Kenyan Shabaab fighters divided over amnesty offer

On Tuesday, Kenya has offered Shabaab fighters ten days to lay down arms in an amnesty.

Kenyan Shabaab fighters divided over amnesty offer

World Bulletin / News Desk

Kenyans fighting with Somalia's Al-Shabaab have had mixed reactions to a recent amnesty offered by the Kenyan government if they lay down their arms.

"I have heard of the amnesty offer by the government," said a Kenyan Al-Shabaab member based in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region who agreed to talk to The Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, using only his nickname, Abu Mussa.

On Tuesday, Kenya announced its willingness to rehabilitate – and pardon – repentant young people who had been radicalized by Al-Shabaab.

"The government hereby calls upon all individuals who had gone to Somalia for training and who wish to disassociate themselves with terrorism to report to national government offices within the next ten days," Cabinet Secretary for the Interior Joseph Nkaissery declared in a statement.

At least 148 people – mostly students – were killed earlier this month in a devastating attack on northern Kenya's Garissa University College.

Somalia's Al-Shabaab group swiftly claimed responsibility for the carnage.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has vowed to carry out attacks in Kenya as long as the East African country maintains a military presence in neighboring Somalia.

Most of Al-Shabaab's non-Somali members hail from Kenya. Their numbers are estimated at between 600 and 1,000, according to a UN report on the group's recruitment activities.

"I cannot trust the Kenyan government," Abu Mussa told AA.

"They killed many returnees in the past, including my closest brother. The ATPU killed him," he said, referring to Kenya's anti-terror police unit.

However, according to Abu Mussa, some of his fellow Kenyan Al-Shabaab fighters have shown an interest in going home.

Another Kenyan, who referred to himself only as Abdi and is based in an Al-Shabaab camp in Somalia's western Gedo region, welcomed the government's amnesty offer.

"If they are honest, I'm ready to return home," he told AA. "I have not been home for four years."

Abdi said he had seen many of his fellow fighters killed.

"I don't fear death, but I don't see this fighting ending soon," he told AA.

Abdi was recruited by Al-Shabaab in Kenya's northern Mandera region.

"We were not told we were coming to fight," he told AA. "I was told we were coming for daawa [preaching] and religious studies."

"I could not return home since I knew I was an Al-Shabaab [fighter] and therefore a wanted man," lamented Abdi.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Nisan 2015, 12:01