Lamu, KENYA: Security agencies in Lamu have expressed concern that al-Shabaab returnees in the county are secretly regrouping, recruiting and training youth to join the militia group.
The agencies believe the new recruits are responsible for the recent attacks in remote parts of the county.
Speaking in Lamu on Monday, the Boni Enclave Campaign director Joseph Kanyiri said al-Shabaab returnees are posing a great challenge towards the complete neutralization of the Al-Qaeda linked group.
Kanyiri said he was aware that a good number of returnees, both men and women had secretly come back into the county without notifying the authorities.
He said all genuine returnees who are willing to reform must, first of all, notify the security office immediately the return and state their intentions.
Kanyiri said the recent terror attacks in Bodhei, Ijara and other areas bordering the Boni forest which is an official operation zone are clear proof that the perpetrators are under the guidance of local networks and most inevitably, Alshabaab returnees.
“They come back quietly, then meet up and form some sort of cell after which they start recruiting and training local youth who are then used to launch attacks.We are giving them the chance to surrender or we move in because we know exactly who they are,” said Kanyiri.
He said his office had received more than enough Intel indicating that some of those posing as returnees are in fact still working for the militia group and have been going around recruiting and training youths to join the terror group.
Kanyiri has also asked families of all returnees to surrender them to the authorities for amnesty and subsequent rehabilitation so that they become fully integrated back into the society.
He warned that it was a crime for any given person to withhold information concerning such persons or even hide them and added that such an action was an offense punishable by law since they will be helping a criminal abate the law.
“I am aware that some of them came back because they couldn’t face the AMISOM troops there. Some because they discovered the promises made by the militia group were just but a hoax and many more reasons. To the locals and parents of the returnees. They should desist from hiding them. They should cooperate with security agencies to ensure the returnees are helped to resume their normal lives instead of waiting till the security agencies flush them out,” said Kanyiri.
Kanyiri warned that returnees who will not present themselves voluntarily to the security agencies will be hunted down and treated like terrorists.
He said the amnesty period announced by the national government was still open and urged the returnees to surrender and register themselves at the various government offices so that rehabilitation measures and procedures can be initiated.
“We have been witnessing attacks in Bodhei area in recent days. On Saturday, five people were injured by the terrorists. A month ago, a motorist was attacked in the same place plus many other attacks that we can’t disclose. That means those attackers are within.Al-Shabaab returnees must surrender to the authorities. Those are the ones hindering the success of the operation. If they won’t do so, then there will be no other option than to hunt them down and deal with them like we would terrorists,” said Kanyiri.
He also went a warning to all Alshabaab sympathizers within the Boni Enclave Campaign areas in Lamu, Tana River, and Garissa and said that if caught they will be treated just like terrorists since their share a mindset with the militants.
“We are aware of the fact that some locals are working with the Alshabaab.They give them information on our movements, they feed them and even house them in their homes.Why on earth would someone allow such a person to even sleep in your house unless of course you share common beliefs and that’s why such people shall be treated just like the Alshabaab themselves,” said Kanyiri.
Kanyiri also said the lack of total cooperation and discretion from residents in and close to the operation zones was dragging the war on Alshabaab.