Dusit bomber wanted to be a journalist but lacked money for fees

Screengrab of terror suspect Ali Salim Gichunge at the Dusit complex. [Courtesy]

When Ali Salim Gichunge cleared high school, he scored grade C and wanted to pursue journalism.

His mother Sakina Mariam, however, did not have money to take him to a journalism school so he instead got a job as a cybercafé attendant near their home in Kula Mawe, Isiolo County, and police believe this is where he got radicalised.

So good was Gichunge at his work that he got a salary raise but what many did not know is that his skills would be the very thing that Al Shabaab would exploit and lure him to the jihadi world.

In April 2015, Mariam left for a wedding ceremony in Kisumu leaving Gichunge in charge of the home.

A call for a home update left her with more questions than answers. Gichunge had left for Mombasa where he told her that he had secured a job as a construction supervisor.

Mariam says that Gichunge told her he stayed in Mombasa for a while before leaving for Lamu, where he settled for a few days before crossing over to Somalia.

Authorities say that Gichunge and Violet Wanjiru alias Kemunto two got married in Somalia in 2016. On December 31, 2018, in one of his updates, Gichunge told his mother that his beautiful wife bore him a daughter whom he named after his mother Mariam.

By this time the plan to attack the Dusit complex had been finalized owing to intelligence that had been collected by one Victor Odede Bwire while he was planning an attack on KICC. According to authorities Bwire collected and transmitted information on the security arrangement of KICC using his phone to a Facebook account Mohamed Yare Abdalla who they believe is in Somalia.

He had worked for different companies that set up exhibition stalls at the KICC, a perfect cover for his spy work.

After receiving support from Somalia, Abdalla instructed Bwire to ride a motorcycle from Nairobi to Moyale and do the same with a bus.

The aim of the trips was to collect information on the number of roadblocks and the kind of searches that police were conducting.

After his trips, police arrested two people and intercepted a vehicle in Merti, Isiolo County which turned out had been strapped with an explosive that they say was to be driven to KICC for the attack.

Guchunge sneaked back into the country in late 2018, exploiting the North Eastern region.

Revealed: Secrets of Dusit D2 terror attack

Hussein Mohammed an accused in the Dusit attack helped make and send via parcel student IDs to Mandera from Eastleigh.

Police believe they were used by two attackers to move from a refugee camp to Mucatha, where Gichunge was living at the time.

According to testimony given in court, Mohammed did all this under instructions from a Facebook account named Adam Chege, which police believe is run from Somalia.  

Mahir Khaled Riziki or Gabriel Simba the suicide bomber, travelled from El Wak, a town in the Kenya – Somalia border, to Nairobi by bus, before going to Mucatha, where he was hosted by Gichunge and Kemunto.

Police say that Riziki who was born in 1993 in Tononoka, was part of a criminal gang associated with the Sakin and Masjid Musa Mosques in Mombasa. The timelines of when he was radicalized are not known but they say that he escaped to Tanzania after joining Al Shabaab and it is not known when he travelled to Somalia. The other attacker, Osman Ibrahim Gedi, who was born in Mandera in 1992, had lived in Nairobi for some time before going to Somalia.

It is not known when he crossed into Somalia but he travelled back into the country on January 2, 2019, and registered a phone line in the name of Abdikadir Mohamud Sabdow.

He came to Nairobi on January 4, via public means and was picked by Gichunge and taken to the Mucatha safehouse. Gedi visited the Dusit complex twice in the week prior to the attack. After he was killed police recovered a fake Tanzanian driving licence, indicating he may have stayed in the country for a while.

Mayat Omar Abdi was born in 1992 in Dagahaley and was in constant communication with people in Somalia prior to the attack.

He activated a Kenya line on January 4, in preparation for the attack before travelling to Nairobi the following day.

He took the trip alongside another unknown attacker who travelled from the refugee camp to Eastleigh, Nairobi, using a private vehicle on a journey that lasted eight hours.

Abdi moved to Mucatha while the man in question hid in Eastleigh where he exchanged calls with Gedi before moving to a safehouse on January 13. Little is known about the other attacker Adan Mohamed Noor.

Four days before the attack, police say that Kemunto moved from Muchatha and travelled through Wajir and El Wak to Mandera on the evening of the same day. She remained in Mandera until January 14 and then crossed into Somalia.