Government grants amnesty to 30 Shabaab members

November 12, 2011 11:42 am
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe /FILE

, NAIROBI Kenya Nov 12-The Kenya police has given amnesty to more than 30 young men who have had links with the Al Shabaab, three weeks after promising reprieve to those who surrender.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told reporters on Saturday that the police are working with the youth to ensure that Al Shabaab activities have been neutralised inside the country.

Kiraithe said: “We are working with quite a number-put it at more than 30- the amnesty offer has been responded to quite well. They are giving us very useful information; some of them are refugees.”

He called on more members of the Al Shabaab in Kenya to come out and give themselves up to the police.

“We want more of them like we are having from Kenya and Somalia; we will keep their details confidential and we believe that the Al Shabaab are loosing foothold here in Kenya at a very fast rate,” he stated.

Kiraithe said that the Al Shabaab have already been largely defeated in Kenya but also called on the public to be extra vigilant as the threat of terrorism is still present.

“We urge members of the public, hotel managers and mall managers not to reduce the level of vigilance because we are dealing with an exceedingly primitive criminal and one who know no bounds, where as we have been able to contain him so far we have to stay vigilant,” he urged.

Three weeks ago, Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia called upon youths who had been radicalised by the militia group to take advantage of amnesty and surrender or suffer the same fate as Elgiva Bwire Oliacha.

Bwire alias Mohamed Seif, a self confessed Al Shabaab member was sentenced to life in prison in October, barely 72 hours after his arrest.

Police said that he had succeeded in recruiting other young men into the Al Shabaab from his Kayole residence.

Bwire, police learnt, converted from Christianity to Islam in 2005 and had made his way to Somalia last year through the Liboi border town, after an earlier attempt in 2009 had been thwarted by the police.

Several young people are said to have been recruited into the militia group and even crossed the border into neighboring Somalia for training in arms operation and terrorist attacks.

While extending the amnesty, Kimemia had said that the youth would be rehabilitated and integrated into mainstream Kenyan society after owning up.

Bwire’s arrest and conviction has however gone a long way in showing that the Al Shabaab has wide membership not only from the Somali community.

Last week, the police and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) called for tolerance towards the Kenyan Somalis as the Al Shabaab drew membership from across the Kenyan ethnic communities.

NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia warned that the continued branding of Kenyan Somalis as Al-Shabaab sympathizers, could fuel xenophobic attacks against the community.

“People become Al-Shabaab or any militia group on their individual capacity and not as an ethnic group or race,” he said.

Deputy police spokesman Charles Owino said the challenge the police faced in trying to wipe out the Al Shabaab internally was to ensure that there is no discrimination against the Somali community.

“Our main concern now is the stigma going on about the Somali people, we would like to caution against it, let the Kenyan people not stigmatise the Somali or any other visitor,” Owino had said.


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