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Al-Shabaab is plotting to blow up Parliament

01:52 Mar 1 2015 Nairobi, Kenya

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At least 12 suspected terrorists are believed to be plotting an attack against Parliament, police sources have warned, prompting all government institutions to be put on heightened security alert.

Intelligence reports indicate that six of the suspects could be in Nairobi already although the whereabouts of the other six are yet to be established.

Reports about the possible attack came as it emerged that the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi had also asked Kenya’s security agents to heighten security measures around Egyptian installations, including the embassy itself, its envoy’s residence and other sensitive Egyptian organisations and premises.

“The Embassy kindly requests the relevant Kenyan authorities to take what it deems appropriate to upgrade and tighten security measures around Egyptian installations in Kenya,” said the letter dated February 20.

Intelligence reports have warned that a vehicle carrying explosive materials is likely to be used against Parliament unless police thwart the attempt. It was not clear where the vehicle could be and when the attack will be carried out.

The attack, according to the security report, was planned by Mr Mohammed Mohamud alias Dulyadeen alias Gamadheere, who heads one of the arms of Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based terrorist group.

FIOREIGN FIGHTERS

Mohamud, who claimed responsibility for the November 22, 2014 bus attack in Mandera, is said to have dispatched 12 foreign fighters to Kenya about three weeks ago.

On receiving reports about the threat of possible attack, Parliament immediately came up with measures to deal with the threat. Additional security officers were deployed, both inside and outside the premises to prevent any security breach and to respond swiftly in case of an attack.

The acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Samwel Arachi, yesterday told the Nation that security had been enhanced around all critical government installations.

“We have deployed both static and mobile teams,” he said. The teams are backed up by more than 100 security staff attached to Parliament.

A senior officer has been assigned in charge of all the police officers undertaking the operation regardless of the units that seconded them. Parliament has also directed that all the 500 security officers who work with MPs as bodyguards to undergo extensive training in VIP protection and how to fight terrorism.

Parliament is also in the process of acquiring a new and sophisticated security system to respond adequately to new security challenges, including terrorism.

It has already advertised for tenders for installation of the system. Other recommendations to enhance its security include a proposal to establish a Parliamentary Police Unit. An earlier MoU signed between the police service and Parliament, to pave the way for the creation of the new unit, has been revised.

EXTENSIVE TRAINING

The security managers for both the National Assembly and the Senate have, in recent weeks, undergone extensive training on counter-terrorism in Israel while others have been trained on VIP protection and security management in Israel and South Africa.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said that although he was not aware of a specific threat, security around Parliament had been heightened.
“You see those dogs which security officers are moving around with? We brought them because of such threats. There is much more, which we plan to do,” he said.

There have been previous plots targeting Parliament before, all of which have been thwarted.

On September 13, 2012, a planned attack failed after the vehicle the terrorists were using, a red Peugeot 505, broke down.

Three suspects, Abdimajid Yassin, Ali Hussein and a third only identified as Abdurahman, had planned to wear suicide vests with which they were to blow themselves up once inside the precincts of Parliament. Mohamed was jailed for 59 years after he pleaded guilty to charges of terrorism.
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