By ISHAQ JUMBE
MOMBASA, KENYA: The mosque was built by the family of former Mombasa mayor Ali Taib and after the death of the family patriarch, affairs and running of the mosque was left in the hands of Taib's brother.
During the IPK insurgency in the 1990s that rocked the nearby Sakina mosque, orphans of the banned political party including the late Sheikh Aboud Rogo sought refuge in Masjid Musa and after infiltration of Al Shabaab insurgents in the mosque, Masjid Musa cemented its reputation as the hotbed of Jihadism in the country more than a decade ago.
"That is the point when the Taib family left the running of the mosque to a selected committee," an informant told the Standard.
Committee after committee wrestled for control of the mosque from the Islamists until an idea was mooted that a retired KPA employee who had a reputation of commanding respect in the community take up the role of chairman of the committee of the Musa Mosque in a bid to establish a sense of normalcy in the institution.
"Islam Oshan was expected to iron out affairs of the mosque by controlling the Jihadists who had taken over the affairs of the mosque. And he would have succeeded were it not for the late Sheikh Rogo and his fiery sermons," the informant continues.
Matters came to a head with the killing of the late Rogo when his followers became emboldened as they demanded the killers of the late Sheikh to be named.
Oshan and his committee had a tough time controlling the restless supporters of the late Rogo and his close associates stepped into his shoes to continue with the evening lectures.
One of them Sheikh Ibrahim Amur was killed five months ago alongside three other people and the pressure on the committee from both the government and faithful in the mosque was too much for the committee to bear.
Then the mosque committee were summoned to the provincial headquatres where Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku in person delivered President Uhuru Kenyatta’s message that radicalisation lectures in the mosque have to be discontinued forthwith.
That was after the youth had burnt the nearby Salvation Church while demonstrating the killings of their clerics the previous day.
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Oshan and his committee hung a notice at the entrance of the mosque to the effect that preaching in the mosque without the express authority of the committee would no longer be tolerated alongside begging and making impromptu announcements.
"The youth did not even take notice of the directive and even brought a preacher from Tanzania to a newly appointed imam leading to the intensification of militant lectures."
"There was nothing the committee could do besides taking away the podium from the mosque and hiding it in an undisclosed place," Standard was told.
A bitter row erupted when the jihadists demanded for what had now become of the 'shuhaddaa podium' (matry's podium) form which Rogo and his ilk had issued sermons with the committee refusing to avail the treasured relic.
The last straw for the committee was when radical youths from Musa violently took over Sakina mosque throwing out long serving iman Sheikh Mohamed Idris and Council Of Imams and Preachers Kenya Secretary General Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa from the pulpit.
They had now demonstrated that they were unstoppable and the Committee threw in the gauntlet after seizing a separate mosque -Umar Ibn al Khattab-in Kisauni.
According to Oshan, serving in the committee had become a risky affair and that is why its members withdrew from the mosque, leaving it entirely in the hands of the Jihadists.
"The planned convention that was interrupted by the police was the first among many that had been planned by the group in a series of conventions that were aimed at converting the mosque into a fully functional Islamist Jihad center,", the Standard was informed.
Members who according to some estimates were in thousands gathered at the mosque as early as 9.00 am in the morning for a programe that was aimed at transforming their lives.
However, when police finally stormed the mosque, they found, among other things food for the participants and an assortment of crude weapons.
"This was obviously not a prayer meeting," one security officer was heard saying.
A member of the County security committee told the press that they would have a meeting to deliberate the fate of Masjid Musa once and for all.