Two friends Idris Opwora Wesonga and Joseph Juma Odhiambo set on a journey to Somalia. Before leaving they usured their close relatives that they were leaving in search of a lucrative job.
Jackline Bakola, Wesonga’s wife, said her husband left their rented house in Mumias town on November 11, 2019, together with his friend Odhiambo for Somalia.
Unknown to Bakola, security agents had noted Wesonga’s and Odhiambo’s activities and had put them on their radar.
This was revealed by a senior anti-terror police officer in Mandera during the hearing of a case in which the two were linked to terror cells.
As Wesonga’s wife maintained that her husband’s trip was about making money for a family business, police said the two friends had been radicalised and recruited into an Al-Shabaab terror cell in Mumias.
They were headed to Somalia to join the group in Baidoa.
During their trial, Elias Korir, a police officer attached to ATPU, told the court that the two appeared in the anti-terror police database.
Mr Korir said police received intelligence concerning the emergence of a terror cell in Mumias. He said some places of worship in the town were propagating extreme ideologies and were radicalising youths in the area.
Masjid Fulqan, headed by Ali Rasow alias Twahar, was fingered as the radicalisation centre in Mumias by the security officer.
“The intelligence report mentioned Musa Mabwege as the amir (leader) of the terror cell in Mumias,” Mr Korir told the court.
Police believed the two were recruited at this mosque in Mumias.
Police said that in July 2019, the two friends left Mumias for Mombasa with the intention to cross into Somalia but their mission was hampered by a security operation in Boni Forest at that time.
Police said the two kept changing mobile phones to avoid being tracked by security agencies.
In November, police picked up signals of the two within Nairobi after returning from Mombasa.
According to police records, the two planned to travel to Mandera but avoided Garissa since Odhiambo had a criminal record there.
Odhiambo was in 2015 charged and convicted at the Garissa Law Courts with attempting to entre Somalia illegally.
He was imprisoned for six months.
Police said they lost track of the two immediately they left Nairobi for Mandera but raised the matter with their Somalia counterparts.
Wesonga and Odhiambo were arrested on November 22, 2019 by Somalia National Army (SNA) personnel.
A Somali security officer said the two were arrested between Bulahawa and Baidoa in Somalia while dressed in Islamic attire.
They had managed to travel about 15 km into Somalia towards Luq where they were to be picked up by their host.
Wesonga and Odhiambo denied three charges, including travelling to a terrorist designated country, failing to report their departure to an immigration office and exiting Kenya through an illegal point.
Mandera Senior Resident Magistrate Kimani Mukabi sentenced Odhiambo to 15 years in prison and Wesonga was jailed for 10 years.
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