, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – The Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) was Friday granted thirty days to detain five suspects, including a Canadian, who were arraigned in court over the Tuesday terror attack on 14 Riverside Drive that killed 21 people.
The prosecution had moved to court seeking to detain the suspects further in order to conclude investigations the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had said were at an advanced stage.
Those presented in court include, Joel Ng’ang’a Wainaina, Oliver Kanyango Muthee, Gladys Kaari Justus, Guleid Abdihakim (Canadian) and Osman Ibrahim—all believed to have facilitated five Al Shabaab terrorists who launched the deadly attack described by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma as having targeted the world.
The sixth suspect was arraigned separately, and police were allowed to detain him until Wednesday.
The prosecution told the court that among the suspects were taxi drivers who ferried the attackers to various locations in the city including 14 Riverside Drive and a mobile-money transfer agent who sent them money.
Another suspect is said to have been seen, in surveillance footage reviewed by investigators, talking to one of the attackers at the dusitD2 hotel complex where the al-Shabab linked militants laid a siege that started on Tuesday at 3pm and ended on Wednesday morning at about 9 pm when four of them were all killed. The first terror suspect blew himself up outside Secret Garden hotel, killing six people—according to police.
Police had earlier said they were holding 11 suspects, but it is understood that some of them are still being interrogated before a decision is made on whether they should face charges while others have been freed.
Papers filed in court on Friday stated that investigators are still pursuing more persons linked to those already arrested, both within and outside the country.
A detailed chronology of those arraigned in court indicated that they had been arrested between Wednesday and Thursday.
Wainaina was arrested around MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi on Wednesday, while Muthee, a taxi driver was arrested on Thursday.
Kaari, a mobile-money transfer agent was arrested in Maua, Meru County, on Wednesday, Abdihakim, a Canadian national, was arrested on Thursday.
The fifth suspect, Ibrahim, was arrested at the Two Rivers Mall in Nairobi on Thursday.
Police were also allowed to detain the sixth suspect named in court documents as Hussein Muhamed, until Wednesday next week.
The magistrate directed that he be held at Kilimani Police station.
The court was told that the suspect, who was presented separately from the five, was arrested on Jan 16 in Mandera, and his phone analysis shows he had been communicating with well-known terrorists based in Kenya.
The prosecution pleaded with the court to be allowed until Wednesday as they await identification documents of the suspect, which they said were being brought to Uganda.
DPP Haji said in a statement on Friday investigations into the terror incident on 14 Riverside Drive are complex and transnational adding that “sufficient time was needed to uncover the entire criminal syndicate.”
“I have appointed a team of prosecutors to offer technical guidance to the investigators on a continuous basis so as to ensure the investigations are meticulous and fast-tracked and those that must be prosecuted are held to account as soon as the investigations are complete,” he said.
Haji assured that his office will do everything possible to ensure those who organized and funded the terrorist attack are brought to justice.
Investigations into the attack commenced in earnest Wednesday morning after security services completed a night-long operation that saw over 700 hostages rescued from the scene of the attack.
Elite forces comprising the Recce Squad were praised for a meticulous operation that ensured minimum casualties with only eighteen injured persons hospitalized.
While announcing the commencement of an evidence-gathering operation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the area will remain cordoned off.
“DCI George Kinoti has taken over from here so this remains an active crime scene. We’ll therefore limit access to this place so that we’re able to gather the information we need to gather to move forward in the next steps,” he said accompanied by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe and other senior government officials.
The arraignment of five suspects in court on Friday came even as the foreign affairs ministry told diplomats that the attackers targeted the global community as the 14 Riverside Drive complex was targeted because it hosted a number of global establishments and international interests.
“While this attack on the Dusit Complex was on the Kenyan territory, it was targeted at the world. The complex hosts a range international establishments and interests,” CS Juma said at a briefing to foreign envoys based in Nairobi on Thursday.
Juma who was accompanied by Cabinet colleagues Fred Matiangi (Interior) and Najib Balala (Tourism), and National Police Service Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said more than ever, concerted efforts by the international community were critical to degrading terror groups.
“The attack is a clear reminder that the terrorists’ objective is to change the way of life of other societies is alive. It is a reminder that no country is immune to international terrorism,” the CS told the diplomatic corps.
Somali-based extremist group al-Shabaab that claimed responsibility for the attack had said in a statement aired on its radio arm, Andalus, it carried out the attack in response to a decision by United States President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The terrorist group said in the statement of Wednesday the economic interests of the US and Israel will suffer as long as the Trump administration continues with policies it termed as detrimental to Palestinians, including the December 6, 2017 proclamation by Trump.
Guatemala had joined the US in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 2018 with Paraguay’s foreign ministry backtracking on its earlier announcement to follow suit.
Al-Shabaab said the attack on 14 Riverside Drive was executed with instructions from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Somali-based terrorist group bares allegiance to al-Qaida.