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Balala to raise more funds for controversial mosque

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – Tourism Minister Najib Balala on Friday said he would mobilise Members of Parliament and other well wishers for another fundraising on August 26 at the Riyadha Mosque which is at the centre of allegations of channelling funds to the Al Shabaab terrorist network.

Mr Balala said he would not be cowed by allegations raised by the UN monitoring group on Somalia whose report said he donated money to the mosque which eventually ended up in the pockets of the Somalia-based network. He has vowed to continue supporting the construction of mosques in the country.

“I will not be cowed at all, the UN is spreading propaganda about me and (nominated MP) Amina Abdalla funding terrorism.  They are just out to malign the Muslim community,” Mr Balala told Muslims at the Riyadha Mosque when he attended lunch time prayers.

“I will lead Members of Parliament and mobilise them to raise more funds for the construction of this mosque. I am going to mobilise even those who are non-Muslims… I will not be intimidated at all,” he added amid cheers of the Muslim faithful who attended the prayers.

The minister is accused by the UN monitoring group on Somalia alongside nominated Ms Abdalla of raising money which allegedly funded terrorism activities under the guise of funding the construction of the mosque.

The UN monitoring group states that Mr Balala contributed some Sh200,000 towards the construction of the mosque but they believe that the money was not used for that purpose, but Mr Balala and the mosque committee members maintain all the money raised was used for the project.

Mr Balala told reporters that he was considering taking legal action against the UN monitoring group for Somalia.

“I am going to sue for damages and the money I will be paid will be split into two to benefit the construction of this [Riyadha) mosque and another mosque in Hurlingham,” he said.

He said local or international politics will not threaten him from continuing to support his fellow Muslim members to build mosques in the country.

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Leaders of the Riyadha Mosque in Nairobi’s Majengo estate have denied claims by a UN report linking their mosque to the Al Shabaab terror network of Somalia, saying all their books of accounts are above board and are available for auditing.

The elders say all monies received for the construction project since 2007 have been channelled to the right course and not to fund the Somalia based terror group.

An official at the mosque, Maalim Hassan Athman, last Sunday maintained that they had never solicited nor received money from the Al Shabaab.

“This project was estimated at Sh40 million, and we had to hold a fund rising, we invited people including the then Vice President Moody Awori, Najib Balala, Amina Abdalla among others,” he said.

“We have spent Sh30 million this far and still need Sh10 million; all this money has come from these leaders. We do not solicit for money from people outside the country,” he added also confirming that they have kept records showing how the money was spent.

They also distanced themselves from Ahmad Iman Ali whom the UN details as the leader of the Al Shabaab cell in Nairobi.


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