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Belgian terror suspect goes scot-free for lack of evidence

Belgian terror Suspect Hassan  Kafi (right) and his Tunisian counterpart Mohamed  Debali at the Mombasa Law Courts in may last year when they were charged with  being members of Al Shabaab. (Photo: Maarufu Mohammed/Standard)

By Willis Oketch, Paul Gitau and David Ochami

Mombasa, Kenya: Kenyan judicial authorities in Mombasa terminated charges against a most-wanted terror suspect last year after proclaiming that there was “no iota of evidence” to sustain his conviction, The Standard has established.

And they have also not charged his three accomplices now in Kenyan custody despite reports that court-derived evidence has linked them to 32 terror-related charges in Europe and is readily available from Belgian authorities.

No sooner was alleged terror mastermind Hassan Kafi, who was arrested in Lamu on May 1 last year, deported to Belgium later than he was detained and 32 terrorism charges slapped on him.

Kafi was named accomplice of three terror suspects — Mustapha Bouyabaren, Ben Abdallah Ismail, Rachid Benomari — who are now detained at Shimo la Tewa Prison in Mombasa after being arrested in Malindi early this month.

The four, and a separate group of jihadists arrested last year as they tried to fly to Somalia through Turkey, tried to form a terror cell in Malindi, according to intelligence sources.

The four are named in an Interpol report dated July 5, this year, stating that they comprised a terrorist cell of North African Europeans that set off from Belgium in April 2011 through Bulgaria, Turkey and other nations to join Al Qaeda and eventually Al Shabaab in Somalia.

According to the report, the four embarked on a jihadist mission that took them to the Middle East before they entered Kenya through Tanzania.

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The Interpol report is based on court-sanctioned phone interception of Rachid’s wife which established that the suspects had joined Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab, fought in Somalia, posted messages on jihadist websites on behalf of the groups and also raised money for them, including from Kenyan territory.

Whereas Kafi was arrested in Lamu on Labour Day last year, Mustapha, Rachid and Ben Abdallah appear to have escaped the dragnet until early this month.

Instead of charging him for terrorism, even after claiming he and a Tunisian Derbali Mohamed had been arrested after entering Lamu from Somalia, Kenyan authorities only charged them with illegal entry into Kenya for which they were sentenced to six months in jail.

The Standard has not established what happened to Derbali after the jail term.

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