, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Kenya on Wednesday stood firm over its crackdown on illegal immigrants, with Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti saying it was a matter of national security and not targeted at any community or religion.
The Minister said security forces were concerned with the dangers posed by illegal aliens in the country, particularly sympathisers of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militia and other radical groups whom he blamed for deadly demonstrations in the capital last Friday.
“Our security agencies are doing a lot of work but we cannot give details because this is a security matter. In fact they have frustrated a lot of incidents which some of these people have been planning,” the Minister told reporters at a press briefing.
“Regardless of our political or religious differences, we must all stand together when it comes to the security of this country. That is extremely important.”
He stressed that the government had resolved to “get rid of all illegal aliens staying in the country without valid documentation.”
Security operations targeting illegal aliens were launched on Sunday night following Friday’s demonstrations organised by officials of the Muslim Human Rights Forum to protest the continued detention of Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah Al-Faisal.
At the Wednesday press briefing, Prof Saitoti said Kenya would not tolerate people like “Al-Faisal to stay in the country because they are dangerous people with extremist ideas.”
Asked if the cleric had been deported following his orders on Saturday, Prof Saitoti said “leave that to the government.”
Sources told Capital News that the cleric was still in the country, having spent Tuesday night at a police station in Nairobi.
A senior Muslim official later claimed he was privy to information that Sheikh Al-Faisal had been moved to the Naivasha prison but that information could not be independently verified.
“These raids will continue because our laws are very clear, we cannot have foreigners staying in the country without valid documentation. We must know their status, therefore people should not be defending people without putting that in mind,” the Minister affirmed.
He said suspects arrested in security operations since Monday and found to be without the required documents would be deported to their countries.
Since Monday, nearly 700 suspects, mainly from Somalia have been arrested and many of them charged in court for being in the country illegally.
Some of those arrested include Members of Parliament and businessmen from the neighbouring lawless Somalia.
The raids were mainly carried out in Eastleigh and South ‘C’ neighbourhoods as well as in hotels in the city centre.