Saturday, April 11, 2009


It is a known fact that sugar and other commodities are smuggled in from Somalia through a number of well-known points between Ras Kamboni down in Lamu and Mandera in the north and probably more. Truckloads of sugar smuggled in daily from Somalia are enriching warlords who control the lawless country and are causing instability in Kenya and Somalia.

The Kenya-Somalia Border has become a safe haven for all kind of criminals and the Kenyan Government is not doing anything. Just two weeks ago, some Kenyan officials were kidnapped by "Somali Militias" while we don't monitor our border. Illegal trade is so rampant that Kenya Police and Custom officials are "connected" with well known "Smugglers", a fact which the Internal Ministry is taking lightly but can become a very big problem for Kenya. Among the kingpins of the illegal trade is a man described by American intelligence as the key sponsor of Somalia’s main militia group, Al Shabaab. Many more Somalis operate at will in the vast Kenya-Somalia border without any worry from Kenya.

The below has been the interview with the North Eastern provincial Commissioner Kimeu Maingi in Garissa this week with KEN OPALA. This is what he said on:

Hassan Al-Turki, popularly known as Al Shabaab’s “money man”, and who has previously been targeted for killing by US bombers.
We are told he has a Kenyan identity card but we are yet to establish if it is indeed true. We are liaising with Immigrations on that. We also want to confirm reports that his family is here.

Recruitment of Kenyan youths into Al Shabaab.
There has been recruitment of boys to join Al Shabaab. During the IUC, some boys moved into Somalia to be recruited, according to our intelligence. That was as early as 2007. We cannot say exactly how many they were. Indeed, the number cannot be authenticated. The information we have is that some never came back. Again recently, some went to join Al Shabaab. However, according to reports, they couldn’t agree on the salary. They are said to have demanded between $30 and $40 per day.

Mobilisation of Somali refugees as fighters.
We are investigating whether there is any recruitment in refugee camps. The camps are holding so many people yet they are not fenced off. The sheer numbers make it too difficult to ascertain whether or not Al Shabaab is operating amongst the refugees. The camps hold 260,000 people while their capacity is 90,000.

Closure of border.
The border is closed. But having said that, there are scenarios we have to appreciate while dealing with our people who have relatives across the border, such as in Liboi, Bula Hachie and Bula Hawa. These towns depend on Kenya. Residents will always cross to seek medication or to buy household goods.

Corruption among police and customs staff.
It is a matter we are investigating. But let me add that it is a very serious matter. It was raised during our negotiations for the release of the district education officials kidnapped last month.
I have been going round the province to tell businesspeople not to bribe State officials. As you can see, we have been able to reduce drastically the number of unregistered vehicles coming in from Somalia.

Hawallah, or informal money transfer counters.
There are reports that they are being used for money laundering, even from outside Kenya. We are working with the anti-terrorism squad from Nairobi to deal with this issue. So far, we have not closed any hawallah because we have not confirmed that they are a threat to national security. If we do, we will move very fast to close them down.

Proceeds from piracy off the Somali coast.
The price of property in NEP has shot up. We are investigating if it’s dirty money. I have alerted all councils, especially Wajir and Mandera, to be on the look-out for such money.