News / Africa

Anti-Terror Operations Stoke Religious Tension in Kenya

Roopa Gogineni
In Kenya’s second largest city,  Mombasa, a string of alleged extrajudicial killings and disappearances of suspected terrorists has raised tensions between the police and the Muslim community. The latest alleged target was Omar Faraj, a 40-year-old cashier, who was shot dead at home by police.

At the butcher shop where Omar Faraj worked as a cashier, the till is unmanned. In late October, Kenyan police killed Faraj, accusing him of planning a terrorist attack.

"Many customers have not come back… the customers who do come are very upset. They come here and they cry," said Butcher Joseph Kawemba, who worked with Faraj since 2008.

Early on a Sunday morning, anti-terror police surrounded Faraj’s apartment, firing at the building and lobbing canisters of tear gas inside. After the raid, neighbors found Faraj’s dead body on top of his wife Rahma, who had passed out.

Police said they recovered grenades and ammunition from the apartment.

At the Memon Villa mosque where Faraj often led prayers, a friend who declined to be on camera, believes the police made a mistake.

"They claimed he was found with grenades, and yet we know he doesn't even own a knife to slaughter a chicken. He wouldn't even know where to buy a grenade. These things, they surprise us. Even now," said the friend.

Kenya receives U.S. funding and intelligence support for its anti-terror efforts.  In October, it passed new anti-terrorism legislation, giving authorities more leeway to root out suspected terror cells.

"Whenever we come across anybody who may be associating with al-Shabab or any other militia groups like al-Qaida or other terrorist groups, then we are able to deal with this particular person quite rightly to distort their operations and disorientate them completely so that they do not create any kind of crimes within the region," said Aggrey Adoli, the Coast province police chief.

In August, rioters set fire to cars after Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo, with alleged ties to al-Shabab, was shot dead.

Though the police deny responsibility, human rights groups believe Rogo’s was one of several extrajudicial killings and abductions carried out by Kenyan security forces.

Mombasa-based Muslims for Human Rights, or MUHURI, is now investigating Faraj’s death.

"The responsibility to investigate, it is the police, it is not a human rights organization or anyone else. They are mandated by law. Going to a place at 2 o'clock and terrorizing the whole neighborhood, it is not fair, really," explains MUHURI's director, Khelef Khalifa.

Khalifa claims the passing of the anti-terror bill has allowed the police, whom he says have a long history of committing extrajudicial killings, to act with impunity.

"Now we ask ourselves, why did they go and shoot somebody if that person was not hiding? They could have easily gone to his place of work and arrested him," he said.

In this city, many now live in fear of the police.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More