Nov 28, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Wild Wild East: Why Kitui lawless jungle is a safe haven for terrorists

There is reportedly a stream of illegal migrants from Somalia whose desperation sends them on dangerous journeys through the wilderness to Nairobi. Everything is allowed on this godforsaken smuggler route.

The Mwingi Game Reserve stretches across the eastern part of the country and is a dark hinterland with unforgiving terrain that makes it a perfect hideout for highway criminals.

The lack of law enforcement agencies has drawn dubious characters to this region for decades. As the official routes into the capital are made more difficult by strict immigration controls at the entry points, the bad guys have taken control of the forests where the authorities believe there are some Al-Shabaab sleeper cells.

The three terrorist convicts who escaped from the maximum security Kamiti prison said they were on their way to Boni Forest through the vast Kitui Mwingi game reserves. This means that routine police checks along the highways are no longer effective in preventing criminals from entering the capital.

Musharraf Abdalla Akhulunga aka Zarkarawi, Mohammed Ali Abikar and Joseph Juma Odhiambo aka Yusuf were in a remote village in Kitui. arrested again as they fled towards Boni Forest, which borders Somalia.

They were arrested hours after residents reported seeing them at the Malalani Market in Endau, about 100 kilometers east of the town of Kitui, Cornered by security guards where they bought milk, bottled water and cookies.

Kitui Police Commander Leah Kithei said they were arrested in the Mwingemi area while trying to get into the area Find the way to the Mwingi-Garissa Highway.

Read: How Kamiti Refugees Have Blasted Their Cover

The game reserves together cover 2,578 square kilometers and are approximately 130 kilometers long and 70 kilometers long Kilometers of wide pasture field separated.

Large, uncontrolled forest

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The vast country stretches from Ukasi a along the Mwingi – Garissa highway to the north to the Tsavo East National Park, which with a Fence near the Ikutha market on the south side is protected. It also moves east to the town of Hola in Tana River County.

In Tana River, criminals can hide along the Kora National Reserve on the Isiolo border, which leads to the south side of the Tana Delta.

Mr. Dahir Daud, an administrator in Bura subdistrict, says the vast land in the Tana River is more than 60 kilometers wide and 350 kilometers long. Between Kitui and the Tana River, there are more than 150 kilometers of wilderness that lead to Hola.

It is this huge, uncontrolled forest that makes Kitui a perfect hiding place for Al-Shabaab fighters who have devastated in Nairobi and other cities. Most of the terrorist attacks in the country have been linked to militants who entered via Kitui.

Hundreds of illegal immigrants from Somalia, some even related to Al-Shabaab, are often arrested trying to get themselves into the country via the Garissa – Thika – Nairobi motorway.

In 2013, FBI agents investigating the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi searched a house in the city of Kitui and arrested the 24-year-old Student Amina Ramadhan, who was a friend of one of the attackers. Ms. Ramadhan lived with the militant who died in the attack, which claimed 67 lives.

The following year, a suspected foreigner was arrested in South Kitui Game Reserve with various identification and travel documents, including 23 passports. and handed over to the counterterrorism police.

The man of Somali origin told detectives in Kitui that the passports belonged to people he was looking for jobs in the Middle East, but the police suspected they were for Al-Shabaab fighters were smuggled in.

In the terrorist attack on the Dusit Hotel in Nairobi in 2019, two of the militants were found with documents – including cash deposits and bond papers – issued by the police and courts in Kitui

Obvious security loopholes

Most shocking, however, was a confession by convicted terrorist Elgiva Bwire of transporting more than two dozen grenades from Somalia to Nairobi via Panya routes in Kitui, without to be discovered.

He told detectives that after returning from Somalia, where he completed militia training, he avoided major highways and hiked long distances within the Kitui game reserves.

< p > He boarded various trucks carrying charcoal through the reserves and spent several days in Mutha, Mutomo and Kitui before heading into town. .

With his luggage under charcoal sacks, Bwire bypassed roadblocks and police checkpoints from Mutomo to Nairobi.

The leaders of the Kitui accuse the authorities of their surveillance only along the Garissa-Mwingi. – Thika Highway while ignoring the obvious security gaps in the huge reservations.

Governor Charity Ngilu and MPs Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central) and Charles Nguna (Mwingi West) warn that the unpatrolled forests could be a fertile breeding ground for terrorism.

Given the little attention paid to the reservations, leaders say the National Security Council fails to assess the extent of the security situation and the direct connection to the land acknowledges terrorist threats.

“Who explains the activities of these people hiding in game reserves?” Dr. Nyamai posed and added that bombs could be quietly assembled there and transported to other parts of the country.

Serious terrorist threat

Dr. Nyamai, chairman of the parliamentary committee on land, says the huge game reserves have been degassed and converted into private nature reserves on the grounds that they no longer serve their intended purpose.

Mr Nguna says that urgent action is being taken need to protect these areas for national security because “it is no longer a small” problem for a region, but a serious terrorist threat for the nation. “

In 2019 a fact-finding mission was held by a parliamentary Game Reserve Security Committee almost ugly when lawmakers encountered a group of hostile people hiding in the woods.

Parliamentary Security and Administration Committee hurriedly left the Enyali area after more than 1000 Shepherds became violent. The team was accompanied by Kitui MPs and members of the District Security and Intelligence Committee.

The roughly 25-minute tour was full of excitement from the start, after camel herders roughly demanded what the MPs’ mission was.

At some point, as the tensions became more palpable, Dr. Nyamai told the committee chairman not to introduce her as MP for the neighboring constituency of Kitui South.

After reading the hostile sentiment, MP was concerned that her previous public demands would force the people out of the reservation at which meetings could provoke angry reactions and endanger their safety.

The leaders of the Kitui complained that the gazette of a mobile polling station in Enyali by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission during the tenure of Issack Hassan and the establishment of a primary school by the Bura Constituency Development Fund legitimized the invasion and undermined government efforts to restore peace.

The school has since closed after teachers fled the area, however the intruders have converted it into a mosque and madrassa.

Read Part 1 on How Telephones and F lash discs will solve the mystery of the Kamiti prison breakouts

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