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December 19, 2018

[VIDEO] Mombasa teen missing in suspected case of forced disappearance

Missing Mombasa teenager Faraj Omar. /ERNEST CORNEL
Missing Mombasa teenager Faraj Omar. /ERNEST CORNEL

Cases of disappearances in Mombasa are on the rise again, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) has warned.

Muhuri Chairman Khelef Khalifa said on Friday that the disappearances could be the work of an elimination squad within the police force or that of a recruitment ring targeting youths for extremist groups.

The latest case is that of 17-year-old Faraj Omar, who left their home at Ganjoni estate for college on the morning of April 6 but did not return.

Police sent a circular on this case to all patrol bases and crime divisions in the area, saying Safia Mohamed of Ganjoni estate reported that her son went missing at about noon on April 8.

He was last seen carrying a grey bag, the circular says and asks police to remain alert.

On Friday, Mohamed told a press conference at Muslims for Human Rights Muhuri) offices that her son lived a solitary life.

"He had very few friends and did not love hanging around them," she said, adding he often used his laptop and phone.

"He left them behind on the day he disappeared. The phone had no power and after charging it, I found the only communication he had was with me," she said.

The laptop had a password.

Safia Mohamed whose son has gone missing, Muhuri Deputy Deputy Executive Director Rahma Gulam and Chairman Kehelf Khalifa during a press confernce at the rights group's offices, April 13, 2018. /JOHN CHESOLI

Khalifa said their IT team will check the websites Omar visited and the people he contacted.

Omar is 5.6 feet tall and a Sheikh Khalifa alumnus who scored B plain in the 2017 KCSE examination. He had enrolled for ICT courses at a local college and is to join university this year.

The boy went missing just a day after his mother returned from abroad. The family therefore could not give  details of the activities he engaged in. 

Khalifa said: "We don't want to speculate. In many cases of disappearances, members of the public have witnessed abduction but this was not the case.

"A 17-year-old cannot go missing without a trace. Where is the intelligence and why are there so many disappearances?"

Related: [VIDEO] Mombasa family fears missing son was kidnapped and killed

Also read: 16 Coast residents killed by cops or missing since 2017 - Haki Africa

Numerous researches have shown that terrorist organisations have a sophisticated social media presence. Their recruitment efforts are centred on the Internet on popular platforms such as Twitter , Facebook, and YouTube. 

Terror group al Shabaab, for instance, maintains an active Twitter page whose posts are in English.

"Since the Internet offered the connective glue that allowed disaffected Somali exiles worldwide to connect alongside militant Islamists, it became al Shabaab’s link to the outside world," a documentary by Fast Company released in 2013 states.

Mohamed asked her son to return if he left intentionally and added that he should be produced in court if police are holding him.

"And if there is any person who abducted him to fight me, I plead with you to produce him at a police station," she said.

Muhuri's Deputy Executive Director Rahma Gulam termed the case disheartening.

"The boy was the first born. Losing a your first child like that is painful," she said.

Khalifa noted that in cases of forceful disappearances, "police have produced none [of the missing people] either alive or dead."

"But in this case, we thank police for efforts taken so far," he said.

More on this: Extrajudicial killings an epidemic, Haki Africa says, details 81 cases

Also read: Haki Africa demands probe into killings of al Shabaab returnees

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