WikiLeaks Releases: Nairobi Cable No. 53: Al-Shabab Recruting in Kenya

Viewing cable 09NAIROBI1171, A PORTRAIT OF AL-SHABAAB RECRUITMENT IN KENYA

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DE RUEHNR #1171/01 1621431
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P 111431Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9802
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 6572
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3213
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3084
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
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RUZEFAA/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001171

SIPDIS
AF/E:SUSAN DRIANO; INR:MOZELLA BROWN; S/CT:ZACHARY
ROTHSCHILD; S/CRS:NADIA BLACKTON
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2019
TAGS: PTER PREL SOCI PGOV KE SO
SUBJECT: A PORTRAIT OF AL-SHABAAB RECRUITMENT IN KENYA

Classified By: Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, reasons 1.4 b,d

Summary

Al Shabab: Recruiting in Kenya

¶1. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) There are a number of factors that make Kenya a fruitful source for recruiting young men to join such extremist groups as the Somalia-based al-Shabaab militia.  While we have been focused on Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb and the North East Province as particular areas of concern, new information indicates that al-Shabaab recruitment efforts may have also reached Isiolo, located in Kenya’s geographic center.  An Isiolo businessman claims that 60 young Kenyan Somali men have disappeared from Isiolo since January 2008 to fight in Somalia, and that two he knew personally recently died while conducting suicide bomb attacks in Mogadishu.  Recruitment in Isiolo, he said, is directed from a radical mosque in Eastleigh but carried out by members of four radical mosques around Isiolo.  Parents of these missing youth are grieving in private but are afraid of speaking out, he said.  Even if the Kenyan Government becomes actively involved in rooting out the recruitment network, there are no easy answers to this problem.  We will continue to actively explore ways the United States can be of assistance.  End Summary.

Kenya: A Good Source of Recruits
¶2. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) There are a number of factors that make Kenya a fruitful source for recruiting young men to join such extremist groups as the Somalia-based al-Shabaab militia.  Kenya’s close proximity to Somalia, its sizeable population of ethnic Somalis, high levels of poverty and unemployment, a history of poor governance, and a worrisome youth bulge all contribute to the risk factors.  Kenya’s ethnic Somali population in particular suffer from lower levels of development and education than their fellow Kenyans.  Idle, unemployed youth are at particular risk.  The continuing legacy of the Shifta Wars in the 1960s, certainly a contributing factor to Kenyan Somalis’ lower level of development, also leaves them feeling like outsiders in their country of birth.  We have focused our attention for some time on Eastleigh, a well-known Somali-majority suburb of Nairobi, and the North Eastern Province, which directly borders Somalia, as possible recruitment locations.  We also have reason to believe that some limited recruitment by al-Shabaab has occurred in Dadaab refugee camp (septel).

¶3. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) New information indicates, however, that al-Shabaab recruitment efforts also have reached Isiolo.  Located in Kenya’s geographic center, Isiolo has a mixed population but was originally settled during the colonial period by members of the Isaq and Harti clans from Somaliland who fought for the British in the First World War. The area has become a center for cattle rustling and is awash in small arms (septel).  As in Muslim majority areas (Coast Province and North Eastern Province) and other urban areas throughout the country, traditionally moderate, pro-establishment Sufi mosques have gradually been overtaken by more activist, sometimes extremist, Wahhabi-led institutions whose clerics bring much-needed cash into the Isiolo area.  These Wahhabist clerics may have direct links with radical mosques in Eastleigh, and may be acting as recruitment agents for extremist groups in Somalia.

¶4. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) As the battle in Somalia becomes more clan-based and Somalis increasingly join clan-based militias instead of al-Shabaab, some have postulated that al-Shabaab is increasingly in need of foreign fighters to keep up its numbers.  Frustrated and aimless Kenyan Somali youth, therefore, are a prime target.  In Isiolo, this recruitment effort is reportedly targeted specifically at members of the Somali Isaq and Harti clans.

