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Kenyan soldiers kill Al-Shabaab chief in southern Somalia

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The Kenya Defence Forces says it has killed a senior Al-Shabaab commander.

Hassan Issack Ibrahim alias Beila, who was in charge of Gelef area in Somalia was killed together with two bodyguards during an operation jointly carried out with Jubaland security forces, said the KDF.

Hassan is believed to have been the force behind the hijacking of miraa vehicles on the Kenya-Somalia border at Diff, Hamey and Dhobley.

He is also said to have led a number of attacks on police posts.

An AK-47 rifle, a grenade and a mobile phone were found on the commander’s body, which was displayed to the public in Dhobley town on Wednesday.

LAKTA BELT

At the same time, there are reports of Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia amassing at Lakta belt near Boni Forest, with the aim of entering the woodland ahead of an operation ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Police on Wednesday said five Al-Shabaab militants of Kenyan origin had been dispatched from Somalia to lead fresh attacks.

Authorities said they believed some of the terrorists’ relatives were involved in helping them sneak into the country.
Police circulated photos of five suspected militants and appealed to the public to volunteer information on their whereabouts.

SH2 MILLION

Police also offered Sh2 million for information that would lead to the arrest of Abdikadir Mohamed aka Ikrima, Mohammed Tajir Ali, Suleiman Irungu Mwangi and brothers Salad Tari Gufu and Gufu Tari Gufu.

Suleiman, police said, has other aliases, including Habib, Maalim Zakariya and Jureij.
Within Al-Shabaab, he is enlisted in Amniyaat, the terror group’s intelligence wing.

Police said Mohammed Tajir also uses the names Wahome and Abu Jaffar. He has been in Somalia since 2009.

TERRORISTS

KDF and the Somali National Army, with the support of the United States, have scaled up operations in Somalia to ensure terrorists do not enter Kenya.

“Security agencies have intensified operations within Lakta belt and overflowing into Boni enclave.

They are looking for important Al-Shabaab operators, key amongst them Salad Tari Gufu,” said a government report.

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KENYA

Ahmed Iman alias Kimanthi flees after Al-Shabaab fallout

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Ahmed Iman alias Kimanthi, a member of Al-Shabaab, is on the run after falling out with other commanders who want him executed. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A Kenyan who rose through Al-Shabaab ranks to become the poster boy for the terrorist organisation is on the run after falling out with other commanders who want him executed.

Ahmed Iman alias Kimanthi, who appeared in numerous Al-Shabaab propaganda videos taunting Kenyan troops fighting in Somalia, the group’s stronghold, is now seeking to surrender to Kenyan forces and get amnesty, the Nation has learnt.

Until the row, he was close to the current Al-Shabaab supremo Ahmed Diriye and Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, who commanded Shabaab’s Amniyat, its intelligence wing, when gunmen stormed Garissa University College and killed 147 students in April, 2015.

VIDEO CLIPS

In the video clips, which are unavailable after they were pulled down by YouTube, Iman says the killings were carried out to avenge the killing of radical Muslim clerics.

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In those videos, he named the clerics as Aboud Rogo, Samir Khan and Sheikh Abubakar Shariff alias Makaburi.

International security sources operating in Somalia, told the Nation that Iman has been the head of a group of foreign fighters who together with him, are now on the run from the main group loyal to Diriye and Karate.

A number of Kenyans and other foreigners who joined Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia have since been captured and executed.

On November 6, a 25-year-old Kenyan from Garissa was among four people who were publicly executed by the terrorists in Somalia.

Omar Adar Omar was killed by firing squad on accusations of spying for the Africa Union Mission in Somalia, which comprises the Kenya Defence Forces.

The fall-out is further complicated after the emergence of a faction that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria, while Diriye’s group maintains its formal partnership with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

DRAGNETS

The Nation has further learnt that Iman, in a bid to escape from Somalia, has evaded several dragnets to capture him.

Al-Shabaab is well known for executing militants within its own ranks whenever there is a fallout.

The latest developments are a repeat of what happened to Fazul Abdullah Mohamed, who was killed in a set up laid by Godane Ahmed Abdi Godane alias Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, who was Diriye’s predecessor.

Godane was later killed in a joint operation by US and KDF in Somalia.

Besides assuming the role of commander of foreign fighters in Somalia, Iman also has a great influence in Jaysh Ayman, another Al-Shabaab faction operating in Boni Forest which spreads across the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu County.

Furthermore, Iman is also said to be getting foreign funding directly, further angering indigenous Somali commanders, the sources also said.

A 2016 security report published by the Nation, revealed that Iman and accomplices in Nairobi collected millions of shillings every year by renting shops and kiosks in Umoja and Majengo, and the money is smuggled to Somalia to fund terrorism activities.

