New details are emerging about the arrest in Kenya of three Dutch
nationals and a Moroccan with Dutch residence status Monday near the
Somali border. The men are accused of trying to aid Somalia's
al-Qaida-linked extremist group, al-Shabab.
Kenyan police say
four 21-year-old men, three born in Morocco and the fourth in Somalia,
were detained by authorities in the coastal town of Lamu, as they tried
to reach the Kiunga area, about 15 kilometers from the border with
The men identified themselves as Dutch tourists. But
police said there were no tourist sites where the men were found and
they did not have tourist visas in their passports.
learned the police also confiscated several items from the suspects,
including two close-circuit television cameras, several digital and
professional cameras, and two computer laptops. Police investigators
are said to have also retrieved several e-mail messages, believed to
have been sent by the suspects to an al-Shabab contact in Somalia.
police say the men were arrested on suspicion that they were making
their way to a terrorist training camp in Somalia run by al-Shabab.
The suspects were transferred to the anti-terrorism office in Nairobi
after being held for questioning in the port city of Mombasa.
government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, declined to confirm the details of
the arrests, saying he could not comment on anti-terrorism operations.
can confirm that several people have been picked up. There is an
operation that is going on. Therefore, we cannot comment on it without
jeopardizing the operation. Some of these operations we are carrying
out send a clear message that we are not going to allow our country to
be used as a launching pad for terror activities or to suffer from
terrorism," said Mutua.
Kenya is a close ally of the West in the
region, which suffered al-Qaida-related suicide attacks in 1998 and
2002. In recent years, the United States, Britain, and other countries
have provided training, equipment and financial assistance to Kenya to
help the country establish a strong counter-terrorism capability.
Kenya shares a long, porous border with Somalia and is home to a large
Somali-speaking community. Both are difficult to monitor effectively
and western intelligence officials have long worried that extremists
and al-Qaida operatives in Somalia could use Kenya to launch another
The threat of terrorism in Kenya has been escalating
since 2007, when al-Shabab, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist
organizations, reorganized and began fighting to overthrow Somalia's
U.N.-backed government in Mogadishu.
Somali and Western
government officials say al-Shabab fighters, who are committed to
creating an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate in Somalia, are being
backed by hundreds of foreigners who have poured into the country since
early this year to take part in what they consider a holy war against