Shabaab woman sought KDF recruitment — Nandi police

Woman said she had been trained in use of weapons and explosives, hostage-taking

In Summary
  • Woman, 22,  believed to have come back from Somalia to Kenya through Lamu and Mombasa in August this year.
  • She had been in Somalia for two years after allegedly being kidnapped by members of the al Shabaab terror network in Kilifi in 2019.

A woman suspected to have links with the al Shabaab terror group has been arrested and told police she applied to be recruited by the Kenya Defence Forces.

The woman, who was not identified, was arrested on Tuesday in Tinderet, Nandi county, in a police operation.

She said she had been trained in use of weapons and explosives, as well as hostage-taking, police said.

Police based at Soghor police station received a tip-off from residents about  a 22-year-old woman who was cohabiting with a man in Kamalambu village. Residents said she appeared suspicious.

She is said to have come back to Kenya from Somalia, travelling through Lamu and Mombasa in August.

DCI George Kinoti said villagers’ fears were confirmed when during interrogation, the woman told detectives she had been in Somalia for two years.

She said she had been kidnapped by members of al Shabaab in Kilifi in 2019. This could not be immediately confirmed. 

“She confessed to have been trained in weapon handling skills, hostage taking and use of explosives, among other skills,” Kinoti said.

He said the woman is said to have attended the recently concluded Kenya Defence Forces recruitment exercise at different centres.

The motive of her actions has not been established.

Anti-Terrorism Unit detectives have since taken over investigations and  will be questioning the suspect, police said.

A DCI statement said it thanks members of the public in Tinderet, Nandi county, who volunteered information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

"This kind of mutual partnership between the public and police officers is highly encouraged since a secure nation is our collective responsibility," it said.

Kenya is on high alert following reports of a possible terrorist attack.

Police operations have been heightened following terrorist threats.

The al Shabaab militants oppose the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia.

Last week, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i warned Kenyans to brace themselves for more security checks within vital facilities.

These include airports and railway stations.

The CS said despite the re-arrest of three convicts who escaped from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, the country was not out of the woods. All three were imprisoned on terror-related charges.

They are Musharaf Abdalla Akhulunga, Mohamed Ali Abikar and Joseph Juma Odhiambo.

“I need to caution the public that we are in an unusual space because of what is happening around us. Please let us be very careful and watchful,” the CS said.

Abikar was charged and convicted in 2019 for his links to al Shabaab and for abetting the Garissa University College attack of April 2015 that left 148 people dead.

Odhiambo was arrested in 2019 for trying to join the Somali terror group.

Akhulunga was arrested in 2012 over a foiled attack on Kenya’s Parliament and charged with possessing explosives, ammunition and firearms.

(Edited by V. Graham)