Saturday 25 February 2017

Kenyan terrorist was the 'brilliant' son of top official

Aislinn Laing

Red Cross staff console a woman after she viewed the body of a relative killed in Thursday’s attack on Garissa University, at Chiromo funeral home in Nairobi, Kenya
Red Cross staff console a woman after she viewed the body of a relative killed in Thursday’s attack on Garissa University, at Chiromo funeral home in Nairobi, Kenya

One of the four gunmen who killed 142 students at Garissa University in Kenya was the son of a local government official and described as a "high-flying, grade-A student" with a promising career ahead.

Abdirahim Abdullahi, a law graduate from the University of Nairobi, was reported missing to the authorities last year by his father, a council official in Mandera - close to the border with Ethiopia and Somalia - who feared he had become radicalised and joined al-Shabaab.

One report suggested he may also have tried to leave Kenya to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) but had been turned back at the border because he did not have a passport.

Photographs released to the media yesterday were thought to show Abdullahi dressed in a suit and tie and grinning with colleagues at a work function, then lying dead on a concrete floor dressed in a striped shirt and chinos with a flak jacket over the top and spent bullet cartridges scattered around.

Mwenda Njoka, an interior ministry spokesman, said Abdullahi had been "a brilliant upcoming lawyer".

"The father had reported to security agents that his son had disappeared from home and was helping the police try to trace him by the time the Garissa terror attack happened," Mr Njoka said.

The 'Kenya Today' newspaper reported that he had been sent by his family to one of Kenya's top private schools, where teachers and fellow pupils described him as "a very bright and intelligent guy" who for some time worked as a legal officer in a bank. A Garissa-based official said the government was aware Abdullahi joined the militant group al-Shabaab after graduating in 2013. "He was a very brilliant student. Then he got these crazy ideas," he said.

The disclosure that at least one of the gunmen was Kenyan has prompted deep concern in the east African country, which has previously been targeted because of its efforts to halt the spread of al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia.

It was also evidence that al-Shabaab's tactic of focusing recruitment efforts increasingly south of the border with Somalia have been working. Commentators said the terrorist group's pamphlets are increasingly written in Swahili rather than Somali or Arabic, and focus on the grievances of marginalised Muslims in Kenya.

It emerged too that the elite Recce group dispatched to end the 13-hour siege on Garissa University waited in Nairobi on standby for seven hours before being given the go-ahead, arriving at the scene 11 hours after the attack started and bringing it to a conclusion in little over 30 minutes. Three police officers and three soldiers as well as the 142 students were killed during the siege. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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