Residents Concerned in Isiolo
¶5. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) On June 3, an Isiolo-based Kenyan Somali businessman told PolOff that he was extremely worried about the Islamic extremists’ reach into Isiolo and what it means for his family and his home.  Since January 2008, 60 youth have gone missing from Isiolo, he said, presumably to fight in Somalia.  Two suicide bombers who recently struck in Mogadishu were from Isiolo, he claimed, and the businessman said that he knew the boys personally.

¶6. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) The businessman said that the first suicide bomber — a friend of XXXXXXXXXXXX — was a 25-year-old man named Tawakhal Ahmed.  Ahmed, he claimed, was responsible for the February 22 bombing of the African Union compound in Mogadishu (a blast that killed 11 Burundian peacekeepers and injured 15 others).  Ahmed was originally recruited in 2006 to fight in Somalia against the Ethiopian occupying forces after getting involved with a Wahhabi mosque.  According to the businessman, Ahmed grew his beard, found religion, came into good money, and disappeared into Somalia to fight the jihad.  When he came back, Ahmed reportedly told the businessman how he had travelled to Somalia: the journey started at the Garissa Lodge in Eastleigh, then four to five boys at a time would go on a bus to Doble and onto Kismayo, where they trained in a camp for three weeks.  After that, recruits received mobile phones, which is how they subsequently received their orders.  When the Islamic Courts Union fell in late 2006, they reassembled in Doble and Ahmed returned to Kenya, but not before his commanders destroyed his (and others’) mobile phones, which had sensitive numbers programmed in them.  On Ahmed’s return, the businessman said that he tried to convince Ahmed that Somalia was not his war and that he should stay home.  By that time, Ahmed agreed and said that he wanted to get married and start a madrassa (Islamic religious school) in Isiolo.  However, a few months ago, the men from Isiolo’s radical mosques returned with some men from Eastleigh to re-recruit Ahmed, the businessman said.  The men from Eastleigh gave Ahmed USD 6,000, which Ahmed in turn distributed among his relatives and friends.  After a three-day prayer ritual, Ahmed left once again for Somalia, this time to carry out the February 22 suicide bombing.

¶7. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) The businessman said that the second local man was named Yusuf Mohammed Warsame, who was 25 or 26 years old and who, like Ahmed, finished secondary school in Isiolo.  The businessman said that he did not know when Warsame left for Somalia, but claimed that he was responsible for the May 24 suicide bombing in Mogadishu. (Note: The May 24 blast killed 10 people, including six soldiers, but an al-Shabaab spokesman has claimed that the bomber was a Somali, not a foreign fighter.  End Note.)

¶8. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) The businessman said that four Isiolo area mosques have been taken over by radical Islamists who are not originally from Isiolo and are being used as underground recruiting centers for al-Shabaab.  The mosques are: Masjid Hidaya and the County Council Mosque, both in Isiolo Town; Masjid Noor in Bula Besa; and Masjid Taqwa in Bula Oda.  The businessman said that these mosques act as satellites of Eastleigh’s Sixth Street Mosque, which directs recruitment operations. (Note: Isiolo’s most prominent mosque, the Grand Mosque, is run by a moderate imam who has presided over the mosque for years and has resisted the overtures of Wahhabist clerics.  The businessman opined that the radicals may be waiting for the imam to pass away before they make their move for the Grand Mosque.  End Note.)

¶9. (C//REL TO USA, GBR//) The businessman expressed frustration at what he perceived as a lack of concern or follow-up by Kenyan officials, with whom he has already shared these concerns.  (Note: He claimed that he had spoken with Isiolo’s District Commissioner, Isiolo’s Member of Parliament, and representatives of the National Security Intelligence Service to no avail, which is why he approached the Embassy.  End Note.) He said that he has been following up on the stories of missing children himself, as he is frequently accosted by family members who tell him that they have not seen their sons.  Parents who lose their children mourn in private, and are afraid to speak out about what is happening.  One mother, he said, actually travelled to Kismayo, Somalia to look for her missing 12-year-old son and she found him in a training camp.  The son reportedly told her to return to Isiolo and leave him there, or else she would be killed by the camp organizers. Concerns from Other Interlocutors

¶10. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) While it would be difficult for us to confirm that the two men from Isiolo are indeed the suicide bombers responsible for attacks in Mogadishu, the story of the recruitment process and the disappearance of young men is plausible and matches concerns reported by Kenyan District Child Protection Officers from Nairobi and Garissa to UNICEF’s Kenya office.

