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Youths from our mosque fought with al-Shabaab, imam

Youths from a Nairobi mosque joined the al-Shabaab terrorists and fought against fellow Kenyans in Somalia, an imam has admitted.

They had signed up to join the insurgents because of poverty and constant harassment by the police, according to Imam Idris Nyabwoga, of Majengo’s Riyadh mosque.

Many had since returned and renounced their violent ways, he said.

Imam Nyabwoga said, “It is true some youths from around here went to Somalia under unclear circumstances.”

And he added: “Our investigations found out that poverty made them vulnerable.”

In addition some had been radicalised by brutal policing in the slum that included extra-judicial executions.

Mr Nyabwoga continued: “Police have often thought that brutally killing a Muslim youth in the full glare of his fellows will discourage the rest. 

As far as Islamic beliefs go, that can only radicalise the rest because the belief is that when one dies defending what in their opinion is right, God will accept them.” 

The last time such an extra-judicial executions took place was late last year after plainclothes officers arrested a youth then shot him dead as his friends watched.

Imam Nyabwoga traces radicalism in Majengo back to 2007 when the young men questioned management of the mosque.

They claimed the then leaders of the mosque had grabbed plots owned by the mosque for themselves, and diverted mosque funds to their own private accounts.

Rental houses

He went on: “The mosque has properties registered under it like land and rental houses. Money accrued from these ventures are supposed to be kept as a consolidated fund that ought to help our members whenever they were in difficulties.” 

But the kitty was always empty whenever money was needed, leading to the youths questioning the management. In the end, the then imams surrendered management of the mosque and founded their own place of worship.
Because of this split the youths today disregarded any advice from their clerics, Mr Nyabwoga said.
They lost their trust in their leaders and their radicalism was fuelled by the inability of the new Muslim political leaders to fill the void.
Mr Nyabwoga revealed that some youths who had been to Somalia had since returned to the area.
“Some of them returned but a good number have since disappeared without a trace and we suspect police are involved in the disappearance.
“The few who remain have since renounced their evils ways and rejoined the mosque,” he said.