Sim card gives detectives crucial clues to intricate web of terrorists

Terror suspects Osman Ibrahim, Guleid Abdihakim, Gladys Kaari Justus, Oliver Kanyango Muthee and Joel Ng’ang’a in court yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]
More faces were yesterday added to the intricate web of events that led to the bloody terror attack at Nairobi’s dusitD2 Hotel complex.

A suit filed in court yesterday revealed the last movements of the terrorists before the attack that left scores dead and people thought to be close to the bloodthirsty criminals.

Now, investigators hope those arraigned before court hold the key to the shocking attack that drew Nairobi residents out of their false sense of safety on that tragic Tuesday afternoon. The piecing together of this elaborate web started with perhaps the terrorists’ weakest link- the Toyota Ractis KCE 340 E that they used to access the venue.

Bits of information, such as two mobile phones - a Techno macron with a Safaricom Sim card, a Nokia Phone without a sim card and a black HP elite book laptop which had been extensively damaged all proved useful.

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The Safaricom Sim card led to the first person of interest named in the court papers with one name Erik. It is from Erik’s national Identity Card, which investigators say had registered 11 other sim cards that sleuths arrested two taxi operators, an M-pesa agent and a Canadian national.

It is unclear whether the Erik referred in the suit papers is the same Erik Kinyajui who was sought by police in Ngecha area, Kiambu. The first taxi driver in court was Joel Ng’ang’a Wainaina. Investigators nabbed him a day after the attack around MP Shah Hospital.  

According to Inspector Monicah Githaiga, information obtained from Ng’ang’a and others obtained elsewhere show he ferried one of the attackers to various destinations around Nairobi.

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“All respondents were arrested due to their possible involvement in aiding and abetting the terrorist attack that took place on January 15 and 16 at dusitD2 Hotel Complex Riverside area in Nairobi County,” swore Ms Githaiga in her affidavit presented before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku.

Another lead from the car led them to Guango estate in Kiambu County. The car revealed the life of Ali Salim Gichunge alias Farouk who was one of the attackers as well as that of his lover Violet Kemunto Omwoyo.

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Investigators got Salim’s ID number – 30187055, which led them to three mobile phone numbers. Kemunto’s ID number – 29733620- led investigators to six other mobile phone numbers.

Investigators say Salim’s and Kemunto’s mobile phone numbers were used to communicate to several phone numbers traced to Somalia.

The second taxi driver, Oliver Kanyango Muthee stands accused of transporting one of the attackers. He was arrested on January 17 in Nairobi.

Investigations show that on the day of the attack, he was driving a car with the registration number KBR 243D. When asked about his wherebouts on the said day, he allegedly gave contradictory information of how he moved from his area of operation in Gigiri, also home to the UNEP headquarters, to the scene of the attack.

Sleuths also established that he was at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on the same day where he claimed to have taken ‘some of his clients’ to the airport. “There is need to interview his workmates who operate around Gigiri, verify whom he was taking to the airport on January 12, and forensically examine his motor vehicle which was at the scene of the attack, his financial records and analyse his data call records whether he has a possible operation base of the said taxi and whether he owns the car,” argued State Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu.

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Erik’s mobile phone numbers also led sleuths to Maua, Meru County. Their interest in Maua was M-pesa agent Gladys Kaari Justus.

Kaari first interacted with Erik in 2018 when he allegedly withdrew an unknown amount of money. Court records read that although he did not have an identification card, she allowed him to transact after calling his number to verify his identity. She has also been in communication with Erik this year. Investigators are now interested to know her income patterns, know her life beyond the M-pesa business and carry out further data call investigations.

Another number from a person only identified as Peter led investigators to a Canadian national Guleid Abdihakim. He was also arrested on January 17 at Suncity in Eastleigh. One of the attackers is said to have borrowed Peter’s handset to make a call to a mobile phone number whose last three digits are obscured due to investigations -0711 914.

From this 0711 914… a text message containing another number 0721 553 … was sent to another obscured number 0715 501… The contents of the messages are yet to be made public.

Investigations revealed that Guleid was using 0711 914… but the number was officially registered to one Abshira. Abshira is still at large.

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Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras also led to other person of interest one Osman Ibrahim who was arrested on January 17 at Two Rivers Mall in Kiambu County. Ibrahim reportedly met one of the attackers at Riverside Mall on January 8. “Intelligence reports so far received show that the attackers had other associates who assisted them in planning and executing the attack within the country hence there is need to interview the respondents and associates of the attackers once arrested with a view of finding out co-conspirators,” the court was told.

Constant communication

The five will be held for 30 days to allow investigators conclude their work.

At the same time, a lone man, might have been the cruciallink between the attackers and Somalia based Al Shabaab.

Hussein Muhumed from Mandera County and who will be held by police for five days is said to have been in constant communication with well-known Al-Shabaab terrorists in Kenya.

On his arrest, he was found with a Ugandan identification card. Muhumed, alongside others who are being pursued, are said to have played a role.

“The respondent was arrested due to his involvement with terrorism and related activities especially the constant attacks in the country. The nature of the respondent’s involvement in the planning of the terror attack shows that he possesses the capacity to interfere with investigations and arrest his associates,” the magistrate was told.

The six might hold the missing pieces of the puzzle.

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