Police in Malindi seek to detain trader over terror links

The trader is also suspected of human trafficking, and soliciting support for the commission of a terrorist act. [iStockphoto]

Police in Malindi have asked a court to allow them to detain a businessman for 14 days to complete investigations into claims he is involved in terrorism.

The Anti-Terrorist Police Unit (ATPU) officials told Malindi Resident Magistrate Olga Onalo that they believe prominent Ngomeni businessman and philanthropist, Omar Msham Ismael, is bankrolling terrorism activities.

They said there is a possibility that Ishmael, who was arrested at his Ngomeni home on Friday night, has links with the al-Shabaab terror group based in lawless Somalia.

The sleuths suspect Ishmael is a member of the terrorist group. The trader is also suspected of human trafficking, and soliciting support for the commission of a terrorist act.

Ishmael is also being investigated for facilitating the recruitment of new members to a terrorist group and operating a Non-Governmental Organization without registration and a certificate contrary to the NGO Coordination Act, 1990.

Chief Inspector Nicholas Waringa, from ATPU, told Ms Onalo that if released, the suspect might interfere with investigations because of his influence in the region.

However, the suspect's lawyer Abubakar Yusuf opposed Waringa's application and challenged him to state the charges he will prefer against his client before seeking to detain him.

"For an application like this to succeed, there must be a holding charge and none has been brought to this court. It is clear the police want to use the Terrorism Prevention Act 2012 to deny my client his rights," he told the court.

Ishmael told the court that he had volunteered to assist the police with investigations.

"When they were interrogating me, I told them that I help the community by educating children and feeding them and they asked where I get the money from," he said, adding; "Some people are not happy with my philanthropic activities and are out to use the police to fight me."

Ms Onalo will rule on the matter on Friday, October 21.

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