Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kenya blocked UN anti-terrorism team tracking Al-Shabaab, says report

Kenya blocked UN anti-terrorism team tracking Al-Shabaab, says report

By Stanley Mwahanga and David Ochami

Updated Wednesday, May 20th 2015 at 00:00 GMT +3

Kenya Defence Forces' troops patrol the streets of Fafadun township. A report has said Kenya was frustrating the work of a UN team that has been tracking Al-Shabaab, piracy and violations of an arms embargo on Somalia. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD] Terrorists planted an explosive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi last year, according to the latest United Nations report tracking the activities of Al-Shabaab terror networks in the Horn of Africa. Kenya has never publicly acknowledged that an improvised explosive device (IED) was to blame in the security scare at the airport last year, but the UN says the bomb was an attempt by the terror group to forment fear in the country.

The bomb scare precipitated the arrest of the Third Secretary in Somalia’s Kenyan embassy Ilyas Yussuf Warsame and five other unnamed people. The report also says a UN investigator Babatunde Taiwo, an armed groups expert, faced hostility from senior Kenya and Somalia officials and was repeatedly attacked, threatened and finally denied re-entry into the country by immigration officers after the Westgate attack in Nairobi.

The report says the Westgate attack was “conceived in Somalia, planned at a United Nations refugee camp and executed in Eastleigh, but that in the days preceding and following the attack, Kenyan authorities began to obstruct the operations of the UN Monitoring Group of Somalia and Eritrea. The group tracks operations of Al-Shabaab in Kenya and its affiliate Al-Hijra. In recent years, this UN panel has named several top Kenyans over alleged links to Al-Shabaab and the controversial Riyadha Mosque in Nairobi’s Pumwani slums. In 2011, it named a minister and nominated MP, who are still in Government, as fund raisers for the controversial mosque.

The report says Kenya was frustrating the work of the UN team that has been tracking Al-Shabaab, piracy and violations of an arms embargo on Somalia. See also: 'Jihadi brides' to be charged tomorrow It talks of several incidents of obstruction and where Government officials blatantly lied to them.

According to the report, Kenya prevented an expert from remaining at his duty station,” after advising the UN to relocate him for his own safety, but refused to allow him back after the alleged security threat was addressed or discounted. “The Monitoring Group continues to be confronted with efforts to obstruct its work, especially by means of targeting either the investigations or the credibility and reputation of individual members of the Group,” says the report dated October 13, 2014. The report was prepared on September 9 last year, for the chairman of the UN Security Council Committee.

In 2013, the panel named an employee of the Senate, Abdulmajid Ali, alleging that he has links to Al-Shabaab. Kenyan officials then openly blasted Mr Taiwo, who was alleged to have uncovered Al-Shabaab’s activities in Kenya. Kenyan authorities also have not publicly acknowledged that there has been a diplomatic dispute between Nairobi and UN over the alleged mistreatment of Taiwo who was forced to leave Kenya after the Westgate attack on the recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The report claims that on August 30, 2013 Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho wrote to the Director General of the UN office in Nairobi alleging a security threat against Taiwo, causing him to be relocated from Kenya. “Following a UN security assessment that cleared the expert’s return to Nairobi and in the light of the mandate of the Monitoring Group under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs and the Acting Head of the Department of Safety and Security informed the Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, Macharia Kamau, in a letter dated 24 December 2013, of the expert’s redeployment to Nairobi,” the report says. But in a letter dated December 30, 2013, Kenya was not willing to allow the expert entry into the country.

The report does not state what reasons were given for not allowing Taiwo back into the country, but it adds that on January 14 last year, the UN wrote to Kenya stressing the UN monitor’s importance to the anti-terror probe and requested his immediate return, but there was no response. By the time of writing the report last year, the Government had not responded, the report says and concludes that the official’s relocation “significantly interfered with the UN probe of Al-Shabaab at a critical juncture in Somalia. See also: 'Jihadi brides' to be charged tomorrow Yesterday, Mr Kibicho said he would respond to these allegations when he returns from abroad. “There is a clear procedure of vetting foreigners who come to our country. Whether such foreigners work for the UN or otherwise. I need to be in Nairobi to check the facts about that specific case,” he wrote back.

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