Kenya freezes bank accounts of suspected Al-Shabaab financiers
NAIROBI, Kenya - The government of Kenya has frozen nine bank accounts belonging to individuals believed to be financiers of Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants, the interior department said on Wednesday, in one of the stringent actions geared towards the fight against terrorism in East Africa.
The decision to block the bank accounts came after "thorough" investigations by the National Intelligence Service [NIS] in collaboration with various state departments that are responsible for Homeland security, the interior department added in a statement that was signed by Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang'i.
Dr. Matiang'i, who had been directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta early this year to take stern actions against "financiers" during a security meeting that brought together Northern Frontier Districts [NFD] leaders, said the country will go for more suspects who security agents link to terrorism activities.
He directed all assets of the nine individuals to be seized and funds are frozen for supporting al-Shabaab that has wreaked havoc in East Africa leading to the deaths of thousands of people and destruction of property, for almost two decades now.
“The only way to deny terrorists the means to threaten our way of life is to choke their facilitation networks, and this is why I have published the foregoing list so that they can no longer finance Al-Shabaab’s operations within our borders,” read part of the statement.
The accused include Halima Adan Ali, Waleed Ahmed Zein, Sheikh Guyo Gorsa Boru, Mohammed Abdi Ali (Abu Fidaa), Nuseiba Mohammed Haji, Abdimajit Adan Hassan, Mohammed Ali Abdi, Muktar Ibrahim Ali, and Mire Abdullahi Elmi.
He said the action was taken in compliance with "various legal acts and the constitution" adding that "we shall move in and target other individuals being involved in these activities". This is the first time bank accounts for people suspected to be funding terrorism have been frozen in Kenya.
In February, moments after Uhuru's directive, a number of people believed to be trading in contraband goods across the Kenya-Somalia porous border were also arrested in Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa. Since then, security officers have heightened campaigns across the border in a bid to regulate the movement of goods.
The decision by Dr. Matiang'i to freeze the accounts of the nine people also comes days after a secret NIS report implicated Somalia's spy agency NISA of supporting Al-Shabaab activities through the sharing of intelligence and resources. However, the Federal Government of Somalia dismissed the claims as "baseless innuendos".
Kenya contributes troops to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia which has weakened al-Shabaab that has been fighting to overthrow the Somali government for years. There are close to 3,500 KDF troops in Somalia and are credited for liberating several towns especially in the Lower Jubba region.
Al-Shabaab has vowed to carry out terror attacks in Kenya until Kenya pulls out its soldiers from Somalia. In 2015, more than 140 university students were killed by the group marking their worst attack in Kenya, and since then, the militants have also been carrying small to large scale sporadic attacks within and outside Somalia.
In 2016, the militants attacked a KDF base in El-Adde killing dozens of soldiers, and would also raid the Kulbiyow army base a year later. Early this week, Abdinoor Mohamed, an Al-Shabaab operative, surrendered in Mandera after taking responsibility for the El-Adde army base attack that leftover 150 KDF soldiers dead.