, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 25 – Kenyan authorities said Wednesday that they would close down Islamic schools or madrassas teaching radical doctrines, in a bid to combat terrorism.
At least one madrassa in Machakos has already been shut down after 30 youths were detained on suspicion of being recruited to join Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels.
“We are targeting religious schools that teach Jihadism, and those that have been recruiting youths for radicalisation,” Ndegwa Muhoro, director of Criminal Investigations Department, told AFP.
“We have already ordered a madrassa in Machakos to be closed, and we are monitoring others around the country,” he said.
Security officials said some madrassas in Nairobi, Mombasa and other major towns were being used as breeding grounds for radicalised youths who would later be recruited to join the Islamist fighters.
“We are not targeting the Muslim community as this has been an ongoing operation,” Kenyan interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said.
“We keep track on those religious schools and we have information that they are teaching radical doctrines to the youths. We are not closing down mosques,” he added.
Security forces in Kenya have been on high alert as the country commemorates the anniversary of last year’s attack by Shabaab militants on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that left at least 67 dead.
Kenya has also been hit by a string of attacks in recent months blamed on the insurgents.