My days with terror suspect Fazul

By Maureen Mudi

A senior education officer told a court she rented her house in a posh Nairobi estate to Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a most wanted terror suspect.

Senior Assistant Director Tamara Chepkemboi Kipingor told the Mombasa court, yesterday that Fazul was her tenant for four months. He then left in a hurry, claiming his father was ill.

Testifying before acting Senior Principal Magistrate Lilian Mutende, Ms Kipingor said she owned the house in Runda and advertised through the Press when it was vacant.

"I had put my contact numbers on the poster, which Fazul and a friend used to call before we met and settled on a tenancy agreement," she said.

The prosecution witness said she met Fazul and a friend in April 1998. He said he was from Morocco, and they settled on a monthly rent of Sh50,000 after which he paid the deposit.

Signed hurriedly

"He was in a hurry and did not read the agreement, but signed it nonetheless. He took occupancy almost immediately, saying he would live there for six months," she said.

This was in a case where three relatives face charges of harbouring Fazul, knowing he was a wanted man linked to the August 7, 1998 Nairobi and November 28, 2002 Kikambala bombings.

Mr Mahfudh Ashur Hemed, his wife Lutfiya Abubakar and son Ibrahim Mahfudh face charges of hiding the suspect.

Ms Kipingor said Fazul, who lived with his wife and two children, had said he would occupy the house for six months, but was surprised when he called one night and said they had to leave.

"He brought the keys, but I refused to take them and asked him why he was in a hurry. It was a few weeks after the Nairobi bomb-blast," she said.

The defence, led by lawyers Jared Magolo, Abubakar Yusuf and Abdallah Mazrui, asked her to confirm whether she was sure the two passports she had been shown by the police positively identified Fazul.

She said the pictures on the passports showed Fazul had grown more hair and had a moustache unlike ten years back when he was clean shaven. The witness said she testified in the United States in relation to terrorism cases and her initial statement, recorded in 1998 was kept in a file.

The defence had asked her why she recorded two more statements on December 30, last year, and January 22.

The suspects are charged with welcoming Fazul and helping him escape punishment and harboured him in the country illegally.