By Willis Oketch
Mombasa, Kenya: It is not clear exactly when slain radical islamist Sheikh Abubakar Sharif alias Makaburi was radicalised or when he joined the jihadists.
However, independent accounts suggest that he became a militant during his stint in Yemen, before returning to Kenya in the 90s when radical islam was undergoing revival across the world.
He appears to have converted to the ideas of Muslim Brotherhood founders Said Qutb and Hassan al Banna during his stay in the Middle East, where he claims to have worked and joined the military. Most accounts indicate that Makaburi became friends with the late Sheikh Aboud Rogo whom Makaburi made an imam and preacher of Masjid Musa upon his (Rogo’s) release from jail after the failed trial over the 2002 terrorist attack on Israel properties.
Then, Makaburi was the custodian of Masjid Musa, which he renamed Masjid Shuhadaa last month, and reports show that before their acquittal over the 2002 terror attack, Makaburi had grown close to Rogo and former councillor Mohamed Kubwa.
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Other accounts indicate that before meeting Rogo and Kubwa, he came under the influence of slain Al-Qaeda militant Fazul Abdalla at Masjid Musa where the latter attended prayers with Makaburi.
Makaburi came to the limelight as a Muslim radical between 2003 and 2007 during the rise of Al-Shabaab in Somalia, when the terror group banned watching of football and TV in that country.
Al-Shabaab also declared a war against graves and graveyards of alleged Sufi saints and alleged heretics.
Makaburi, who openly declared his support for Al-Shabaab’s actions, also declared war against old graves in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu, claiming that some people were worshipping such graves, which is against Islam.
The militant preacher spearheaded the destruction of graves at Jundan near Konzi mosque and others in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. He fought against the burial of mosque founders in these mosques forcing their reburial in open Muslim cemeteries.
After declaring himself a jihadist, his admirers nicknamed him Makaburi (graves), which became his household name among his friends and enemies.
Makaburi was a staunch supporter of Islamic states and even said he was planning to change his citizenship and relocate to one of them.
He disliked security agents, saying they were to blame for the fleeing of his wife.
“I am living alone because of frequent (police) raids in my house over claims I have guns, drugs and explosives in a bunker. Where is this bunker?” he posed two weeks ago.
Many analysts believe Rogo’s death left him deeply wounded and exposed to extreme behaviour and recklessness but he was still in charge of clerics like Sheikh Ibrahim Amur who was killed in October last year.