Slain militant traced to remote Wajir village as Wajir South mourns victims

Suspect fires at people inside the Dusit hotel in Nirobi before he was killed by police on 15th January,2019. At least four members of Alshabaab were killed by police. [Photo: Courtesy]

Residents of Wajir have identified one of the attackers in Tuesday’s terrorist attack at Dusit hotel as hailing from a village called Shaletey.

In a strange twist of fate, two victims of the cowardly attack were also from Wajir.

While those who say they knew the men insist that their meeting was coincidental, this has not stopped conspiracy theories from being bandied about.

It has been suggested that one of the militants could have stumbled upon people he knew from back home and killed them in a fit of rage. Some reports suggest that the two Wajir men were the first to be killed when the terrorists stormed the hotel.

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According to multiple sources, the light-skinned militant captured on CCTV in blue fatigues with a green cloth around the neck and brandishing an AK-47 rifle was, until recently, working as a motor vehicle mechanic in the Bulla Medina area of Wajir town.

Roots in Mandera

Although the killer has been traced to a particular village, other sources suggested that he was an ethnic Marehan with roots in Mandera County.

Sources told The Standard that the terrorist, whose name no one was willing to disclose, received no formal education in his native Shaletey town from where he moved to apprentice as a mechanic.

“This face is not new to me. We have seen him before. He hails from Shaletey village and used to work as a mechanic in town,” said a resident who asked not to be named for fear of retribution by State security agencies or Al Shabaab.

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According to one official, the terrorist’s name was difficult to establish because he rarely ventured out of Bulla Medina where he lived and worked.

“He was commonly known as fundi (mechanic) and we did not know his real name,” volunteered another source, adding that the man “was said to have a family and was in his late thirties.”

But none of our sources could tell when the man vanished.

“I cannot tell when he left. I had forgotten about him and was surprised to see his face on television,” said another resident who confirmed the mechanic claim but declined to reveal the location of the garage where the militant allegedly worked.

We also established that cousins Abdalla Mohamed Sheikh Dahir and Feisal Ahmed Rashid who died in the attack also hailed from the county.

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According to reliable accounts from sources in Garissa and Wajir, the two were natives of Leheley sub-county in Wajir South constituency although Abdalla schooled and lived within the vicinity of Bulla Medina while Feisal lived in Nairobi for years.

These accounts indicated that both men had worked in Kismayu and Mogadishu for years after training as journalists in Nairobi where they were employed by UK foreign aid contractor Adam Smith after returning from Somalia. Abdalla schooled at Wajir primary and secondary schools and his late father was an imam at a local mosque.

Meanwhile, fresh reports indicate that one of the terrorists vanished from Nyeri town without trace about seven years.

Known only as Njung’e, the man took the name Farouk after converting to Islam as a 20-year-old man before arriving in Nyeri about ten years ago to pursue his father’s inheritance. It is not clear what the problem with his deceased father’s property was and whether he managed to secure it.

Those who claim to know him say the Njung’e family is prominent in the area. Reports indicate he cut links with his family and has not been seen for years. His mother, though, is said to still reside in the county.

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WajirCCTVAK-47 rifleAbdalla Mohamed Sheikh DahirDusit Hotel attackAl-Shabaab terror attackRiverside Drive