News / Africa

Assassinations of Muslim Clerics in Kenya ‘Boosting al Shabaab’

Muslim cleric Abubakar Shariff (L) smiles as he speaks to Reuters correspondent Drazen Jorgic before an interview on the killing of Sheikh Ibrahim Omar in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa October 5, 2013.Muslim cleric Abubakar Shariff (L) smiles as he speaks to Reuters correspondent Drazen Jorgic before an interview on the killing of Sheikh Ibrahim Omar in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa October 5, 2013.
x
Muslim cleric Abubakar Shariff (L) smiles as he speaks to Reuters correspondent Drazen Jorgic before an interview on the killing of Sheikh Ibrahim Omar in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa October 5, 2013.
Muslim cleric Abubakar Shariff (L) smiles as he speaks to Reuters correspondent Drazen Jorgic before an interview on the killing of Sheikh Ibrahim Omar in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa October 5, 2013.
Reuters
The killings of popular Muslim clerics in Kenya's port city of Mombasa is strengthening support for Somali militants who massacred at least 67 people in a Nairobi shopping mall two weeks ago, a prominent Islamist said on Saturday.
 
The apparent assassination of Sheikh Ibrahim Omar on Thursday night raised religious tensions in Kenya's commercial and tourism hub.
 
Young Muslims, streaming out of a mosque where Omar had preached, torched a church, burned tires and fought the police on Friday. Four people were killed during the day-long riots.
 
Abubakar Shariff, whom the U.N. and the U.S. accuse of funding al Shabaab, said Omar's killing would boost recruitment and support for the Somali group among Kenyan Muslims convinced the cleric was gunned down by Kenyan security agencies.
 
“After this attack I think more youth will be willing to go over [to fight in Somalia],” the Kenyan Islamist told Reuters at his home in Mombasa, a city in which several prominent Muslim preachers have been killed over the past 18 months.
 
“(The extrajudicial killings) make Muslims realize or sympathize with Al Shabaab because they see a Christian government killing Muslims and they sympathize with them,” added Shariff, whose assets have been frozen by western powers.
 
The Kenyan police have repeatedly denied killing Omar.
 
“The city is calm,” said Robert Kitur, Mombasa County Police Commander, on Saturday as businesses re-opened and cars returned to Mombasa's palm-lined streets.
 
The U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia has called Shariff a “leading facilitator and recruiter of young Kenyan Muslims for violent militant activity in Somalia” and imposed financial sanctions on him. He denies funding or recruiting for al Shabaab.
 
One of the Westgate mall attackers was a Kenyan of Arab origin, who was born in Mombasa and travelled to Somalia with his uncle at the age of 16, a Kenya Defense Force spokesman said on Saturday.
 
A group of Kenyan Muslim leaders on Friday condemned the Mombasa riots and said the police should properly investigate the “extrajudicial” killing of Omar and three other people who were in a car with him.
 
“Coming in the wake of the deplorable Westgate (mall) attack, the killings point to a worrying and deteriorating security situation in the country which needs to be addressed urgently,” the leaders said in a statement.
 
Drive-by Shooting
 
The drive-by shooting of Omar was strikingly similar to that of Sheikh Aboud Rogo, a firebrand cleric who had been Omar's mentor, last year.
 
Both men were popular with youths along Kenya's Indian Ocean coastline where many Muslims feel marginalized by the mainly Christian government. They both died on the same stretch of road outside Mombasa, their cars sprayed with bullets.
 
Shariff said Omar's killing was linked to the deadly raid on Westgate mall, the worst militant strike on Kenyan soil since al Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998. Al Shabaab have formal links with al Qaeda.
 
Shariff said Kenyan authorities had been planning to link Omar to the Westgate raid by planting evidence in his car, but this was thwarted by the quick arrival of witnesses on the scene.
 
The police deny attempting to plant evidence and say Omar's death is being treated as a regular criminal investigation.
 
Shariff said he believed the Westgate attack was “justified” under Islamic teachings as Kenyan forces were doing the same to civilians in Somalia. The killings of Muslim clerics had made Kenyan security agencies complacent, he added.
 
“It happen because Kenyan Anti-Terror Police Unit or the Kenyan intelligence started eliminating potential targets ... thinking they removed every threat to the security of Kenya,” Shariff said. “Westgate happen because they relaxed.”

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitcheni
X
September 22, 2014 11:42 AM
With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid