Saturday 20 January 2018

Desperate Welsh dad: ‘I flew to Kenya to save my son from joining Islamic terror group’

Antony Stone

THE father of one of two teenagers arrested by anti-terror police in Kenya has told how he flew to Africa in a desperate effort to save his son.

Abdirhman Haji Abdallah, from Cardiff, flew to Nairobi fearing his son planned to join Islamist rebel group al Shabab.

His desperate mission was triggered after both teenagers, long-time friends from Cardiff, disappeared more than a week before.

His son Mohamed Mohamed, of Somali descent, and Iqbal Shahzad, of Pakistani descent, were arrested before crossing the border.

Neither teenager has been officially named by the authorities in the UK or Kenya.

On arrival Mr Abdallah immediately revealed the identities of both teenagers to the authorities in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

He also provided them with a photograph of his son which was helpful in tracking down the teenagers.

Fears that both teenagers may have been radicalised and intended to join a terror training camp in Somalia were behind his action.

His intervention came as members of the Muslim community in Cardiff were contacting the authorities in the UK to communicate their fears.

Mr Abdallah told the BBC Somali Service that Kenyan police had arrested his son near the Somalia-Kenya border at Lamu.

"I thought that he was coming here to go to the war in Somalia," he said.

He said that he had since been allowed to see his son and described him as seeming "very happy".

He added: "Plus you do not feel guilty, because he is not guilty."

Previously Charles Owino, deputy spokesman for the Kenyan police, said both teenagers had been arrested crossing into Somalia.

"They are under investigation by the anti-terrorism unit of the Kenyan police," he added.

Today both continue to be questioned but expectations are rising they will eventually be deported to Britain without action.

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael has praised the the intervention of the community for its "positive" approach.

In the face of rising fears that both boys had been radicalised community leaders called in the authorities in the UK.

"The Muslim community became very concerned when they discovered that two young men had gone missing, one from a Somali background and one from a Pakistan background," he said.

"They are both quite young, about 17 or 18, and from what I have been told they are two bright, intelligent young men who have got their lives before them.

"It was an immensely positive meeting for a community that doesn't want to see the message of Islam distorted and are determined to provide a positive model for their young people.

"Everyone is relieved the two boys have been found."

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