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REVEALED: Rebellious student who became terrorist

The ring leader of the terror attack at Central Police Station in Mombasa on Sunday morning was a troublesome student who was demoted from student leadership because of indiscipline before she was expelled from school.

Tasnim Yakub Abdullahi Farah sat her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams last year at Qubaa Muslim School on the island.

She scored a B- (Minus) aggregate grade. Her teachers believe she would have performed much better had she been a model student.

Investigations by the Daily Nation show that she was the head girl at the school but was removed from the position over her delinquency.

The details of Tasnim’s dark past emerged as forensic experts prepared to collect finger prints from the three bodies lying at Coast General Hospital Mortuary to establish the suspects’ previous criminal records, if any.

The second suspect in the attack, Fatuma Omar, went to Coast Girls High School, across the road from the scene of the attack, and sat her KCSE exams in 2013.

Police officers believe Fatuma hailed from the nearby Kibokoni neighbourhood, but information about her remains scanty.


The third suspect, only identified as Mariam, had been arrested and interrogated by Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) previously but was set free for lack of evidence.

On Monday, police sources said the ring leader, Tasnim, believed to have been in her early 20s when she stormed the police station in the company of Fatuma and Mariam on Sunday, was the one who stabbed a policeman twice after jumping over the report counter.

A school official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, described the girl as “a very bright student” whose performance took a nose-dive when she started showing signs of gross misconduct and disobedience while in Form Three.

“She became so rude to her teachers that she was unbearable to manage, whether in class or outside,” said the official, pained by the dramatic turn for the worst his model student took.

Mid-last year, at the height of her rebellion, Tasnim arrived at Qubaa Muslim School dressed in civilian clothes, contrary to school regulations.

She, alongside four other girls who seemed to subscribe to her notion of haughtiness, had also brought mobile phones to class, to the chagrin of teachers and the school administration.

The five were reprimanded and summoned to the school principal’s offices, where they were ordered to take off the  home clothes and hand over their mobile phones.

They complied and changed into school uniform, but a few days later, Tasnim mobilised a group of students to break into the principal’s offices and recover the clothes and mobile phones.


“It was on a Saturday when they broke into the offices,” said the official. “They were seen by fellow students and our security guard. The following Monday they were summoned to the principal’s offices, where they admitted committing the offence.”

The girls’ transgressions were recorded in the school black book, after which they were immediately expelled. “They sat the national exams from home,” said the school official.

While Tasnim was intelligent, it was her charisma and charm that stood out the most. Her ability to mobilise students caught the attention of the school administration, which appointed her the school head girl in the hope that she would use her wit and charms to their advantage.

“I was gutted when I read this morning that she was involved in a terror attack,” said one of her teachers. “I never expected her to go that far. We lost track of her after we expelled them.”

Tasnim is believed to have been an orphan. Her elderly grandmother paid her school fees through the support of relatives residing overseas.

Security agencies linked the young women to a terror cell based in Boni Forest, Lamu, called Jaysh Al Ayman — which has been associated with the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.

On Monday, in the wake of unconfirmed reports that a fourth male suspect had been arrested in connection with the attack, Mombasa County Commissioner Evans Achoki called for patience, saying a comprehensive statement would be issued on Tuesday.