Muslim and political leaders from Mombasa County Wednesday welcomed the 10-day amnesty to radicalised youths but asked the government to give “a clear’’ plan on how it will be done. Led by Governor Hassan Joho, they said they were optimistic that the amnesty will work through joint efforts by the community, leaders, security agencies and county administrators. County Commissioner Nelson Marwa asked the youth who have been involved in terror including those who have returned from Somalia to take advantage of the amnesty and surrender to the authorities saying they will not be victimised. “On behalf of the President and the Ministry of Interior, we are asking the returnees and radicalised youths to give themselves up early to chiefs, assistant chiefs, officers commanding stations, officer commanding police division, members of county assemblies, and other authorities,” Mr Marwa said. He spoke at a news conference in his office after meeting chiefs and their assistants from Mombasa County. Those who surrender, Mr Marwa said, will be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society.
He urged parents to support the government in fighting terrorism by encouraging their children to surrender before the lapse of the grace period given by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Nkaiserry on Monday. Mr Marwa assured parents of such youths that they will not be arrested unless there is evidence linking them directly to recruitment and other terror related activities after the 10 days. “No one will be arrested. No one will be harassed within the 10 days. This message is for you radicals, parents and relatives. “If we cooperate, we shall see fruits. We must win the war against Al-Shabaab,” the commissioner said. He asked chiefs and their assistants to pass the message to the residents.
“I want you to put aside all the assignments you have and concentrate on this issue.
“I do not want to hear there were no surrenders. You cannot tell us they are not there,” he told the administrators.
FLUSH THEM OUT
After the amnesty, Mr Marwa said, the government will swiftly flush them out of their hiding places. “When we start playing tough it will not be good. We know where they (terror suspects and radicals) are hiding. We are going to smoke them out,” the commissioner said. Speaking on the side-lines of a meeting he had convened for Muslim clerics to discuss strategies to deal with insecurity and terrorism in the county, Mr Joho called for a clear strategy to guide the implementation of the government amnesty.
“We expect it will give us the opportunity to understand what they are fighting for and put a face to them.
“These are not just ordinary criminal gangs but criminals who have different ideologies,” he said.
The governor told the clerics that they needed to move fast in resolving how to deal with radicalisation and attributed the slow pace in doing so to fear. “We acknowledge there are insecurity challenges that can be addressed at the local level by you Imams and Sheikhs in the mosques,” Mr Joho told the meeting at the Aga Khan Jubilee Hall.
He cautioned the leaders not to be evasive on the terror issue because it had directly affected them economically. “Even before the Garissa University College attack, the economy of Majengo was drastically affected. “This is a clear example on the impact of terror on us,’’ said the governor, adding that socio-economic injustices would not be resolved through terrorism. “Investors will not put up industries to employ youths who will be a threat to them,’’ he added. Mr Joho also held a meeting with leaders of various Christian denominations. Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir described the amnesty as a smart security decision aimed at bringing peace.
“But the government needs to be cautious in dealing with the suspects so that their presence should not be another threat in the community,” the MP said. Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya national organising secretary, Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa applauded the amnesty move as positive. “We request them to return home and join their families. We are ready to accept them,” he said.