, LONDON, Jan 9 – An extremist accused of heading a wave of British recruits to an Al-Qaeda group plotting attacks in Kenya was radicalised in the same prison as shoe bomber Richard Reid, a report said on Sunday.
The Sunday Times said Jermaine Grant, 29, a Muslim convert, was arrested recently in the Kenyan coastal resort of Mombasa following raids to disrupt a campaign of planned terror attacks planned by the Islamist Shabaab movement.
Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday warned travellers to Kenya that there was a heightened threat of “terrorist attacks” in the capital Nairobi and attacks “may be in the final stages of planning”.
In response, Kenya admitted the threat from Shabaab extremists had not been “totally neutralised” despite Kenyan military action in Somalia, from where the attacks are believed to be launched.
Grant became radicalised as a teenager in the same British prison, Feltham young offenders’ institution in London, where Reid first turned to Islam, the Sunday Times said.
The paper reported that chemicals including hydrogen peroxide, which can be used to make bombs, and detonators were alleged to have been found at Grant’s home in Mombasa when it was raided last month.
It said a local woman he had married only two days earlier was also arrested.
The Sunday Times said Grant had learned bomb-making skills in a terror training camp in Pakistan before joining the Shabaab movement.
The paper traced Grant’s family to a scruffy terraced house in Newham, east London, where one of his half-brothers said Grant had been convicted of rape when he was 14 and sent to Feltham young offenders’ institution for seven years.
His mother Michelle said he was radicalised while behind bars. “Before that he had no links to Islam; none of our family are Muslims,” she said.
Around 50 Shabaab extremists hail from Britain, the Sunday Times said.
Reid, who confessed to being an Al-Qaeda recruit, is serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001 using bombs hidden in his shoes.
The Foreign Office declined to comment on the Sunday Times article, but a spokeswoman said: “We are aware that the Kenyan authorities are interested in speaking to British nationals in relation to possible links to Al-Shabaab.”