LOOTED

In one Al-Shabaab propaganda video, he was seen clad in KDF uniform, holding a walkie-talkie and an M-16 rifle, which he claimed was one of the arms looted from El-Adde Forward Operating Base, which was overran by the terrorists in January 2016.

Besides Kenya, whose soldiers are operating in southern Somalia, Al-Shabaab is also being fought by the US and other countries in Amisom, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.
100 fighters killed

On Tuesday, 100 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed in an air strike by the US.

“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conducted an air strike in Somalia against an Al-Shabaab camp at approximately 10.30 local Somalia time, killing more than 100 militants.

The operation occurred 125 miles northwest of the capital, Mogadishu,” said a statement by US Africa Command.

The Statement added: “US forces will continue to use all authorised and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats.

This includes partnering with Amisom and Somali National Security Forces in targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.”

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KENYA

Soldiers don’t smuggle charcoal in Somalia – KDF

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The Kenya Defense Forces yesterday disputed allegations its soldiers are involved in charcoal smuggling in Somalia.

The charcoal trade generates major income for al Shabaab.

KDF spokesman Col David Obonyo rejected as untrue the UN Security Council’s Somalia and Ethiopia Monitoring Group’s report that KDF is involvedin export and import of charcoal from and into Somalia.

He said it [the report] is similar to the one the group has been making “with a little variation in wording every year around the same time since 2012”.
Obonyo said the KDF is deployed in only 150km of Somalia’s coastline.

He said the SEMG report does not specify sectors where the charcoal trafficking takes place and who is managing those ports. The group did not visit those areas, he said.

“KDF is not in charge of management of port operations in Kismayu. They are under the Somali Federal Government and Jumbaland State authorities,” Obonyo said.

“KDF is not in Somalia to do business, but to enforce Amisom’s mandate. We are in Somalia to ensure safety and security of the Somali people. Kenya has made a lot of sacrifice to liberate Somali people.”

The UN banned the charcoal trade in Somalia in February 2012 to deny al Shabaab revenues. This was after it emerged the charcoal trade was generating major income for the al Qaeda-linked terror group.

Kenyan soldiers overpowered al Shabaab in Kismayu in September 2012 in the offensive Operation Sledge Hammer in which they dethroned the militants and seized control of the coastal town.

But Obonyo said the Kenyan troops were replaced by those from Siera Leone, who later left and were replaced by those from Burundi and Ethiopia, and the Family Police Unit from Nigeria.

SEMG has deplored the continued charcoal trade through Somali ports controlled by Amisom.

The SEMG report expresses concern that the charcoal trade still provides significant funding for the militia. It urged the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to continue its work, with the Federal Government of Somalia.

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Kenya’s supreme court has upheld the reelection of president Uhuru Kenyatta

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Kenya’s supreme court has dismissed two petitions against the Oct. 26 reelection of president Uhuru Kenyatta. In a summary of their judgment, the six-judge bench unanimously decided that the petitions had “no merit” and upheld his win for a second term.

“Having carefully considered the above issues, the specific players in each petition, as well as the constitution and the applicable laws, the court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited,” chief justice David Maraga said today (Nov. 20). “As a consequence, the presidential election of 26 Oct. is hereby upheld as is the election of the third respondent,” president Uhuru Kenyatta.

As per the constitution, Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto will now be sworn in on Nov. 28.

The decision comes after violence in the capital spiraled out of control over the weekend, leading to deaths, protests, and destruction of property. On Friday (Nov. 17), at least five people were killed as police dispersed supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who were welcoming him back from a trip abroad. Four people were also killed over the weekend, while an opposition lawmaker was shot in the leg during scuffles with the police. The opposition National Super Alliance coalition said that “state-sponsored thuggery” was plunging the country into a crisis.
In a majority decision in early September, Kenya’s supreme court called the August reelection of president Uhuru Kenyatta “invalid, null and void” and ordered a new vote be held in 60 days. After blaming the electoral commission for stonewalling meaningful deliberations, Odinga bowed out of the repeat polls in October and urged his supporters to stay home. Kenyatta won the redo with 7.4 million votes or 98% of the total, with more than 12 million registered voters not participating in the polls.

Rejecting the results as a “sham” and “a meaningless exercise,” Odinga called for a campaign of civil disobedience and peaceful resistance in order to safeguard Kenya’s democracy. He also called for an economic boycott targeting companies aligned with the government and the ruling Jubilee party. The results were also challenged in the supreme court by two cases: one filed by a former lawmaker and another by two members of human-rights organizations.

The uncertainty over the repeated elections and court rulings have also deepened the political crisis in the east African nation and intensified the sense of resignation among citizens. Citing political and economic marginalization, opposition-aligned regions have started calling for secession. The political and legal quagmires have also come at a huge cost for the Kenyan taxpayer, with about $600 million spent conducting the two elections.

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