- Promise of lucrative jobs is among the strategies used to lure potential recruits to join group.
- But an Al-Shabaab returnee said that recruits were only given fare to facilitate movement to the "workplace".
The big salary you had been promised remains a dream once you are in Somalia.
When authorities raided four mosques in Mombasa following their links to radicalisation of youth in 2014, police said they had made a “major” step in the fight against terrorism.
The mosques – Masjid Musa, Masjid Sakina, Masjid Swafaa and Masjid Mina – located in Majengo and Kisauni were then temporarily shut down and opened later after an agreement between security agents and local Muslim leaders.
By then, police believed they had dismantled terror cells that were the breeding grounds for terrorists. It was after the raid that hundreds of youths from Mombasa who had been radicalised were forced to flee to hideouts.
The radical teachings had by that time spread to Kwale County where a number of youths were also recruited.
Many, according to police reports, ended up in Somalia to join the Al-Qaeda affiliated terror group Al- Shabaab. After a few years of training, the recruits, most of whom are well educated ,sneaked back into the country to lure their peers into the group.
It was not until the recent Dusit complex terror attack in Nairobi, which claimed 21 lives, that Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) officers affirmed that the war on terror was far from over.
After the attack, a series of arrests of suspects believed to be planning to join the terror group were made across the country.
There was a raid in Kitui County where four suspects, among them three foreigners and a Kenyan, were arrested in two hotels over terror-related suspicions.
Also arrested were 12 suspects including a New Zealand national and another foreigner in possession of an Ethiopian passport. The two were arrested near the Kenya-Somalia border.
The other 10 suspects were arrested during an operation at the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Garissa County. Others in the list of the arrests are 17 youths arrested at a house in Samburu, Kwale County. Police say they had lived in that house for a few weeks.
The 17 youths arrested included two women. Recruitment, according to intelligence reports, has now changed from being conducted in mosques to being done in “discreet” places.
“The cells are currently active especially in Majengo (Mombasa). Only that the recruiters have changed tack but that is where activities are going on,” said a security source.
Majengo is the place where the Nairobi attack suicide bomber Mahir Khalid Riziki comes from. Police said he was radicalised at Musa Mosque.
Our source said three other cells; two in Likoni and one in Kisauni are the only ones that are currently inactive.
Police believe the returnees are the operatives spreading the recruitment gospel by all means especially in Mombasa and Kwale counties.
In September last year, Sunday Nation learnt from security sources in Kwale that a number of youth were recruited with a promise of being taken to madrasa.
The new way of recruitment involved the youth aged between 15 and 24 to collect letters of “consent” from their area chief for them to proceed for “religious studies.”