Foreign recruitment surge: Al-Shabab shifts strategy

Nairobi (Caasimada Online) – The nefarious web of Al-Shabaab, the jihadist terrorist group in East Africa, is expanding its reach beyond the borders of Kenya, as indicated by recent security operations.

It appears the militant group’s recruitment strategy is now targeting foreigners, with Tanzanians and Ugandans emerging as the new demographic of choice, security officials reveal.

On the rainy evening of July 12, Tanzanian nationals Abdirahman Shaffi Mkwatili, 25, and Sadam Jafari Kitia, 30, found themselves apprehended in Garissa, a bustling town near the Kenya-Somalia border.

Their objective? To traverse the wilderness and join Al-Shabab in Somalia, armed with nothing more than a notebook containing directions in Swahili.

The duo was apprehended in the Korakora area by vigilant police forces following a well-coordinated operation.

This incident marked the third arrest of foreign recruits within a month, illuminating an unsettling shift in the recruitment dynamic.

According to officials, the trend of Kenyans journeying to Somalia to join the jihadist ranks has dwindled.

Many recruits have begun questioning the grand promises of wealth, glory, and familial security that the militant group had formerly peddled.

Tanzanians, Ugandans under the scanner

Within a fortnight of this event, three other Tanzanians—Abdul Saif Salimu, Zuberi Ngare Mtondoo, and Seif Abdalla Juma—were intercepted in a similar situation, their cover blown by watchful community members.

Security agencies have also reported the recent arrest of a Ugandan national in Libya, thanks to the collaborative efforts between security forces and local communities.

A senior security official, requesting anonymity, confirmed the development, stating, “We think they are now targeting Tanzanians, Ugandans, and others. Kenyans avoid joining them, and those who do return describe dire conditions.”

As a countermeasure, security agencies have amplified surveillance and investigative procedures leading to more swift arrests of youths attempting to join terror groups.

The public has also been cautioned to remain alert and share information on suspicious movements.

Notably, those joining these terror groups are often exploited as suicide bombers—a sobering reality with which Kenya is all too familiar, having been the victim of numerous suicide attacks.

The legal front: A battle against terrorism

In a concurrent development, the courts are playing their part in this ongoing war against terrorism.

On Friday, July 14, Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku at the Mombasa law courts virtually-delivered a ruling that Mohamed Abdi Ali, alias Abu Fidaa, and Nuseiba Mohamed Ali, both charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), had cases to answer.

Conversely, Abdirahman Idriss Hassan and Salah Mohamed Khalif were released under the provisions of Section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The accused had been in custody since their arrest in 2016, with charges ranging from directing a terrorist act to being members of a terrorist group. T

heir defense hearing has been scheduled for August 21 to 25.

The battle against terrorism continues to rage on multiple fronts, from the recruitment pools to the courts.

However, the ever-adapting strategies of these terrorist groups call for an equally flexible, vigilant response from security agencies, the judiciary, and the public.