By Dominic Wabala
The Star (Nairobi)
Sept 18. 2012
The two suicide bombers arrested on Thursday night by Special Crime Prevention Unit and Anti Terrorism Police Unit are part of a larger Al Shabaab sponsored terror gang targeting to blow up Parliament and assassinate a high profile Kenyan politician. The suspects found with a cache of bombs and an assortment of weapons have confessed that one of their targets was parliament.
"They wanted to find their way into Parliament and blow themselves while others targeted a senior politician," said an investigator privy to the probe. Police on Friday morning seized a cache of explosive-laden vests, grenades and automatic rifles in a midnight raid in a an apartment in Eastleigh, Nairobi.
Kenya has been on a heightened state of security since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia to crush al Qaeda-linked insurgents who carried out a double suicide bombing in Uganda in July 2010. Police displayed the six suicide bomber vests, 12 grenades and four AK-47s with more than a dozen loaded magazines.They also seized mobile phones that were to trigger the bombs.
Police said the successful seizure of the weapons was a result of intensive intelligence gathering that also resulted in the arrest of four foreigners with links to the Al Shabaab. It emerged yesterday that the two suspects reached Nairobi on August 10 from Garissa by bus. They bribed their way at the Garissa bridge which is normally manned by police officers who check every passenger and luggage before letting buses and private cars proceed to Nairobi.
They walked on foot after getting off the bus Eastleigh to their hideout. One of the two is a Kenyan whose mother lives in Nairobi and is described by detectives as well versed with the geography of Nairobi and Mombasa. His accomplice, who is of Somali origin, had already acquired a Kenya identity card.
As part of their vile plan, they bought an old maroon Peugeot saloon car for Sh180,000. The car was sold to them by a dealer near the Holy Family Basillica. They did not ask for a logbook. Their leader had informed that Thursday was the day for the evil mission. But their vehicle broke down when loaded with the explosives and they were advised to abort the mission.
They were intent on carrying out bombings similar to the August 1998 bombings in Nairobi that brought down the US Embassy off Moi Avenue. Only this time they would carry out similar bombings in Kampala, Nairobi and Mombasa. In Mombasa they were to explode their bombs at Pirates Club. Investigators said yesterday the bombs had been put together by an expert.
One of the two bombers had been hit by a mortar while in Somalia in the past and was later brought to Nairobi and treated at three top Nairobi hospitals including the KNH. His right hand is partially paralyzed. The operations in Nairobi was complicated and the marks stretch from his shoulder to the elbow.
After recovering he went back to Somalia. Detectives will interview the doctors who treated him in Nairobi. The Kenyan youth was brainwashed by his recruiters and convinced that the United States was bent on destroying Muslims and that he needed to join a special group of Muslims who would defend the faith.
Because of the onslaught by Kenya Defence Forces in Operation Linda Mpaka that turned into Operation Linda Nchi and later culiminated into KDF joining AMISOM, the Al Qaeda linked insurgents have been dislodged from most of their strategic defensive positions. The group now believes that striking Parliament or assassinating a high profile Kenyan politician will help slow down AMISON specifically Kenya Defense forces who have made so much gains as they seek to take over Al-Shababa stronghold of Kismayu.
" Al Shabaab have been defeated in Somalia and have now resolved to bring the war back to Kenya. Their people are planning a major attack in Kenya in the next few weeks. We have obtained information from some of them arrested while crossing into Kenya that they are planning to detonate explosives in Parliament or assassinate a high profile politician and cause upheaval in the country.This people are not good. We are lucky to have arrested the suspects. Things would be different now," a senior intelligence official privy to the arrests a weeks ago said.
Parliament has since stepped up its security and legislators are now only allowed two visitors at a time. Several senior politicians have also had their security improved and have acquired armored vehicles. The suspects who were arrested last Friday, Abdul Majid Yassin, 26 and 24-year-old Suleiman Abdi will appear in court while police and intelligence operatives hunt down eight other suspects on the run.
The suspects have been interrogated and will appear in court today. The suspects were arrested in a room within an apartment with in which they found food, clothes, jerricans and three mattresses with no furniture. Some of the bombs recovered were mounted on the suicide vests with connections to mobile phone batteries.
Police said the connections to mobile phones, which were also recovered, showed that the attackers would have ignited the explosions from far in case the suicide bombers failed to detonate them. Al Shabaab have threatened to detonate bombs and grenades in Nairobi and other major towns since last October when the Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia in pursuit Al-Shabaab militia group who had repeatedly kidnapped tourist and foreign aid workers from Kenya.