Kisumu chiefs storm mosque over suspected radicalised

Some of the children found at the mosque. The county children department ordered that they report to school on Monday. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]
Two Chiefs in Kisumu rushed to a mosque in the lakeside town and held eight children for questioning over suspected radicalisation teachings.

The provincial administrators wondered why the children aged, between 11, 12, 13 and 14 years were holed up at the Mosque when they are supposed to be in school.

The Friday 11 am raid led by Kisumu Central Chief Willis Onyoni and his Kaloleni assistant Mr Moses Otieno, took those at the Mosque by surprise.

The Chiefs went to the Mosque near Muslims Secondary School and found the children undergoing Islamic teachings. But they didn't arrest any of them.

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Instead, they urgently called for a meeting with the madrassa teachers and the Mosque administrators to establish why they were holding the school-aged children.

According to the Chiefs, the government had rolled out free basic and compulsory education, where none of the school-aged children had an excuse to miss school.

He said they were responding to the government's directive that Chiefs and their assistant be on the look-out for  attempts to radicalize  Kenyan children, given the danger terrorists were posing to Kenyans.  

''We went to the mosque after getting a tip. We can’t take any chances. We are not judging them but doing our investigations," said Chief Onyoni.

Onyoni said he rushed to the mosque to make his own findings before calling the police.

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“They are not under arrest. We are still talking to them to find out why the children are not going to school," said the Chief.

But some of the teachers found with the children, dismissed claims they could be involved in clandestine activities.

''They are just being inducted into Islam ritual religiosity at their tender age. It has nothing to do with any extreme act or criminal behavior,'' said Mohamed Ibrahim.

Another teacher, Mohammad Shukri said they had not done anything wrong to warrant the raid and question.

''We are just doing the routine prayers and teachings as is enunciated in our Muslims tradition, ‘he explained. 

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Children department

Later in the afternoon, officers from the County Children department visited the mosque ordered that the children start going to school from next Monday.

The teachers said it was mandatory that Muslim children go through madrasa teachings for at least two years before starting formal education.

Kisumu County Commissioner, Pauline Dola, said she had been briefed and more investigations were going on.

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KisumuRadicalisationMosque raid