¶11. (C//REL TO USA, KEN, GBR//) Comment: If true, the reports about a possible al-Shabaab recruitment network that reaches all the way to Isiolo is disturbing.  There are no easy answers to this problem, even if there were Government of Kenya involvement.  To date, much of U.S. counter-terror support has focused on helping to secure Kenya’s borders: we are providing assistance to Kenya’s army to help them better react to major security incidents along the porous Kenya-Somali border and we are initiating a program to help the Administration Police and Wildlife Service to provide the first line of security along the border according to their mandate.  In the maritime arena, we provide support to the Navy and the Maritime Police Unit to better police Kenya’s territorial waters.  We also work with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and the Kenya Airports Authority to enhance aviation safety and security throughout the country. Recently, however, USAID began a youth employment/youth inclusion program in Garissa with 1207 funding specifically aimed at reducing the vulnerability to recruitment of young Kenyan Somalis.  We hope that it can serve as a model for reaching Kenyan Somalis and youth who are at risk in other areas of Kenya as well.  We will continue to follow up on the recruitment issue and explore other ways the United States can be of assistance.  End Comment.

RANNEBERGER

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7 comments

  • Chokora Fukara

    Caution is adviced:

    1) Most of the items in “Wikileaks” archives are yet to be released. For instance, what is the extent of EU/USA’s mercenary recruitment drive in Africa?
    .
    2) The “wikileaks” cleared to be released to the public depends on the imperial strategic interests of the (ruling-elite) owners of the western media.
    .
    3) Why should we be concerned about recruitment efforts of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab outfit in Kenya but not concerned about the Ugandan and Rwandan mercenaries recruited by, and fighting for, the white man in Somalia? Should the murderous activities in Somalia of Museveni’s son and USA’s outfits such the genocidal “Blackwater” types concern us?

    KSB: Good questions:

  • Chokora Fukara

    Fodder for the Slaughter Mill:

    “US firm hires ex-soldiers for foreign tasks” OR “The Empire Pays US$600 for Your Life”)

    http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000031601&cid=4&

  • Let the young youth generation Unite and overthrow this evil & corrupt enemies of this Banana Republic being led by Maffias Of Kenya Ruling -class gangsters .The corruption in Banks is very frightening hence Kenya banks are used in Money-laundering ,fake title deeds for Lands and plota Read here>
    Crucial leads

    “We will smoke them out since we are also getting very crucial leads,”said Masetu.

    Masetu, who spoke to reporters at City Hall, said the banks have been displaying fake permits worth Sh95,000 in their branches adding that it was a scheme involving some council licensing officers.

    “The permits are not reflected in the council’s data bank since they are fake,” said Masetu.

    He said investigations into the racket had been intensified adding that five council employees had so far been singled out as the masterminds of the syndicate.

    Kisia last month ordered the probe into fake permits after he found out that most of the businesses in the city were operating without valid licences.

    Already, 90 traders operating within the CBD have been arrested in the past one week for displaying fake permits in their business premises and charged in court.

    Kisia said 95 per cent of the businesses in Nairobi’s Accra and River Road operate without valid council documents.

    He said some of the businesses have not renewed their permits in the past five years while majority were using fake documents.

    Kisia said out of the 400,000 registered businesses in the city, only 80,000 were paying for their permits.

    He said the probe would be extended to the other parts of the city adding the racket was denying the council billions of shillings in revenue thus affecting service delivery.

