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Imam detained for 'recruiting terrorists'

By Joackim Bwana | June 23rd 2015

A Muslim cleric accused by police of recruiting primary school pupils into the Al Shaabab terrorist group has been detained in Mombasa for 30 days.

A magistrate's court in Mombasa allowed police to detain him to allow detectives finish their investigation.

Salim Mohammed Wambwile, who is an imam at Liwatoni Mosque in Ganjoni, is accused of recruiting seven boys from Gadini Primary School in Kaloleni into a terror group.

Chief Magistrate Julius Nang'ea directed that the accused be detained at Port Police Station in Mombasa pending investigation.

"The accused has not been charged yet but from the application by the State, the accused faces serious allegations," said Mr Nang'ea.

According to police reports, Wambwile was arrested by the Kaloleni OCS in Kilifi after a report by officials from the school on June 19.

A sworn affidavit by Corporal Philip Tuwei seeking 30 days says the nature of the investigation is wide and complex, and needs more time to complete.

"The basis of our prayers is well laid out in the affidavit and there is evidence collected so far from seven boys of Gadini Primary whose T-shirts had the words 'Radical Boys' on them," said State Prosecutor Eugene Wangila yesterday.

The prosecutor said the confiscated items included a phone that should be forwarded to the  Anti-Terrorism Police Unit in Nairobi for analysis. Wangila said the State intends to find the suspect's contacts outside Kenya, which require a lot of time before the charges can be made against him.

Madrasa teacher

According to police reports, Wambwile had gone into hiding since 2012, accused of the same offence of recruiting youths into Al Shabaab. The accused objected, saying he was innocent.

He said he was shocked by the allegations because he was just a sheikh and had nothing to do with recruiting youths.

Wambwile said the court should summon Sheikh Hassan Omar of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya to respond to the allegations because he was the one who had appointed him as the mosque's imam.

"I am just a teacher of madrasa at the mosque and I would like all the students and parents to come to court and have a say in the case before we proceed," he said. "I was told by the police the investigation was 100 per cent complete and therefore I should be held for only 48 hours before being charged."

However, Wangila said the prevention of a terrorism act allows a terror suspect to be detained for over 90 days.

He said the suspect had been arrested on a Friday and was taken to court at the earliest opportunity. "We are being lenient by giving 30 days," said Wangila.

The case will be mentioned on August 22.

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