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Businessman 'captured' in Somalia over weapons supply

Sunday October 1, 2023

A Mombasa-based businessman who had been charged with supplying arms to al Shabaab terror group has been 'captured' in Somalia.

The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) of Somalia claimed Friday it apprehended a key figure over the supply of arms to al Shabaab militants.

The businessman is allegedly known for his involvement in sourcing weaponry and explosives for the insurgent factions in Somalia.

There were conflicting reports on how he ended up in the hands of Somalia authorities.

While some sources said he was arrested after jumping bail in Kenya and trying to escape through the border, others said he was deported to Mogadishu.

This is after the family claimed that he was arrested on September 5 by individuals claiming to be police officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU).

He has not been seen since.

In Somalia, NISA said the capture occurred just as he was preparing to disappear into the hideouts of these factions within Somalia.

"A 28-year-old Somali has been under surveillance by NISA for some time, and finally, NISA successfully apprehended him just as he was preparing to disappear and seek out the elusive hideouts of the Khawarij factions within Somalia," they said in a statement.

"He was the mastermind behind a network involved in the illicit procurement of a military container from abroad. NISA successfully intercepted these shipments at the port and airport of Mogadishu in May this year."

The statement added he would soon be handed over to the judiciary to be charged with his crimes.

However, Kenyan security officials said they had no comment to make.

The suspect had been charged in Shanzu court in Mombasa with illegally shipping military equipment and explosives to the al Shabaab terror group in Somalia and released on a Sh1 million bond.

He was charged with buying the military equipment on behalf of the al Shabaab and shipping them in three containers to Mogadishu.

One of the containers was recovered while the whereabouts of the other two are unknown.

The suspect was released from custody in June 2023 after spending over one month in police custody as investigators probed his role in the shipment of military equipment to Somalia.

The case before Senior Shanzu Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda has the suspect facing several charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act including belonging to a terrorist group and providing property for the commission of terrorist acts.

He was arrested in April 2023 at the Mama Ngina Water Front on suspicion that he had purchased and shipped military equipment and explosives to Somalia for the terrorist group.

In an affidavit sworn by the investigating officer, Corporal Gideon Wambua, he is accused of buying an assortment of equipment that he shipped to Mogadishu.

The shipment is said to have originated from China where he is believed to have spent his schooling years.

Three containers were shipped to Mogadishu and one of them was intercepted at the port of entry disguised as normal goods.

A closer inspection of the shipment however revealed an assortment of military equipment.

They included five high-spec drones capable of carrying 10 litres of liquid at a height of 500 metres above sea level, rifle scopes, material rolls for making military uniforms, 3000 metres of canvas for making tents, portable and foldable solar panes, military-grade walkie-talkies and camouflage suits.

The shipment also contained 18 pieces each of night vision goggles voice recording pens, spy watches, spy glasses, swimming goggles, 20 flashlights and batteries and military-grade helmets.

Investigators were probing his activities, especially in light of what they say is evidence received in April-May that he was offering logistical support to al Shabaab in Somalia.

Detectives were also investigating his phone record, M-Pesa and bank transactions as they sought to unravel the mystery of the Kenyan allegedly supporting al Shabaab and the whereabouts of the other two containers he is believed to have shipped to Somalia.

The developments were described as a breakthrough in efforts to contain the terror activities in the region at large.