Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Man jailed for 20 years over links with Shabaab

A court in Isiolo has jailed a man for 20 years for being an al-Shabaab member.

Mr Ramadhan Wario Bonaya was found guilty of being a member of the group. He was also found guilty of possessing and collecting terrorism related information five years ago.

The accused was arrested at a video shop in Tuluroba on June 2, 2017 in possession of a mobile phone with terror related videos that investigators argued could have been used to radicalise, train and encourage others to join al-Shabaab.

Officers at the Isiolo Anti-Terror Police Unit had intelligence reports that a number of youths from Tuluroba including Mr Wario, Dido Mohamed Jillo and Hussein Adan Hussein had gone missing and were all suspected to have joined the terror group.

Detective Victor Museuwa told court during the hearing of the case that the accused person facilitated Mr Mohamed and Mr Adan to travel to Somalia and that he handed them over to an Al-Shabaab agent in Wajir.

Mr Wario, investigators submitted in court, allegedly used a phone to communicate to a person who directed the two on the route they would take while on the way to Somalia to join the outlawed sect.

One of the videos produced in court titled ISIS NEW had an introduction of “chinja chinja makafiri na msikate tamaa ndugu zangu” loosely translated to “Kill the enemies and do not give up”.

Court documents indicated that the video was reportedly released after the June 2014 Lamu’s Mpeketoni attack by the Somalia based militant group where more than 60 people were killed and which the group claimed responsibility.

The video that police said was recorded in Mpeketoni tried to radicalise the local Muslims against non-Muslims and encouraged others to join the sect.

A second video titled Mujahideen (meaning those involved in Jihad fights) was 25 minutes long and was done in Swahili with actors being Kenyan youths from Mombasa, Garissa, Malindi and Nairobi who encouraged their members in Kenya to join them in Somalia for Jihad fight.

“The accused is either an active member (of Al-Shabaab), sympathizer or has interest in the outlawed group,” one of the investigators earlier told the court.

In his defence, the accused said the memory card that had the incriminating materials was not his, adding that he has never been to Somalia and did not know the other two persons that the prosecution team accused him of recruiting to the militant group.

His mother Kambale Kampare told the court that the son was ‘very’ disciplined and that she had never suspected him of being a member of the militant group.

“He was always at home and has never been to Somalia because if he did, I would have known,” the defense witness said in court while also denying knowing Mr Mohamed and Mr Adan.

The accused who said he completed secondary school in 2015 pleaded with the court for a non-custodial sentence saying he was remorseful.

Properly charged

Isiolo Chief Magistrate Lucy Mutai found that the accused was properly charged for the offence of being in possession of terror-related materials as the videos he was in possession of, encouraged followers and sympathisers of the group to harden themselves in fight against Kenya.

“Any message encouraging a terror group to fight Kenya is intended for terrorism,” she said while delivering the judgment.

The accused, the court said, did not deny that the memory card was retrieved from his phone despite maintaining that it was not his thereby failing to dislodge the prosecution’s evidence.

Wario was found responsible for collection of terror related materials, some of which he received via WhatsApp and others stored in the memory card and therefore “could not claim any innocence”.

He was however acquitted of the fourth offence of supporting terror groups through alleged recruitment of the two missing men with court saying the prosecution failed, to call crucial witnesses to shed light on whether he was linked to the pair’s disappearance.

Magistrate Mutai said all the three defence witnesses including the accused’ mother stated they did not know the two men, casting doubts on the prosecution case that they were Wario’s friends.

She said due to the nature of the other offences, a deterrent sentence was necessary.

“The court has a duty to ensure there is law and order and the only way to do so is by making sure persons like the accused are, for a reasonable period of time, separated from those who advocate for peace and not bloodshed,” the Magistrate noted.

Wario alias Ibra was consequently jailed for 20 years, 15 years and 20 years for being a member of Al-Shabaab, possession of and collection of terror related materials respectively with the jail terms running concurrently.

The sentence comes after another person was in September jailed for 30 years after he was found guilty of 11 terror related charges including being a member of a terrorist group.

Mr Osman Galle had gone to visit a friend, one Osman Chule, who had been detained over terror related offence at Isiolo Police Station on March 28, 2017 when ATPU officers pounced on him and his phone found with extremist videos.

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