Kenya coast separatist leader arrested, charged again

The leader of an outlawed secessionist group on Kenya’s coast was Tuesday charged with holding an illegal meeting that police said was aimed at organising attacks in the troubled region.

Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) chairman Omar Mwamnuadzi was arrested on Monday evening and appeared in court on Tuesday, a week after being released on bail following a previous arrest in October.

He appeared in court along with six other supporters, who were also arrested in Kwale, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the main port city of Mombasa.

Mwamnuadzi was also charged with possession of cannabis, officials said, but was freed on bail of 500,000 shillings ($5,500).

The banned MRC insists it is a political movement campaigning for the independence of Kenya’s Muslim-majority Indian Ocean coast.

It has repeatedly denied any involvement in a string of attacks blamed on Islamist gunmen in the region, once one of Kenya’s most popular tourist destinations.

The government has blamed the MRC of involvement in a series of attacks in the Lamu region in June and July, in which scores were killed.

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in retaliation for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia.

MRC members charged with killing an officer and raiding a police camp

Fifty three suspected members of MRC group appeared in court in Mombasa on Monday, charged with raiding a police camp, hacking to death the officer in charge and stealing two rifles.

The suspects, brought under armed police escort to Mombasa from Kilifi, 40 kms away, denied six charges including murder and robbery with violence.

Police say more than 20 machete-wielding men attacked the camp on December 11 and blame the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC).

The outlawed group wants independence for Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastal regions, citing decades of neglect by the Nairobi government. The MRC has denied any involvement.

Prosecutors told the court that the defendants were members of the MRC and were also planning attacks over the Christmas holiday season.

They denied all charges and were detained until Dec. 29, when the court will rule on their application for bail.

This year, Kenya’s coastal strip has borne the brunt of frequent gun and grenade attacks, mostly blamed on Islamist militants from neighbouring Somalia, and the country has suffered a consequent slump in its vital tourism sector.

– The Star

MRC responsible for coastal attack

The government has linked the Outlawed MRC to the attack at Administration Police base where a Police officer was killed and two of his colleagues seriously injured in Kaloleni .

Kilifi county commission Albert Kobia said Militants raided the station on Thursday night killing a police constable who was in charge of the Kaloleni police station.

“Militia attacked Kimarani Administration police camp in Mwamwinga area of Kaloleni, killing the corporal in charge and injuring two others officers critically,” Kobia said.

He said that the attackers were in possession of Machetes and welding weapons that were meant for kill.

“The attackers were able to make way with two G3 rifle loaded with 19 rounds of ammunition that were kept in the station. Taking advantage of the heavy downpour in the region,” he said.

“We think the Mombasa Republican Council are responsible for the actions,” he said.

Residents residing nearby the police post escaped from their homes in fear and spent the night in bushes after hearing gunshots but could not establish whether the shots were made by the officers or the attackers.

The MRC is a separate group that wants the coast to govern itself, citing decades of neglect by the government in Kenya.

The secretary of the separate group Randi Nzai, has refuted the claim that it was them who are responsible for the attacks at the coastal region in the country.

“I am not aware of the attacks that have taken place today and as usual the government is using us, as a scapegoat once again,” he said.

This comes after the same incident happened last month, when armed men suspected to be Militants attacked Nyali barracks in Mombasa, hacking a soldier to death.

The suspects are believed to have been recruited, trained and ferried to raid and seize weapons.

The same gang last month had also attempted to over run an AP camp in Malindi, but were overpowered before they destroyed human life.

– The Star

Recruitment to al-shabab and MRC in Kenya

The reasons why young Kenyans join the Somali militant group Al Shabab are not the same as those they give for joining secessionist group MRC.

According to the authoritative Institute for Security Studies(ISS) led by Dr Anneli Botha very little research has been done to determine how and why individuals join al-shabab and MRC.

The Institute did an academic research in conjunction with Kenyan Muslim Alliance where they interviewed with 95 people associated with Al Shabab, 45 associated with MRC, and relatives of people associated with the organisation.

The research shows that there are very clear differences as to why people join the two groups. Al-Shabab pushes an Islamic agenda with MRC seeking secession hence the two differ despite being heaped in one.

Which means that people join MRC because of ethnic and economic factors while in Al-Shabab the core is radical Islam. The two however have a common enemy which is the Kenyan government.

It also found that the assassination of Muslim leaders has radicalized and served to recruit dozens, if not hundreds, of people into extremist organisations. The research also discovered that the most important factor that made people join Al-Shabab according to 65% of respondents was the government’s strategy in countering terrorism.

The findings also show that Muslims in Kenya feel discriminated against. Economics also played a huge role in why people joined and nearly 96% Al-Shabab and 87% MRC said they had high levels of frustrations when they joined the organisations illustrating the role emotions play in the radicalization process.

More than half of this respondents joined Al-Shabab and MRC between the ages of 10 and 24.