Kenyan Muslim networks fund al Shabaab: UN report
By David Clarke
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Somalia's al Qaeda-linked rebels have extensive funding, recruiting and training networks within neighbouring Kenya, and have also established connections with jihadist groups across the continent, according to a UN report.
A UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia and Eritrea obtained by Reuters said non-Somali Kenyan nationals now constitute the largest and most organised non-Somali entity within the al Shabaab group.
Al Shabaab has been waging an insurgency against the UN-backed government in Somalia since 2007. It controls large parts of southern and central Somalia, as well as chunks of the capital, Mogadishu.
"In the past, al Shabaab's presence in Kenya has been concentrated primarily within the ethnic Somali community. But since 2009, the Group has rapidly expanded its influence and membership to non-Somali Kenyan nationals," the report said.
The UN investigators focused most of their attention on the activities of the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC), commonly known as Pumwani Muslim Youth. It is also investigating two other indigenous Kenyan groups with reported links to al Shabaab.
"Officially, the MYC Constitution defines the group as a 'community based-organisation' that aims to provide youth with religious counselling ... In practice, members of the group openly engage in recruiting for al Shabaab in Kenya and facilitate travel to Somalia for individuals to train and fight for 'jihad' in Somalia," the report said.
Kenya has a large Somali diaspora living in the Eastleigh suburb of the capital Nairobi, along with nearly 400,000 Somalis living in the world's biggest refugee camp in Dadaab in the north of the country.
Reuters reporters have seen al Shabaab fighters in Eastleigh, sometimes returning for medical treatment, and Somali parents living there complain that some mosques actively recruit youths to fight for al Shabaab. Continued...