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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid