Banker to be detained in probe over terror links

 Zuena Nakhumicha Machabe. The 34-year-old suspect is a mother of three children and hails from Nakuru County. [File, Standard]

A court in Nairobi has allowed Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) to hold a banker in a probe of alleged terrorism links.

Kahawa Law Court magistrate Gideon Kiage gave ATPU 14 days to probe Zuena Nakhumicha Machabe in suspected terrorism facilitation and recruitment.

According to the police, the mother of three was allegedly arrested by Tanzanian authorities while on her way to Zambia.

They claim that Machabe was supposed to meet a man by the name Timothy who would host her and her three children while arranging flight to Ethiopia.

From Ethiopia, security authorities say that she was to cross to Somalia to join the Al Shabaab terror group.

“The Respondent (Machabe) was arrested on 27th July 2023 at Tunduma one-stop border located in Songwe Region in Tanzania by the Defence and security forces of Tanzania in a flamingo Lodge,” the lead investigator Joseph Mwiti told the court.

In the case, the state through prosecutor Jillo Waqo, urged the magistrate to grant police 30 days to conclude the investigation.

Jillo argued that the police needed to forensically examine two mobile phones that were allegedly taken from her at the time of the arrest.

The state says that Machabe left Nairobi for Dar es Salaam on July 21, 2023, on board an SR classic bus.

At the border, security agencies allege that she told immigration officials that she was travelling to visit her grandmother.

During the time, they further allege that she was in constant communication with Timothy through WhatsApp, Simplex, Signal, and Telegram to confirm her location throughout the journey.

At the same time, the court heard that she was received by one Juma Athumani Mohammed who was allegedly to also accompany her to Lusaka, Zambia.

The police claimed that she was a key person in Nairobi, who was allegedly facilitating youths to join Al Shabaab.

“The respondent was the contact person in Nairobi and who has been facilitating the movement of youth from Kenya and Tanzania to travel to Somalia through Moyale via Nairobi,” claimed Mwiti in the affidavit to support the application.

Mwiti continued: “The applicant and other investigators require the respondent to remain in custody, and shed light on the financier of the youth to join the Al Shabaab.”

Mwiti said that investigators needed time to contact social media companies WhatsApp, Simplex, Signal and Telegram to retrieve the communication in Machabe’s phone.

“The telephone numbers are yet to be submitted to the service provider for call data records, subscriber details and registration details, and the reports are yet to be obtained.”

On January 1, 2022, Machabe through her YouTube channel “zuena machabe” shared a one-minute and seven-second video pleading for the release of her husband Ibrahim Ramadhan.

In the video, she says that she lives in Nakuru but used to live in Nairobi’s Kayole estate and pleads for help to have her husband freed by the ATPU.

“The reason why I have come here is because, on December 2, 2021, my husband Ibrahim Ramdhan was abducted by ATPU, he had gone to do his hustle at the Kariokor market and since then we have not seen him,” she says.

She says that they reported his disappearance at the Kamukunji Police Station, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the ATPU but had not gotten the help they were looking for.

She says the reason for making the video was because she was fearing for his safety saying his family wants him home safe and sound.

Machabe adds that calls and text messages to his phone were not going through and she is sure that he was taken by ATPU.

In the meantime, in July this year, Police also arrested five terror suspects believed to be Tanzanians while headed to Somalia to join Daesh.

Sadam Jafari Kitia, 30 and Abdirahman Shaffi Mkwatili, 25 were arrested by security agents in Moyale, Marsabit County after they lost their direction to Somalia.

Their arrest came days after that of three more suspects Abdul Saif Salimu, Zuberi Ngare Mtondoo and Seif Abdalla Juma, in Garissa County after they also lost direction to Somalia.

Security agencies also arrested Ayub Omar Bwanaadi, Mohamed Omar Bwanaadi, and Kassim Ahmed Ali on April 7, 2023, in a Moyale-bound bus.

They also arrested Abdul Seif Salimu, Zuberi Ngare Mtondoo, and Seif Abdalla Juma while in transit to Northern Somalia.

Bwanaadi brothers and Kassim have already been charged with four counts of terror and murder.

They were linked to the murders of a chief, an assistant chief, and a policeman in 2019.

In the first count, Ayub, Mohammed, and Kassim were charged with committing a terrorist act.

According to the second count, it was alleged that they killed Hesborn Okwemwa, a police officer, on October 2, 2019, in Lamu.

At the same time, they were accused of killing Mbwajumwali area Senior Chief Mohamed Haji Famau, 45, and Myabogi sub-location assistant Chief Malik Athman Shee, 43, in Haji’s office on December 12, 2019.

The other count related to their travel to Somalia. It was claimed that they received training to commit a terror act.

The court heard that the suspects had been arrested on January 9, 2014, while still trying to exit Kenya for Somalia.

They again tried a second time in 2016 but their efforts were thwarted by the police. In 2016, they were en route to Uganda to join ISIS.

Ayub is 32 years while his brother is 10 years younger. Kassim on the other hand is 29 years. The trio were arrested on board a Moyale bus on April 7 this year. This is the third time that the police nabbed them.