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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

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