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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs