Al-Shabaab turning former Christians into Jihadists in Kenya

October 25, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

African Union troops are fighting against al-Shabaab in Somalia

African Union troops are fighting against al-Shabaab in Somalia

Kenya, October 23, 2012: Militant Islamist group al-Shabaab is targeting deprived and unemployed converts from Christianity to Islam in Kenya, using them to wage jihad in the country.

This was the warning from senior church leaders following a number of recent attacks on churches and other targets in the East African country.

The Rev. Wellington Mutiso, head of the Evangelical Alliance in Kenya, said:

It is the recent converts who [are] being used to bomb churches. It is not members of the Somali, Boran, or Swahili communities, which have many Muslims, but the other tribes which have been known to follow Christianity, like the Luo, Kikuyu, or Luhya.

The use of converts from these traditionally Christian people groups makes it more difficult for would-be attackers to be identified.

A grenade attack on a church in Nairobi in April was carried out by an infiltrator in the congregation.

The Rev. David Gathanju, head of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), said:

We are now meeting frequently to discuss ways of handling the trend. We feel those who are attacking us are “our own” who have recently converted. That’s why it is difficult for the security to identify them.

Two recent cases lend support to the church leaders’ analysis. Last week, Musharaf Abdalla, a convert from Christianity to Islam, admitted in court that he was a member of al-Shabaab and had handled explosive vests and devices.

A year ago, another convert, Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, who uses the alias Mohammed Seif, was jailed for life after pleading guilty to carrying out grenade attacks in Nairobi. He had said that he converted to Islam in 2005 and then went to Somalia for intense Islamic teaching and weapons training. Oliacha returned to Kenya in 2011 and started carrying out attacks.

Al-Shabaab, which controls most of southern Somalia and has been carrying out cross-border attacks in Kenya, is targeting poor, unemployed youth from Christian backgrounds, luring them with the promise of an income.

Emmanuel Kisiangani of the Institute for Security Studies in Nairobi said:

In a state of deprivation, people will easily embrace extremism as is happening in Afghanistan. They are also likely to be easily brainwashed.

Godffery Ngumi, senior lecturer at the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Kenyatta University, said that recent converts can be easily misused, having limited knowledge about their new religion.

This disturbing trend presents an urgent challenge to the Church in Kenya. It must do all it can to prevent impoverished young Christians from becoming disaffected, while the family of believers in the country and beyond has a responsibility to provide for their physical needs so that they are not drawn away from their faith by material incentives.

– barnabasteam

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