Kenya’s tourism minister is rejecting as a conspiracy a United Nations report that accuses him and other prominent Kenyans of funding activities of the Somali insurgent group al-Shabab.
Najib Balala condemned the Islamic militants as a detriment to the wellbeing of the people of Somalia and Kenya.
“I do not have any links with al-Shabab, I have not financed al-Shabab and I have condemned al-Shabab in all manner,” he said. “I don’t believe in the Islamic movement. It is power-hungry [and] has no right to interfere in the politics of Somalia.”
Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda, al-Shabab is preventing some international humanitarian groups from providing relief aid to people under areas it controls.
Kenya’s Nation newspaper quoted the UN report as accusing minister Balala of supporting the construction of a mosque in 2009 with a donation of 200,000 Kenya shillings ($2,199.74). The UN says the funds were wired to an account operated by the group.
The report also accused him of donating 500, 000 Kenyan shillings ($5,494.70) to an account operated by a leading al-Shabab financier on February 17 this year.
Balala said he is consulting his attorneys to challenge the UN report.
“First of all, why is this report putting me on defense? Secondly, my political career in this country is well known and very transparent on what I stand for: I stand for peace,” said Balala. “Today, all of a sudden with no evidence whatsoever, I am linked to al-Shabab. It is not fair; It is not acceptable.”
The report stated it has no evidence the minister was aware that his donation would be used to finance the terror group’s activities.
“If they have confirmed that I am not aware, why did they use my name to link me to al-Shabab?” asked Balala. “This is intimidation. Already they have successfully intimidated the Arab world or the Muslim world from donating to African Islamic projects.”
Balala maintains the money he gave was “exclusively” used for the building of a mosque in Somalia.
“The UN and the international community know if the al-Shabab have a bank account and who is financing them,” said Balala. “What supports al-Shabab is the piracy, illegal multibillion dollar trade…which affects the Kenyan economy, affects peace and stability in the region and affects the cost of living.”
Balala also said it was inappropriate for the UN to name him as a financial supporter of the terrorist group.