University of Nairobi student arrested on his way to Libya to join ISIS terror group

Hassanein Ahmed Basty

A first year University of Nairobi student has been arrested as he tried to travel to Libya to join terror group ISIS.

Police say they arrested the University of Nairobi Biochemistry student Hassanein Ahmed Basty as he prepared to leave Kenya for Libya.

Basty had been on the police radar and was arrested as he left for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while headed for Sudan where he would connect to Libya.

This is one of the incidents in which young Kenyans are increasingly being recruited and taken to join terror groups to fight alongside extremists.

The student was arrested Thursday as police revealed the recruiters lure youths with the promise of well-paying jobs in foreign countries only for the unfortunate youth to find themselves forcefully recruited into such extremist groups in Northern Africa and Middle East.

“The young man had just completed his first year studying biochemistry in University of Nairobi,” said a police officer involved in the sting operation.

Police investigations have established that in early 2015 Hassanein was lured by an online recruiter who promised him a job as a phlebotomist with a starting salary of Sh200,000 which would eventually increase to Sh1 million.

He was notified in October 2015 that his application had been successful and thereby decided to take up the job offer.

The student had apparently used part of his University fees given by his parent to buy his ticket to Sudan, which is one of the transit routes to the war-torn country of Libya but was arrested before he accomplished his mission.

There has been an upsurge of University students dropping out to join extremist groups in Libya and the Middle East, often without their parents’ knowledge. Police are urging parents to regularly be in touch with their children in institutions of higher learning as well as the institutions so as to deter illegal recruitments.

Police are still continuing with investigations on the syndicate to establish local collaborators.

More than 12 Kenyans left last year alone to join the terror groups.

Mahmoud Ahmed and his cousin Mohamed Abdulswamed are among those who went to Syria last year to fight alongside the group.

According to police, the recruiting agent picked them from Nairobi and drove towards Eastleigh, then hit the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway before ending up at the Busia border and crossed to Uganda, South Sudan and to their destination.

Mahmoud was a second year Bachelor of science fisheries and aquaculture management student at the University of Nairobi while his cousin Abdulswamed, had graduated from Moi University.

They went missing in April 21 when they were thought to have been picked by their recruiters in the city.

According to police, the same group that recruited the two girls who also joined ISIS, Salwa Abdalla and Twafiqa Dahir was behind Mahmoud and Abdulswamed’s departure.

The two friends Salwa and Twafiqa were university students at University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University respectively. They disappeared from their homes in South C Estate, Nairobi early 2015. 

They have since communicated to their families saying they are in Syria.

Former University of Nairobi Law student and a banker led Al-Shabaab militants that massacred 148 people at Garissa University College last year.

Mohammed Abdirahim Abdullahi, nicknamed Ababmo by his classmates at the Law Faculty in Nairobi’s Parklands Campus and the banker at a local bank Khalid Isaack were among four terrorists who were killed by the Recce squad that had responded to the attack.

The government has embarked on a major campaign against radicalisation while urging dozens of youths who had joined terror groups to surrender.