KENYAN AL SHABAAB FIGHTERS USED AS SACRIFICIAL LAMBS, RETURNEE SAYS

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Majority of Kenyans joining the Al Shabaab are being used as sacrificial lambs, a former foreign fighter and returnee has revealed.

The fighter, who came back into the country in 2013, says this has contributed a lot to discrimination against foreign fighters within the group.

The returnee has since reformed after being taken through a rehabilitation program by the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

He revealed that Al Shabaab’s explosives unit, Istishadi, and foot soldiers component, Jabha, mostly use foreign fighters as a litmus test on their loyalty and to reduce their influence on the group.

“They use Kenyans and other regional foreign fighters as sacrificial lambs – for suicide missions or on the frontlines against the enemies,” he said on condition of anonymity.

This comes as police sources say foreign recruits planning to join Al Shabaab, and those fighting for the terrorist organisation, are now increasingly worried.

This followed an emerging trend indicating increased incidents of persecution and executions of foreign fighters.

The returnee said the mistrust between Somali and foreign fighters within the militant group is not new.

Mistrust has reportedly led to a large number of Kenyan fighters sneaking back into the country, and a few remaining ones operating, almost semi-independently, within the densely forested Lacta area that cuts across the Kenya-Somalia border.

The persecution of foreign fighters has also reduced local, regional and global support for Al-Shabaab.

Police sources indicate that in October alone, Shabaab has executed 10 foreign fighters, accusing them of spying for foreign enemies.

According to the source, Shabaab gunmen on October 10 executed five of its members, including a Somali British citizen, for allegedly collaborating with the UK’s foreign intelligence service, M16, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The five men, aged between 22 and 36 years, were killed in the Southern Somali town of Jilib.

Two days later, it is said the militants assassinated five others by firing squad in front of hundreds of residents in Sakow district.

The terror organisation claimed that the five were convicted of spying for the Somali and Kenyan intelligence services.

Awale Ahmed Mohamed, 32, who travelled from Britain to Somalia in 2013 to join the terror group, was suspected of spying for Britain’s M16.

The three other men who al Shabaab accused of spying for the United States are Abdi Aziz Abdisalam Sheik Hassan, 22, Mohamed Abdullahi Awil, 35, and 36 year old Jeylani Abdullahi Nur.

The group is said to have released a statement alleging that the three culprits helped guide drones to carry out airstrikes in Somalia against its targets.

The other accused, Abdulkadir Isaq Amin, was blamed for allegedly eavesdropping for the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).

In another case of internal wrangles with foreign fighters, two Kenyan Al-Shabaab fighters, Ahmed Yusuf Hassan and Ahmed Nur Abdi Osoble, were on April 2, 2017, killed in Buq Aqable, Hiraan region, over spying suspicions.

The two Kenyans were accused of collaborating with the Somali government and AMISOM forces.

Police say other Kenyans executed by Al Shabaab recently include former Moi University student Jared Omambia, Mombasa-born Faraj Abdulmajid, and Ramadhan Abdallah Manman – a former resident of Majengo slums in Nairobi.

According to police, the latest high profile case of foreign fighters’ mistrust was the sidelining of the once influential Kenyan Al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Iman Ali in late 2017.