By David Ochami and Willis Oketch
KENYA: A new UN report has linked Mombasa-based terror suspect Abubakar Shariff Ahmed alias Makaburi to an emerging terror threat across Kenya and Tanzania.
The report accuses him of providing “operational direction and guidance” to terrorist groups.
Makaburi is now being associated with a Tanzanian group, Ansar Muslim Youth Centre, and Kenya’s Al Hijra, both deemed to be affiliated to Al Shabaab.
“He (Makaburi) is currently exerting a dominant influence over Al Hijra and intensifying his activities,” says the report in part.
But in a swift rebuttal, Makaburi, who is facing terror and incitement charges, denied any association with these two groups, terming the UN report as a fabrication by the US.
He added that the “UN are looking for ways to kill Muslims to get a scapegoat to go and steal abundant natural resources from Somalia.”
“I have heard about Al Hijra and that it is in Nairobi, but I do not know anything about it nor am I linked to it,” he said.
Makaburi claims he cannot fund the Al Shabaab as he is “not a millionaire”.
On Thursday, Makaburi said it was technically impossible to plan anything with Jermaine John Grant, a Briton who, like Makaburi, is facing multiple terror charges, as alleged in the report. He accused the UN of “acting on behalf of the US” to tarnish his name because he was Muslim.
The report dated July 12, also says Grant continues to provide assistance for “on-going plots” involving Al Hijra and Makaburi, despite his incarceration at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi.
The report, prepared by the UN Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea for the UN Security Council, stirs memories of slain terror suspects Mohamed Aboud Rogo and Mohamed Fazul Abdullah.
Unknown gunmen in Mombasa killed Rogo on August 27, last year. Somali government forces reportedly killed Fazul in June 2011, in Mogadishu.
The report seeks to demonstrate that despite their legal problems, Makaburi and Grant continue to hold high profiles within Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda circles in East Africa and that Rogo remains a crucial factor in understanding Al Qaeda and terrorism even in death.
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Makaburi’s and Grant’s alleged links to terrorism are derived from their alleged support for Al Hijra, the successor of the Muslim Youth Centre based in Nairobi’s Pumwani slums, and which has been accused in past UN reports of raising money for Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda as well recruiting fighters for the Somali extremist movement.
Past UN reports allege that Pumwani Riyadha Mosque Committee provides ideological and financial support for Al Hijra.
Ahmed Iman Ali, the group’s former leader, is said to lead Kenyan jihadists based in Somalia.
Despite recent setbacks, which include battle ground losses by Al Shabaab in Somalia, Rogo’s killing and the assassination of operatives in Kenya, the report shows the group remains a threat to Kenya.
Owing to these recent setbacks, the report alleges that “Al Hijra, in partnership with the Ansar Muslim Youth Centre in the United Republic of Tanzania, has sought operational direction and guidance since 2012”.