NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – Kenya’s anti-terrorism police on Friday dismissed a middle-aged man who claimed links with Al-Shabaab militia from Somalia, saying he has a mental problem.
The Head of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) Boniface Mwaniki said 35 year-old Peter Wang’ondu who claimed to have travelled to Somalia seven years ago where he converted to Islam, is a liar and “paranoid.”
“Not at all. The man is not Al-Shabaab fighter but it is true he has been to Somalia but he is not in an Al-Shabaab cell. He was a teacher in Somalia in 2005 but he never joined the terror group. He is paranoid,” Mwaniki told Xinhua on Friday.
Wang’ondu who was arrested in Nyahururu on Tuesday had told the police that he had information on the September 21, 2013 Westgate attack, which he shared with a local media but was never published.
“I had information from Martin Synod (an Al-Qaida operative) that Westgate shopping mall, where the President’s relatives go for shopping, would be attacked with an intention of killing them,” he reportedly said. But the anti-terror police officers said they had arrested Wang’ondu on two separate occasions and released him before admitting him in the hospital meant for mentally ill persons in Nairobi.
“We had arrested him in 2005 and admitted him at Mathari Hospital. But he has been in Somalia as a teacher before becoming paranoid,” Mwaniki said.
“The man’s claims are also not true. He is lying to police officers and we have advised him to see seek medical attention after several arrests,” he added.
Wang’ondu claimed training with the terror group in Somalia and other countries. The man, a former casual labourer in Nyahururu in northwest Kenya, was an English teacher in Somalia.
The man said he crossed into the Horn of Africa nation from Mandera where he had gone for business when his ally advised him that he would find a well teaching job there.
He also claimed that he has travelled to 33 countries around the world on various missions of Al-Qaida since then.
The claims come amid heightened security in the country following threats from terror groups they would attack.
Western nations through their embassies in Kenya have cautioned their citizens and staff about impending terror attacks in Kenya.
The move comes as security forces are on alert following information that the Al-Shabaab terror group are planning to launch a series of attacks in key installations in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia has circulated an alert to all senior government and police officers that the Al- Qaida allied group could be targeting key government facilities and popular public places which he said should be put under vigilance to foil any possible attack.
The security alert comes amid rising fears among communities living along the porous border with Somalia that the Islamist group was turning their frustration on the innocent civilians in a series of revenge attacks.
Al-Shabaab militants have vowed to attack Nairobi after the east African nation which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the signing of the federal charter for Somalia in 2005, invaded Somalia to flush out the insurgents it blamed for kidnappings of tourists.
The police said they are concerned that most public facilities have lowered their security alertness unlike two months ago when Kenya started pursuing Al-Shabaab.\