  • Reporter daily news

    Corruption everywhere !Kenyans keeps on Grumbling &yapping to who?
    Should kenyans do nothing and wait for corruption to fight itself?
    Shababs has alot of money /dollars/Euros/paid by the owners of the hijacked merchant ships ! Huge money invested in Kenya !A one acre that in the markets price costs a million Kenya shillings is sold to Al-shaabas to 10 million kenya shillings and al-shaababs Hqs is in Eastleigh Nairobi ; Do you think Al-shaabab is not working together with Kenyas NSIS (GOVT)?Have you ever herd a Shaabab Big Fish being arrested in Kenya Give us a break &go smell Kenya Coffee tea or chew Miraa(Khat) Read here how Kenya corrupt Banks deals with fake title-deeds foe both Land & plots>http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000032150&cid=4&

  • Peter L.Akhonya

    Plans and words will be said and heard but will not solve anything in Kenya. When I always say or write to Kenyans claiming Kenya to have Regional Governance or Majimbo People think I am out of order or useless to claim tribalism but I had forecast long ago how Kenyans can live peacefully without problems in their regions. We are already in tribal dealings and cultures or customs, we speak different languages and you can see now people talking about KKK to unite together so that they can achieve something from 42 tribes,why because we are not in one language and we shall never be in one language in life time. Kenya can be one but with different clans or tribes being identified as equal.

    There is no any Country in the World which can lead its people fairly when it uses nepotism,dynasty,Corruption impunity and anarchism being in one clan among clan or tribe as Kenya is Governed by Mount Kenya one tribe(Kikuyus)Government which is not the Kenyan Government of 42 tribes being as equal.This is why other tribes feel to be offended, and young men start using any method to get their daily bread.

    When I say Majimbo, I mean every region can creat jobs to their young and old people from their own region’s plans for development to keep their young men and old men be occupied doing something than being idle.What can a such Government of impunity and corruption deal with idle young men without holding them in something?

    The Majimbo language I speak is the only way to reduce all these problems we are facing in Kenya of 42 tribes, because one tribe has made Kenya to be a clan Government in everything. How can the 41 out of 42 tribes feel when left out of any important role in Government to participate in? Can one tribe be regarded to be overall in everything?

    I still advocate for Majimbo to be enacted in Kenyan new constitution to save Kenyans from the coming destrution which will not be controlled as they simplify it. What is wrong for a Province to control its people because of their culture which is known to themselves? Why to mix people with different cultures? These are few things to be reviewed in a Nation with different tribes, but if one can hopelessly think he or sh can control people to unite together and yet they differ in culture and customs,is a waste of time and will never be peaceful in anyway. African Countries based on tribal languages will never be like America or Europe where people unite on English language only, even they differ in culture. For example; Americans culture and customs changed their English from British English.Kenya should go back to the eight(8) Provinces Governance.The Colonial knew that our tribes can not be put in one language and then they put boundaries to bring peace from mixture of cutures and customs.

    The recruitment of Al Shabaab is caused by un employment of young men without being engaged in jobs by their Governments.The blame is from the nepotism, dynasty, impunity and Corruption leaders by tribal mentality Government. The medicine for that is to have Regional Governments to monitor their people closely. Kenya can be a good Country if it enact the Majimbo Government in the new Constituton. Otherwise time will be spent and at last people will still kill each other because we do not have the same custom.
    What is wrong to be identified as a tribe in your region? Let us have Central Government and regional Governance in Couties and the two Houses, namely Senate and Parliament untill the time will come for Congress and Governors.

  • Macho Pevu ya kenya

    Former police commandant murdered
    Mr B Kimeli was a Ocampo Witness having been Aps Commandant at Embakasi training College of Aps >Aps were used to Rigg 2007 Elections Most of them got killed and the Govt burried them in Mass-graves ! Go ask their Families who has been silenced by the Kibaki Govt !Muthaura/UHuru/Kibaki Must be held responsible for Kimelis death!

    New rules to streamline police, AP recruitment
    There’s more than meets the eyes when ‘boys open fire’
    Senior officers eye Gatiba’s positionBy CYRUS OMBATI

    A former senior deputy commissioner of police and commandant of Kenya Police Training College Mr Bernard Kimeli was on Wednessday found murdered in his house in Nairobi’s Westlands area.

    Mr Kimeli who retired in March 2008 was found dead in his sitting room on Wednesday morning with stab wounds in his chest.

    He was half naked when he was found lying in a pool of blood by one of his sons. Kimeli was a senior Deputy Commissioner of police at the time of his retirement, which is two ranks from that of commissioner of police.

    Kimeli, 58, was alone in the house when unknown assailants attacked him on Tuesday night. His son had retired at the servant’s quarters and did not know how and who may have killed him.

