Kenyan Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia are now divided over Kenya’s amnesty call for Kenyan fighters who are willing to surrender and come back home.
These mixed reactions over the amnesty offer by Kenyan government are however not public since the fighters secretly fear for their lives if they happen to defect from the sect and the remaining fighters catch up with them.
Kenyan Somali Al Shabaab fighters in lower Shabelle region confess that the Mujahideen (a term used to refer to Muslims who participate in Jihad war) are willing to defect though there is the fear of them being killed or worse off, their families. They fear that they shall constantly be on the run, both from the government and from the remaining Al Shabaab fighters.
Despite the government’s promise to rehabilitate this group of youth, most of these Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia are adamant due to the kind of radicalization they have been taken through.
Most of these youth have families which they left behind when they joined this militia group. Some have not returned home since 2010 when most Kenyan Al Shabaab fighters were recruited into the gang.
Muslim clerics, Christians and independent organizations are now calling on the Kenyan government to give more assurance of the safety of these youth once they come home. An assurance that they will be free of victimization.
In the past, Kenya’s anti-terror police unit (ATPU) has been accused of killing some AL Shabaab fighters’ returnees.
Intelligence experts have however learnt that these youth could be willing to come back home since what they are experiencing on Somalia is not in line with their expectations when they were being recruited.
During the recruitment, these men (and women for other militia groups) were convinced that they were joining groups for purposes of Daawa (a call or Muslim invitation for religious preaching). This has however not been the case.
The Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Kenya, the latest one being the Garissa Massacare which killed 147 students. Others include Mandera Massacre, West Gate Mall which claimed 67 lives and other bombings in Kenya’s towns.
Muslim leaders have asked the government to extend the amnesty offer to one month and not ten days as earlier announced to allow more Kenyan Al Shabaab fighters to defect from the militia group.
Al-Qaeda linked group Al Shabaab has promise to conduct more attacks in Kenya as long as the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops are still fighting terrorism in Somalia.