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"Terrorists’ tried to enter Kenya twice

01:10 Feb 22 2015 Nairobi, Kenya

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Seven suspected terrorists have, on two occasions, attempted to enter the country, pretending they have been invited for socio-religious activities in Eastleigh, Nairobi.

The Indonesians claimed they were invited by a group, Markaz-ur-Rashaad Trust, and that they would be in Kenya for four months.

However, the Indonesian embassy in Kenya raised the red flag and advised authorities to urgently investigate the activities of the group that was to host them.

“The group could not clearly explain what the socio-religious activities will entail,” the mission warned in a letter to the Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary, and copied to the ministry’s political and diplomatic secretary.

It was not immediately established when the seven first attempted to enter Kenya, but the last attempt was on January 15 when they applied for visas be allowed into the country on January 25.

The embassy warned Kenya that the seven were from “a country with a large number of radicalised fighters in Syria and Iraq”.

The embassy also said it did not understand why the Indonesians, who live in Malaysia, decided to make their visa applications directly to Nairobi instead of going through the Kenyan embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

A senior ministry official who sought anonymity confirmed that the information was received and that the applicants did not enter the country.

But he could not confirm if they were terrorists or not. “The report on the activities of the group that invited them is complete but we cannot divulge the details,” he said.

The letter indicated the applicants were Mr Sultan Basri, passport number A7759789, Mr Said Abdur Rahman (A5399295), Mr Hanafi Baso (A9302859), and Mr Siafruddin Majadi Sila (W394594). The others were Mr Abdipurjaya Abdul Azis (A8301473), Mr Tarrang Ballung Mattingara (A6326984) and Mr Amir Karim (A6538527).

“We are still holding their applications. In the meantime, we request the ministry to liaise with the National Intelligence Service to investigate Markaz-ur-Rashaad Trust and establish purpose of the planned visit,” the letter further read.

Kenya has experienced several security challenges that have prompted authorities to enhance covert operations across the county. At least 10 terrorist attacks are said to have been foiled in the past two months.

On Friday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who spoke during the Ministerial Session of the White House on Countering Violent Extremism, in the USA, said Kenya was experiencing a growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism due to the 700 kilometre border it shares with Somalia, among other factors.

Maj Gen (Rtd) Nkaissery noted that terrorists were using locals to plan and execute attacks.

“In line with this, Al-Shabaab is luring local youths and using their bases in Somalia to recruit, radicalise, train and plan terrorist attacks against Kenya and the region,” he told the global summit.

The meeting came barely a month after the country hosted a meeting to evaluate Kenya’s efforts in implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1624 on prohibition of incitement to commit terrorist acts and UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which requires states to take concrete steps to address the threat of foreign terrorist fighters.

Mr Nkaissery lamented that the big indigenous Somali population in Kenya had complicated the fight against infiltration by the extremists.

The country has more than 600,000 refugees, a majority of them in refugee camps. Reports show that the refugee camps, education institutions, mosques, prisons and welfare as well assistance centres are now vulnerable to radicalisation.

“We have also seen use of protected spaces to foment violent extremism. Refugee camps are particularly vulnerable to radicalisation,” he added.

Other factors have been identified as the expanded democratic space, growing use of electronic media to recruit and train candidates for extremism, and desire for better lives by the youth.
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