Star footballer who ditched it all for life as Al-Shabaab agent

Africa
Terror suspect Fawaz Ahmed Hamdun in a Mombasa court on October 2. Police had asked to hold him in custody for 20 days pending investigations. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

KENYA - Between 2008 and 2012, one Fawaz Ahmed Hamdun was a household name in Mombasa football circles.

Then a pupil at Kikoani Primary School in Mombasa’s Old Town, Hamdun was a star attacking midfielder whose exploits on the soccer pitch won his team, Korea FC, many trophies.

He would later drop out of school to pursue football full time, according to former neighbors. As his fame spread, so did opportunities arise. Hamdun would suddenly go off the radar after 2012 when he moved from Old Town to Majengo estate.

RADICALISED

It is at Majengo that Hamdun, who is currently in detention at the Mombasa police station on terror-related charges, is believed to have been radicalized at the Masjid Musa and started recruiting youths for the al-Shabaab terror group under the Kufungwa Recruitment Network.

Among those Hamdun is alleged to have recently recruited and facilitated his travel to Somalia is 20-year-old Faris Hadi, who was on September 8 reported missing by his family.

Hamdun’s arrest was followed by the killings of three suspects including Salama Salim famously known as Bakari Mnyapara, Mkubwa Sadi Ramadhan and a third unidentified suspect. Police claimed the trio was planning to carry out an attack in the region.

The arrest and the killings happened three days after police reports indicated that al-Shabaab had sent seven members to launch attacks that would target key installations including the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Moi International Airport (MIA) and the Standard Gauge Railway terminus in Mombasa.

Other areas that the police internal communication dated September 28 had reported to have been targeted included hotels and beaches along the Kenyan Coast.

Salim and Ramadhan, who were killed by police in Likoni on Tuesday, had been arrested previously and charged with terror-related activities.

Information from the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) obtained by the Sunday Nation indicates that Salim was once arrested in March 2017 while on his way to Somalia alongside another terror suspect Suleiman Hemed Mwandilo.

TERRORISM TRAINING

The two were arrested in Takaba, Mandera County and arraigned before the Milimani Court in Nairobi where they were charged with traveling to Somalia for terrorist training.

They were released on an Sh400,000 bond with an alternative of Sh200,000 cash bail. The whereabouts of Mwandilo remain unknown.

Ramadhan, on the other hand, was in April 2016 arrested in Likoni, Mombasa and slapped with 12 terror-related charges at the Mombasa Law Courts.
Among the slew of charges he faced was being a member of the al-Shabaab terror group and being in possession of radical articles meant to instigate violence.

Police had then told the court that Ramadhan was a threat to national security. He was, however, released on an Sh2 million bond with a surety of the same amount after he had spent 15 days at the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison.

PLANNING ATTACK

Ramadhan and Salim were killed and a cache of weapons recovered from their hideout, a 12-room rental house they were living at Dudus in Likoni Sub-county.

Among the assorted weapons, police claimed they seized from the suspects includes a G3 rifle, a hand grenade (arges type), three kilograms of ammonium nitrate — that is used in making explosives — and hundreds of rounds of ammunition of different types.

The bullets included 217 rounds of 7.62mm, 490 rounds of 9mm, 444 rounds of 22mm, 45 special rounds of ammunition, 123 rounds of 12 mm.

Others were 68 air rifle bullets, nine machetes, nine balaclavas, assorted military holsters and porches, three assorted military and Kenya Police uniforms.

A post-mortem was conducted on Friday. The Sunday Nation saw the bodies of the two which had several bullet wounds on the heads. One of the suspects also had a ruptured skull and a broken leg.

Ramadhan and Salim were buried at Senti Kumi and Mshale cemeteries in Likoni respectively after the body examination at the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.

The third suspect is yet to be identified as his “relatives”, who were asked by mortuary attendants to produce documents to show their relations with the deceased, vanished never to return. His body is still lying at the CPGH mortuary.

RECRUITER

Meanwhile, reliable sources told Sunday Nation that Salim joined the terror group after leaving the drug business where he operated under the command of a suspected drug dealer identified as Ba Jay.

He soon graduated into an addict that saw him taken for rehabilitation after which he became a fisherman and later joined the terror group. Salim would voluntarily work at a mosque near Likoni Caltex ground where according to police reports he became a recruiter.

He became part of the Ramadan Kufungwa recruitment group. Kufungwa, a former senior leader at Masjid Musa who also joined the terror group following the influence of Ahmed Iman Ali who was the mastermind of the El Adde attack in 2015, is an associate of Dusit D2 suicide bomber Mahir Riziki.

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