- Some of the returnees escaped killings in Somalia after falling out with Al-Shabaab leaders while others have run away from increased African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operations.
- The government offered an amnesty to Al-Shabaab returnees who surrendered to the police or other government officials for rehabilitation.
- Upon reforming , the returnees would then be reintegrated into society.
- But some returnees sneaked back into the country and go into hiding.
- Some security officers suspect the returnees are now involved in recruiting new members and some are spying for the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab.
Terrorist returnees and radicalised elements continue to pose the biggest threat to Kenya’s national security and development, intelligence reports warn.
There have been calls for government to extend amnesty offer to terrorist returning into the country especially in coastal region and northeastern Kenya.
Since amnesty offer by the government 2-3 years ago, over 200 Al-Shabaab operatives returned into the country’s south coast, with another number secretly sneaking into the country.
The returnees were supposed to surrender to authorities for rehabilitation and deradicalization program by the National Counter Terrorism Center, however, a huge reportedly declined to register with the authorities and went into hiding.
Kenyan security agencies are grappling with the aftermath of terrorist returnees who greatly contribute to the witnessed sporadic incidents of attacks along the border with Somalia to the Kenyan coast.
Security agencies are faced with menace of grassroot jihadi cells resurrected from the returned terrorists.
Lamu is among the most affected coastal counties by the returning terrorist elements. The returned terror elements have been able to hide within their communities, setting up active cells used to plan share information to their parent group in Somalia.
In a number of times, Kenya anti-terror police unit has launched manhunt for Al-Shabaab returnees. For example, ATPU launched manhunt at Mlango wa Papa Mosque in Old Town, Mombasa in an effort to neutralize two sneaked returnees identified as Salim Aboud Sultri and Ramadhan Rai Tsungu aka Rambo.
Some these returnness already have joined gangs and now operate in groups christened as the Gaza boys, Wakali Wao and Wakali Kwanza, among others.
In another case, Anti-terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) detectives also put Salim Mohamed Rashid 22, and Juma Mwengo Athman on their terror radar. The two terror suspects believed to have trained in Syria escaped after detectives raided a house believed to be their hideout in Mombasa.
The suspects are believed to have links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The returnee menace requires a multi-agency approach with authorities calling on members of the public to share tip-offs on suspects.
Salim Mohamed Rashid was first arrested in 2017 by ATPU detectives, two days after he allegedly arrived in the country from Syria where he trained with ISIS. Rashid was arrested together with Ms Nasra Hyder Faiz 28, who detectives believe was his accomplice.
The returnees at the coastal (Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa counties have been linked with recruiting members into Al-Shabaab, a terror group that has active cells inside Boni forest.
Kenyan intelligence warns of amnesty calls for Al-Shabaab returnees by a section of leaders saying the calls needs to bring together the elective leaders with regional security chiefs, religious and community leaders for effective counter terrorism and deradicalization efforts.