By JUMA KWAYERA
Anti-terrorism police are investigating dramatic claims of an Al Shabaab attempt to hit at the heart of the Kenya Defence Forces in the early weeks of ‘ Operation Linda Nchi’. This follows the report of a bizarre plot by a junior army soldier accused of desertion.
Police officers who have listened to his tale are unsure whether it is true or whether it is a cock-and-bull story from a troubled young soldier unhappy with his job.
When contacted for comment, the Department of Defence denied receiving any report about unauthorised people entering a KDF facility. DoD, however, confirmed it was aware of the ATPU’s involvement in the matter.
Senior Private Benson Maina spilled the beans two weeks ago in an exclusive interview with The Standard On Saturday. At the runaway soldier’s request, two officers from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit sat in on the interview.
Maina says he was blackmailed into several meetings with alleged terrorists that wanted to infiltrate one of the country’s security installations. He says he first met them inside a secure facility that they had succeeded in entering unchallenged in January.
According to the junior officer, the men seemed interested in the sabotage of newly acquired aircraft. He says the terrorists wanted to limit the effectiveness of Kenya’s air attacks, which were having a punishing effect on the insurgents.
The alleged incident took place three months after Kenya’s military tanks entered Somalia in “hot pursuit” of the Al Qaeda-linked group. This was about the same time another failed Al Shabaab plot to assassinate two Kenyan officials disclosed by the Internal Security ministry. No arrests have been made in both cases.
When told about the claims, Defence Assistance Minister David Musila expressed shock. His Internal Security counterpart Orwa Ojode, who recently died in an unexplained Kenya Police helicopter crash, termed the affair “dangerous”. The army, on the other hand, says this is a case of an officer facing disciplinary measures making things worse with his dangerous lies.
“We are treating this case as one of gross indiscipline,” says DoD public affairs officer Capt Thomas Mwanga. “His allegations can only jeopardise the reputation of KDF as they lack material evidence.”
The Senior Private claims he prevented two suspected terrorists from accessing an installation in Embakasi housing the Kenya Army’s 50th Air Calvary Batallion. He says the incident took place on the night of January 12, just before he fled his workplace in mysterious circumstances.
The Kenya Air Force has its main fighter base in Nanyuki and its main transport base (Moi) at Eastleigh in Nairobi. It also has forward operating bases in Wajir, Mandera and Nyeri. The army, on the other hand, relies on the Embakasi-based 50th ACB for direct anti-tank air support and reconnaissance.