Kenya: Terror Recruitment ‘Thriving in Prisons’

Some terrorists have infiltrated Kenyan prisons and are recruiting inmates, a study in Kenya shows.

A report by the Hans Seidel Foundation indicates that Al-Shabaab was exploiting Kenya’s ill-run prisons, turning them into thriving recruitment grounds.

A respondent in the study who had been jailed for petty theft said he was approached by some terror suspects while in prison. He had been placed in custody with all sorts of criminals who would persuade him and other inmates to join the terror group.

Some spoke of the powerful appeal of Al-Shabaab to those in prison as they offered forgiveness and the opportunity to be cleansed as opposed to the stigma offered by the current system.

Some of the people interviewed acknowledged the presence of rogue mosques and leaders who seemed to be stoking tensions for personal gain and who are key agents in identifying potential recruits. They also operate outside or around religious education system that is not standardised or transparent.

Speaking during a conference on combating violent extremism in Nairobi, Mr Rashid Abdi of the International Crisis Group warned that if the government did not come up with proper rehabilitation of about 1,500 returnees, they could easily go back.

“There is no coherent rehabilitation programme. The state views them as sleeper cells while Al-Shabaab views them as deserters,” Mr Rashid said.

In February, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans to stem radicalisation among inmates by building a separate prison for terror suspects.

Source: The Nation