|Jamia Mosque officials from left Ibrahim Ahmed, Sheikh Farouk Adam and Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome during a press conference at the facility in Nairobi Tuesday. [PHOTO: MBUGUA KIBERA/STANDARD]|
By WILLIS OKETCH and NGUMBAO KITHI
Mombasa, Kenya: Police in Mombasa say it may take them two months to sift through the treasure trove of information seized from the controversial Musa Mosque after Sunday’s violent clashes.
Sources told The Standard investigators are sifting through documents and analysing electronic information seized from militants after the deadly clashes with a group reportedly attending a jihadist convention.
And preliminary reports indicate the material has valuable information reports indicate the material has valuable information that could be used to uncover terror suspects.
A top security official warned that more raids on other mosques would follow adding that police have a right to storm any place where they suspect a crime is being committed.
Reports also emerged that the crier of the nearby and equally controversial Sakina Mosque was among those killed in Sunday’s raid.
Militant sources warned that radicals would try to hold another convention on Sunday.
Police believe they have struck invaluable information and identities of suspects that will enable them establish a database of militants, their residences, ages, nationalities network and plans.
Reports show that no less than a dozen foreigners, especially from Tanzania and the Comoros are among the detainees at Shimo la Tewa Prison.
Besides an AK-47 rifle, machetes and other iron implements, police also captured jihadist flags, stun guns and hundreds of textbooks in a secret cabinet, as well as maps, registers, pictures and information on alleged spies and “Muslim traitors” and terrorist training manuals hidden in toilets, bathrooms and under carpets.
One document, reportedly contains names of militants across East Africa, even as far as Burundi, while one audio tape allegedly calls for Muslims to volunteer to attack countries allegedly oppressing Muslims in Somalia, an apparent reference to nations contributing peacekeeping troops to Somalia.
And police said they have no regrets over the storming of the mosque, which some Muslim leaders have described as desecration with Mombasa CID Henry Ondiek declaring that the raid was a legitimate response to an immediate security threat.
“If you look at the penal code and all other legal literature in Kenya there is nowhere police are barred from entering a place where crimes like terrorism are being committed. We shall continue storming mosques and anywhere where serious crimes such as planning mass attacks on innocent people are being planned,” said Ondiek.
Ondiek added that police “cannot wait for a crime to be committed when we know that the perpetrators are planning to destroy.” Ondiek told The Standard that police stormed the mosque “in full police uniform” after being fired on from inside the building, adding that a police officer was captured and his G-3 rifle taken by a rowdy mob.
According to Ondiek the people in the mosque used the G-3 rifle to attack the police before it was recovered.
The police officer said three laptops recovered from the mosque’s main hall will be transported for decoding to the CID headquarter’s Cybercrime Unit.
According to a militant who escaped the mayhem, the three laptops belonged to six Muslim scholars, including a Kenyan Al-Shabaab member who recently returned from Somalia, and who were using them in their lectures. They contained maps of various places in East Africa and training material in English, Kiswahili and Arabic.
The Standard also learnt that one of the lecturers in Sunday’s session is a blind cleric from Majengo slums who gave teachings justifying jihad and was also detained. Six lecturers taught on various topics justifying jihad, claiming conspiracies against Muslims and exhorting the faithful to prepare for ishtishhaad (life of sacrifice). All of them, including a Tanzanian, were wounded and detained in the assault.
Meanwhile detectives disclosed that police found 200 compact discs and several memory sticks on the main floor of the mosque as well as in cabinets across its floors.
An official who has looked at the CDs disclosed that some of the audio pictures in them contain training sessions of Al-Shabaab inside Somalia translated into English and Kiswahili.
Besides the pictures of slain Al-Qaeda founder Usama bin Ladin, some of the CDs contained videos of Kenyan jihadists training in Somalia and Syria. And besides paper documents seized on the floor, police report that they captured several suitcases with documents, hundreds of identity cards and passports in boxes and bags.
“We will need two months to go through these CDs and documents,” said Mombasa county police commander Robert Kitur who said detectives were trying to establish if the ID cards were genuine.
He also said that some of the CDs were audio instructions in light weapons training, combat and indoctrination.
He added that after sifting through the trove of information, detectives would be able to know “who among the suspects were propagandists, trainers and facilitators of the ill-fated jihad convention.
And the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), which has lately faced the wrath of radicalised youth, announced through its chairman, Sheikh Mohamed Idriss, that parents were partly to blame for the growth of militancy among children.
“The parents are to blame for this problem. They have no idea what the children are doing and most are strangers to their children,” said Idriss.