News / Africa

Kenyan al-Shabab Fighters Present Problems for Families

Somalia-al-ShababSomalia-al-Shabab
x
Somalia-al-Shabab
Somalia-al-Shabab
NAIROBI - The Somali militant group al-Shabab has long relied on an extensive funding and recruitment network funneled through a community-based organization in Kenya called the Muslim Youth Center. Kenyans say there has been a devastating impact on the community resulting from hundreds of young men leaving their families to join the Islamist movement.

Thirty-one-year-old Maryam Gulam, a mother of three, saw her husband recruited to fight for al-Shabab in 2009 when she was three months pregnant.

Maryam Gulam says her husband converted to Islam in 2006 and went to an Islamic school to study his new religion. She assumes that is where her husband was taught about jihad, or holy war, instead of basic Muslim religious teachings.

Gulam says she learned her husband left for Somalia to join al-Shabab through another family.

"My husband left me when I was pregnant," she says, "and to this day I don’t know if he is alive or dead." She says she came to know that her husband went to Somalia through other families whose sons were recruited.  The other families knew about their sons’ journey to Somalia, but Ghulam says, "I was the only one that wasn’t aware. ... I am facing so many challenges because my in-laws are accusing me of taking their son away from them and [saying that] I am also the one who made him join Islam," Gulam said.

According to Gulam, her husband instructed the other families to wait for one month before telling tell her where he had gone.

"The message he left," Gulam says, "was that I should forgive him, and he loves me so much, and I should take care of the children according to the Islamic teachings, and if we won’t meet now, we will meet in heaven," Gulam said.

Gulam is not alone. Hundreds of families' sons, brothers and husbands have been recruited to fight for al-Shabab.

Another woman, 29-year-old Hidaya Said, says her son was recruited in 2010 at the age of 14.  That same year he was supposed to sit for his final primary education exam.

Said says she looked for her son for three months. She had given up when she unexpectedly came upon a letter from him.

She says: "He left the letter at home and placed it in a place where he knew one day I would find it, and that was inside the cupboard.  I read the letter, which says that he was gone and he didn’t know if they will ever meet again. I should not look for him. I should not worry about him, that he was gone and he wasn’t going to come back," Said said.

Last July, a United Nations Monitoring Group report found al-Shabab created extensive funding and recruiting networks in Nairobi through the Muslim Youth Center. For the American government, at least, the report confirmed years of anxious concern that al-Shabab has been expanding its influence in East Africa.

The Muslim Youth Center sparked a wave of much-needed development in Nairobi's Majengo slum during 2008 and 2009.  

According to Mahfoodh Awadhi, a Majengo youth leader who also is chairman of the Kenya National Muslim Advocacy Council, the center worked with the community to spur development but also was recruiting jihadists for al-Shabab and sending them to Somalia for training.

“They had a hidden agenda. They were helping the community in one way or the other but they [also] had a hidden agenda. Later on we came to learn that they were taking our youths - many youths - to fight alongside al-Shabab. We complained a lot. There was no help coming from the government,” Awadhi said.

The government stopped the center from openly recruiting for al-Shabab, but the activity has continued in secret.

Multiple sources familiar with how the recruitment is done told VOA how four youths from Majengo crossed into Somalia this month to fight for al-Shabab. Two others were arrested at the Kenyan-Somali border during the past week as they tried to enter Somalia.

For now, both Gulam and Said say they don’t have control of what will happen to their loved ones, since Kenyan military forces and Somali government fighters are preparing an offensive to take control of al-Shabab's coastal stronghold of Kismayo by August.

Before then, the women say they hope their men will find ways to return home and restart their lives.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rev:Inda from: Juba/South Sdan
June 18, 2012 5:08 AM
AL-shabab shame on you because what you are doing is against the image of God. Whom you say you are serving him.


by: david lulasa from: tambua location/gimarakwa
June 16, 2012 7:06 AM
if its true,then its not about religion,its probably money....some kenyans have also been taken advantage of by some cruise ship recruiters from middle east..the jobs were false yet people had sacrificed what they owned.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid