who have been reported as missing persons.

A number of those who fled have since been killed either in combat or executed after falling out with their commanders.

For instance, Jared Mokaya Omambia, who left studies at Moi University to join al-Shabaab in Somalia, was shot dead by a firing squad after the terror group accused him of spying for the Kenya Government.
MEDICAL INTERNS

Farah Dagane Hassan, 26, and Hiish Ahmed Ali, 25, who were medical interns at Kitale Hospital as they continued with studies, were killed in United States air strikes in Sirte, Libya, where they had joined the Islamic State.

In the most prominent case, Abdirahim Abdullahi abandoned University of Nairobi Law School and joined al-Shabaab.

He was killed at Garissa University College after he led three other militants in gunning down 147 students in one of the worst terror attacks in Kenya on April 2, 2015.

Among the 54 listed in the government report, there are those held in safe houses where they are undergoing rehabilitation.

At the same time, security agents are grappling with the resurgent and increased al-Shabaab attacks in Lamu. The militia has turned the county into a playground, often launching explosive attacks on government installations, security personnel, locals and motorists; killing, maiming and destroying property.

TERRORISTS

The terrorists have caught security personnel involved in Operation Linda Boni unawares and left many dead.

Between May and November last year, more than 30 police officers were killed in attacks by the terror group. This year, the terrorists have resurfaced with fresh raids targeting security personnel and motorists using the Lamu-Malindi road.

Last week, the attackers raided Ishakani village, a day after killing a woman and injuring five police officers at Nyongoro on the Lamu-Malindi road.

Last Tuesday, tension was high at Ishakani village in Lamu East after more than 100 heavily armed insurgents took over the area and preached radical teachings to the residents.

They hoisted their flag at a deserted local police station before going back to their hideouts. Sources revealed that the attackers have also been conducting daily prayers at mosques in the area at will.

On Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i met security bosses from the region in Mombasa and assured the public that the government was on top of the situation. He said the government will crush the militants and that there was no cause for alarm.

CRIMINAL INCIDENTS

“I have not seen any cause for concern as it were. The isolated criminal incidents such as the one we had on Saturday are matters that we will deal with decisively as we move along because we have the willingness and focus,” Dr Matiang’i said.

And, speaking to journalists on Friday, Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa said the security committee was reorganising its operations to deal with the terrorists.

The government started rehabilitation in 2015 as one of the ways of tackling radicalisation and violent extremism among the youth. The report warns that “gone is the era where terrorist groups targeted vulnerable youths who were illiterate and from poor backgrounds. The changing face of terror has seen the recruitment and radicalisation of the most unlikely targets. The recent trend among the terror groups is the targeting of university students.”

It adds: “With globalisation and the paradigm shift in the digital world, terrorists have exploited social media, among other platforms, to lure university students. Through various portals put up by al-Shabaab, ISIS and other groups, propaganda is easily disseminated to students.

Continue Reading

KENYA

Bring Kenyan troops home from Somalia

Published

on

On January 15, 2016, Kenyans reacted with anger and horror at the news that Al-Shabaab militants had attacked Kenyan troops at a military outpost in El Adde, southern Somalia.

The attackers claimed to have killed dozens of soldiers and captured scores of others, including their commander. To date, the Kenyan military has not released details of the attack, although some reports put the death toll at 100.

The El Adde attack raised serious questions about Kenya’s efforts in Somalia. Why is the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) still in Somalia? What are they trying to accomplish? Why was the outpost vulnerable? When will the troops come home?

The KDF first entered Somalia in 2011 on “Operation Linda Nchi”, aimed at securing the northeastern border with the Horn of Africa nation following a series of attacks on tourists and aid workers.

Until El Adde, things were going well for Kenya, with little violence. The KDF captured Kismayu port, a source of income for Al-Shabaab from charcoal trade and sugar smuggling into Kenya. Ironically, a United Nations report said the KDF was also involved in the illicit trade.

POLITICAL INFIGHTING

But the cost of Kenyan and Amisom efforts is staggering, with a heavy toll of African troops and Somali civilians. Although Amisom has kept a tight lid on its casualties, more than 4,000 soldiers are said to have been killed and thousands more wounded, making it the deadliest peacekeeping mission.

Due to lack of political progress on the ground, even the United States’ counter-terrorism efforts, billions of dollars in foreign aid and 28,000 AU soldiers from 11 countries are unable to impose order in Somalia. The Mogadishu central government is mired in political infighting over the spoils of foreign aid, factions and corruption.

The president of Somalia is holed up in a hilltop palace in the capital city — where a tenuous government exists that is unable to protect its people, administer justice and deliver basic services.

Al-Shabaab also exploits discontent among marginalised clans in the Shabelle River valley, who believe the US-trained, Al-Shabaab-infested, corrupt, one-clan-dominated Somali National Army (SNA) is using the fight against the Al-Shabaab to grab their fertile land. Although they don’t share the militants’ extremist ideology, they see them as defending their lands from State-backed clan militias.

CLAN MILITIA

But southern Somalia’s problems are not limited to Al-Shabaab. There is also small arms in the hands of clan militias and the second-generation of merchants of corruption and violence.

Moreover, the heavy-handed foreign meddling, including self-interested neighbours, impedes creation of a functioning, stable government. In fact, the 2006 US-backed Ethiopian incursion into southern Somalia midwifed the Al-Shabaab.

Then-President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga may have started the Somalia military mission on the wrong foot but President Uhuru Kenyatta has the opportunity to end it well. After all the Kenyan troops are accounted for, he should withdraw the KDF from Somalia in an orderly manner.

ATTACKS

The policy on Somalia is neither protecting the homeland nor serving Kenya’s interest. In fact, it has made border counties more vulnerable to attacks.

There is no compelling reason worth risking more Kenyan lives or treasure in Somalia’s clan-driven terrorism or dictating the political outcomes in the war-torn neighbouring country. It’s time to bring Kenyan troops home and let the Somali fight for their own country and destiny.

Mr Mohamed is founder and editor, Gubanmedia.com, a 24/7 online magazine of news analysis and commentary on the greater Horn of Africa region. aliadm18@gmail.com.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

TRENDING