Kenya: Govt Accuses Islam Preacher of Recruiting Young Men to Al Shabaab

Nairobi, Kenya - The government has fingered an Islamic preacher as being behind recruitment of Kenyan youth to fight for Al Shabaab in Somalia. According to multiple police and intelligence sources, the preacher, who is associated with defunct Somali's Islamic courts, established contact with Al Shabaab in 2009 and has since been instrumental in the recruitment.

"The preacher (name withheld), visited Somalia in 2009 and received military training from foreign jihadists in Somalia with affiliation to Al Qaeda. He also received training on radical brand of Islam where the core tenet is that there can be no harmonious co-existence between Muslims and other faiths," the sources stated.

According to people close to the preacher, the recruitment of the youth is done at a mosque in Majengo in Mombasa, where he holds weekly lectures. "The content of the lectures portrays the Somalia clan wars as the ultimate jihad, where anyone who dies in such wars will be a martyr and the heavens is the permanent abode," stated the preacher's allies.

Also the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council, has been cautioned against involvement in the recruitment. The proscribed group believes in separation of Coast province.

Yesterday, MRC denied claims that the organisation is recruiting youths from the area to join Al-Shabaab. The secretary general at the MRC, Salim Hamisi Mlamba, said the organisation had no such intentions. He further dismissed allegations by police two years ago that they were involved in military training and recruitment of youths in a forest in Kwale."There is nothing like that, we don't need to deal with Somalia. Our problem is the Kenya government which is trying to fix and make us look like an illegal sect yet we are not, if they have any evidence, they are free to present it," said Mlamba.

According to intelligence sources, Al-Shabaab leaders and families live away from Somalia. The family of their leader, known as Godane is said be in Dubai (UAE), Fuad Mohamed Shongole (a senior Al-Shabaab leader) in Stockholm, Sweden while Omar Hamami Al Ameriki( Military strategist) is said to be in in USA. Wikileaks cables revealed that Kenya is being used as a haven for recruiting young men to the Al-Shabaab militia.

US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger in a diplomatic cable said recruiting dens had expanded from Nairobi's Eastleigh to North Eastern province and Isiolo.

The cable indicates that Al-Shabaab was offering as much as US$ 6000 (Sh492,000) to an individual who has agreed to join the group."Kenya's ethnic Somalia population in particular suffers from lower levels of development and education than their fellow Kenyans. Idle, unemployed youth are at a particular risk," Ranneberger wrote in cable dated June 11 2009 released by Wikileaks. "Frustrated and aimless Kenya Somali youth, therefore, are prime target," wrote Ranneberger.