Kenyan terror suspects return from Ethiopia 2008-10-04 14:54:34   Print

    NAIROBI, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Eight Kenyan terror suspects flown to secret jails in Ethiopia about two years ago for questioning over terrorism links have returned home, Kenyan police confirmed on Saturday.

    Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe who did not say whether the repatriated men will faces charges in the country said the suspects were flown back after strict verification exercise.

    "All Kenyan terror suspects have reunited with their families now. This was done after a strict verification exercise. They are now with their families or mothers," Kiraithe told Xinhua by telephone.

    Kiraithe said the ninth Kenyan arrested separately but held in the same prison has not returned. He did not say whether the man has links to Al-Qaeda network.

    Kenyan authorities arrested at least 150 men, women, and children from more than 18 countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada, in operations near the Somali border and held them for weeks without charges in Nairobi.

    In January and February 2007, the Kenyan government then rendered dozens of them, with no notice to families, lawyers or the detainees themselves, on flights to Somalia, where they were handed over to the Ethiopian military.

    Ethiopian forces also arrested an unknown number of people in Somalia. Those rendered were later transported to detention centers in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and other Ethiopian towns, where they effectively disappeared.

    The plight of the detainees was publicized this week in a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch called "Why am I still here?"

    The United States and other intelligence services interrogated several foreign nationals while they were being detained in Nairobi and Ethiopia, where they were denied access to legal counsel and their consular representatives, rights groups have said.

    Sources within the security forces said the Kenyan government has insisted even the eight linked to the dreaded Al-Qaeda's point man in East Africa suspected to have masterminded the 1997 bomb attack in Nairobi, will remain on the police radar as the next course of action is considered.

    "Since none of these individuals offers any plausible reason for taking part in terrorist training in Somalia or indeed for their links with international terrorists, the government will determine the appropriate action against them," reported a local daily, The Standard, quoting police sources.

    Apart from confessions of training under the Mujahidin program in war-torn Somalia, one of them even admitted he chauffeured Abdul Mohammed Fazul, who last month escaped police dragnet in the Coast.

    Fazul, a native of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros who is also on the U.S. most-wanted list along with his mentor, Osama Bin Laden, returned in August to seek treatment for a kidney ailment.

    The return of the terror suspects stirred the painful memories of the 1997 bomb, which uprooted the U.S. embassy, killing at least 250 people, shattering several adjacent buildings, and forced the country into the realms of global terrorist hot-zones.

    The move also rekindled memories of the Kikambala Hotel suicide bomb attack in 2002, and the attempt to bring down an Israeli plane on the Kenyan Coast the same day.

    "Investigation revealed these Kenyans had traveled to Somalia in 2006 to get militia training and were recruited into terrorist cells by international terrorists operating in southern Somalia," the newspaper said.

    In order to ascertain the nationalities of the nine Kenyans, the government dispatched a verification team to Ethiopia comprising immigration and security officers to interview this group for a second time.

    This was because on their arrest at Kiunga, and out of fear or reprisal they claimed they were from Somalia and that was why they were deported. It is now confirmed that the nine persons are the Kenyans found in Ethiopian custody.

    Having verified their status, the government made arrangements with the Ethiopia authorities for their return to Kenya.

    Sixteen other Kenyans were inadvertently caught in a war between Somali Islamic fundamentalists and Ethiopian forces between December 2006 and January last year.

    After police interrogation, they were all assisted to return to their homes in North Eastern, Nairobi and Coast provinces. The Kenyan government also released the names of 70 foreign nationals, who were screened and deported.

Editor: Sun Yunlong
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