    The sealed home of late Bernard Kimeli
    The motive of the murder is yet to be known but several documents were stolen from the house. Several drawers there had been searched and some documents scattered in the bedroom and sitting room.

    Interestingly, the killers did not steal the retired cop’s gun, which was found on the cupboard, next to where his body was lying.

    The retired officer and the son had watched the Champions’ League clash between Manchester United and Schalke 04 before the later left for bed.

    It was then that it is believed that the attackers arrived. Police suspect the killers must have been known to Mr Kimeli.

    Kimeli stayed in government houses in Muguga Greens, which are well protected. Some senior government officers live within the same compound.

    The killers gained entry into the compound through a ‘panya’ route that they created on a fence next to Kimeli’s house.

    They are then believed to have knocked the door asking for it to be opened. The theory emerged after it was discovered the main metal grilled door and the second one leading to the sitting room were not broken.

    Police said it was after killers had accessed the house that they attacked him by stabbing him severally on the chest.

    Blood stains were all over the house an indication Kimeli may have tried to fight them and later walked to where he had placed his gun but fell and died.

  • Ten Mile Strip

    FUNDING: The Likoni MRC chairman Rashid Kivyasto (R) with other members, NSIS boss Michael Gichangi summoned some Coast MPs over the issues of the outlawed group with allegations that they are funding the group. Photo/Elkana Jacob.

    Some leaders from the Coast finance activities of the proscribed Mombasa Republican Council, a Coast Parliamentary Group member said yesterday. This is the first time that any of the local leaders has admitted involvement in the group whose activities are currently under police investigations.

    At least 11 MPs from the Coast including Malindi MP Gideon Mung’aro and Fisheries minister Amason Kingi attended a meeting with the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) boss Michael Gichangi and Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode to discuss the MRC whose activities have been causing concern to the security agencies.

    During the meeting, the leaders were asked for their advice on how the government should deal with the group whose members agitate for the creation of an autonomous authority for the Coast region. “The MRC is just like the Mungiki from Central. The only difference is the group has sound objectives, and it is fighting for a just cause,” said one of the local leaders who attended the meeting with Gichangi.

    He said he and other leaders from the region provide financial and material support to the group. “It is one of our own, which we must support, and we do this by ensuring they get small monies for logistics and other important matters,” he said but declined to be identified fearing repercussions from the security agencies.

    According to those who were at the meeting, the MPs advised Gichangi to ‘go slow’ on the group, and give the representatives a hearing, instead of punishing them. They said the issues that MRC was raising in their campaigns were the same being articulated by the MPs and therefore it was unfair to target the group. “They are raising the same issues about land, the Lamu port and others which are the same things we MPs raise in Parliament,” said Kingi. Coast police boss Aggrey Adoli recently said the police were investigating claims that politicians from the region were funding MRC activities.

    Coast Provincial Commissioner Ernest Munyi has said the government had no intentions to negotiate with the group. Munyi has been quoted linking the MRC to Al-Shabaab. He claimed the MRC recruited local youth to go and fight with the Al Shabaab in Somalia. The MRC has been blamed for several attacks in the region including the 1997 raid at the Likoni Police Station during which two policemen were killed and guns and ammunition stolen. The raid was the percusor to the violence during which scores were killed and hundreds of people from upcountry displaced.

    The group is reported to be behind a campaign — particularly in Kwale — where they are confiscating the identity cards of residents to dissuade them from voting during the next elections. The MRC secretary, Salim Mlamba, confirmed that his group was in possession of thousands of IDs which were voluntarily surrendered by the locals, most of whom have heeded its call not to take part in the electoral process. The MRC agitates for the secession of Coast region from Kenya, saying the Kenyan government has failed to honour an agreement it entered during the pre-colonial period. The MRC has gone to court to challenge the government’s decision to declare it a proscribed group.

    Several months ago, Kisauni MP Ali Hassan Joho claimed the group sent him a letter asking him to join but he refused. Several MRC members have been arrested and charged in Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa, for illegal assembly and belonging to an outlawed sect. Mlamba said the group has never engaged in illegal activities, despite being associated with illegal training in Mulungunipa Forest and oath taking.

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