NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – A witness in the case facing four Somalis accused of aiding in the Westgate terror attack told the court on Wednesday that one of the men believed to have carried out the shootings sought to marry in Kenya just two months prior.
Abdifatah Ali told Chief Magistrate Daniel Ochenja that the would-be terrorist Abdi Noor, “pressed,” him to find him a young girl to marry after the former school mates bumped into each other on Eastleigh’s 10th Street in July last year and exchanged numbers.
“Noor kept on ringing me sometimes just for greetings then later he asked me to assist him get a lady to marry. He kept on pressing me to look for him a lady to marry,” Ali testified.
He said he later gave in and gave Noor the number of one of his Al-Imra college mates by the name of Zamzam.
“I then sent Zamzam’s mobile phone number to Abdi Noor and also informed Zamzam of Mohamed Abdi Noor’s interest. I later learnt that they met at Zamzam’s home,” he said.
But according to Ali, his match making efforts did not bear fruit as Zamzam refused Noor’s proffered marriage proposal.
“They chatted for about a week then he proposed to Zamzam but she turned him down because they had known each other for only a short time and she didn’t know his people,” Ali continued to testify.
He said Ali already had another wife, one whom he’d married in Mogadishu after leaving Kenya where he had been a refugee.
But he was unclear as to whether Ali’s first wife had accompanied him on his return to Kenya, “he told me that there was no job in Somalia so he came to Kenya to look for a job.”
The 19-year-old Ali told the court that he first met Noor in the year 2010 when they’d both been class five pupils at the Gambella Primary School situated in the Kakuma refugee camp.
A few months later however, he said, Noor left for Somalia in order to tend to his sick mother and where intelligence officers believe he became radicalised.
“When I ran into him in Eastleigh I couldn’t recognise him. He was the one that recognised me. He was slimmer than I remember and he’d grown a beard,” Ali explained to Ochenja.
He however denied having any knowledge of Noor’s plans to attack the Westgate mall on September 21, 2013 adding that he hadn’t heard from him after his matchmaking efforts backfired.
“He abused her when she refused to marry him. So I called him out on it, we argued and we haven’t spoken since,” he said.
Ali said the police tracked him down through his cellular correspondence with Noor who used the number 0726658736.