Mystery woman delivered arms to terrorists from Somalia

A mysterious woman identified as Mariam Abdi who played a key role in the delivery of the weapons used in the Dusit D2 terror strike has continued to be elusive as it emerged that the artillery used in the Tuesday attack made its way to the country from Somalia.

Officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) who have been on the trail of Miriam failed to find her in Eldoret, where she was thought to be after failing to nab her in Mombasa on Thursday. A separate team of officers was dispatched to Malindi to hunt her down but it was not clear whether they had made any arrests by last night.

Ms Abdi, who hails from Bondeni, Mombasa was a crucial link between the attackers and the planners whom we now understand are senior members of the Aminyaat, Al-Shabaab’s internal security and intelligence apparatus which is based in Jilib, Somalia.  

Abdi and Ali Hassan Gichunge who played key roles in the planning of Tuesday’s attack are believed to have been in Somalia between 2012 and 2016. The team of officers investigating the attack are puzzled how a large cache of weapons made its way into the country undetected and how the attackers were able to move around Nairobi with military grade artillery without detection.

Initial results of ballistic examinations on the four AK-47 guns, grenades and bullet shells recovered from the felled terroristshas shown some resemblance with weapons recovered fromprevious attacks carried out by the Al-Shabaab. The AK-47’s used at Dusit D2 in particular are Type 46-2 AK 47 rifles, manufactured in China and have become synonymous with all attacks carried out by the Al Shabaab in Kenya.

The Somali National Army also uses similar firearms which were bought from Ethiopia in 2013 following the partial lifting of the arms embargo. A significant number of these firearms have however made their way to the Al Shabaab

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Stayed in one of the rooms

But since Tuesday, the government has been unwilling to admit that the attack was carried out by Al Shabaab despite the terror group issuing a statement claiming responsibility.

It is also emerging that the terrorists or their accomplices could have been booked in one of the rooms at Dusit D2 days before the attack. Officers from the bomb squad and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) who have been combing the hotel for evidence stumbled upon a box of grenades in one of the rooms.

It is believed that the terrorists or their accomplices used the room to assemble the bombs that were used by the suicide bomber outside the hotel’s restaurant. A time stamp on CCTV footage of the suicide bomber whom we now know as Mahir Khalid Riziki shows he walked to the gardens at 3:12 pm while the rest of the attackers stormed into the hotel at about 3:30 pm.

Additionally, a waitstaff and a construction worker are seen in the video walking casually past the suicide bomber moments before he blew himself up which further cements the thought that he was there earlier than the others. The construction worker, interviewed for a separate story in this paper, says he heard an agitated Mahir asking for the whereabouts of his accomplices: “Where have you reached?"

Detectives asked the hotel’s management to issue them with a manifest of all the visitors they have had for the last two weeks. Also asked to provide CCTV footage is the management of Oil Libya petrol station in Westlands where it is said some of the terrorists had lunch before proceeding with their mission on Tuesday afternoon.

The government is yet to release the identities of the five attackers who were captured on CCTV at the Dusit D2 complex.

Yesterday, the State produced five people at the Milimani Law Courts in connection with the attack and asked that the suspects be held for 30 more days. An affidavit sworn by Inspector Monica Githaiga of ATPU in court however showed that the State still has a long way in nailing those who facilitated and financed Tuesday’s attack.

“The team of investigators have so far covered considerable ground in the investigations and upon preliminary review of the investigators file, I am satisfied that there is a probable cause to continue investigations against all suspects,” Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Hajji said yesterday in a statement.

There is also a possibility that Tuesday’s terror attack could be linked to another one that was foiled in February last year after locals in Merti, Isiolo called the police and alerted them of a car that had been hidden in a bush. While the Saturday Standard is not at liberty to discuss the merits of the case, a UN report on the matter released last month said that the five people who were supposed to carry out the foiled attack were never known.

It is however at around that time that Ali Salim Gichunge rented a house in Muchatha, Ruaka.

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Mariam AbdiDusit D2Anti-Terror Police UnitAl-ShabaabAli Hassan Gichunge