Somali blasts blamed on Kenyans
One bombing at the fortified headquarters of the AU mission in Somalia is said to have claimed the lives of six soldiers and four civilians while the other left 11 Burundian soldiers dead and injured another 15.
If the information in the cable is accurate, the attacks on February 22 and May 24, 2009, would represent the first recorded use of Kenyan suicide bombers in the war-torn country and serve as a stark illustration of the danger the nation faces from the al Shabaab militia.
In a cable dated July 5, 2009, US ambassador Michael Ranneberger offers Washington what could be the most detailed profile of al Shabaab activities in Kenya yet published.
He says the militia had stepped up recruitment efforts in a number of areas, including Eastleigh, Isiolo and North Eastern Province.
The dispatch appears to echo the concerns voiced by Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere on Monday when he released the profiles of 11 militants said to be ready to attack targets in Kenya.
The terrorist group claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed 74 football fans in Kampala last year and is considered the region’s biggest security threat.
According to the cable, dozens of Kenyan youth had been lured to Somalia to take part in the country’s decades-long civil war.
“There are a number of factors that make Kenya a fruitful source for recruiting young men to join such extremist groups as the Somalia-based al Shabaab militia,” the cable says.
“Kenya’s close proximity to Somalia, its sizeable population of ethnic Somalis, high levels of poverty and unemployment, history of poor governance, and a worrisome youth bulge all contribute to the risk factors.
“Kenya’s ethnic Somali population in particular suffers from lower levels of development and education than their fellow Kenyans. Idle, unemployed youth are at particular risk.”
The cable offers the names of the two alleged suicide bombers and provides details of how they were recruited in Isiolo and Eastleigh. (The Nation is withholding the names of the suspected bombers to protect their families.)
Both had completed high school and were aged 25 and 26. According to a family friend who spoke to an embassy political officer in Isiolo, the bomber responsible for the February 22 attack was recruited in 2006 to fight in Somalia against the Ethiopians.
According to the man, the youth grew a beard and “came into good money” after his recruitment. “The journey started at the Garissa Lodge in Eastleigh.
“Four to five boys at a time would go on a bus to Doble and on to Kismayu, where they trained in a camp for three weeks. After that, recruits received mobile phones, which is how they subsequently received their orders.
“When the Islamic Courts Union fell in late 2006, they reassembled in Doble and he returned to Kenya, but not before his commanders destroyed his (and others’) mobile phones, which had sensitive numbers programmed in them.”
The second youth was also recruited from Isiolo, which the cable describes as a hotbed of Shabaab activity.
The diplomats offer the names of four mosques in Eastleigh and another four in Isiolo which they say are key