Al-Shabaab Threatens All Non-Local Christians in Northeastern Kenya
Audio Recording Raises Fear Among Christian Community
02/28/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Monday, February 23, al-Shabaab released an audio clip online, ordering all non-local Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya. In the 20-minute clip, al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, urged Somali-Kenyans to evict all non-Muslims living and working in Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera if they do not leave of their own free will. He said, “Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers.”
The three counties that border Somalia in the northeast are dominated by Somalis who migrated to Kenya because of the war and violence in Somalia. Reacting to news of the warning, Reverend Cosmas Mwinzi of the Assemblies of God in Garissa said, “This is not news at all because the conduct of the local people here has always suggested that they want us to leave. This region has been unstable for years due to war in Somalia and hatred against non-locals who are mostly Christians. The levels of education and infrastructure in the three counties are low and it is only through the expertise and hard work of the non-locals that the living standard of the Somali people in Kenya can improve. We have non-locals in all sectors, from health to education.”
The announcement by al-Shabaab comes as many non-local teachers are being transferred to other schools outside northeastern Kenya because three Christian teachers were killed in Garissa last month. Most of the teachers who were not transferred have now requested transfers due to the February 19 bus attack in Mandera that led to the murder of two non-local Christian workers.
ICC spoke to one Christian teacher, Mr. Fredrick Kitonyo, who has yet to be transferred. He said, “I left my work station in January and I was among the first bunch of teachers to present themselves to the Teachers Service Commission requesting for transfers. I have not been given a new posting letter yet and if I do not get it, I will not return to Garissa. I am ready for interdiction.”
Yesterday, during a crisis meeting to unravel the stalemate of security for non-local teachers in northeastern Kenya, the Inspector-General of Police expressed his concerns about the Somalis in Kenya who sit on important information about planned al-Shabaab attacks. He noted, “Security alone cannot provide a solution in this region. It is only the non-local teachers at Kamuthe Primary School who were not aware of that attack. The students knew there was going to be an attack. Local teachers during the material day of the attack were absent. We have argued that the local component is very important to complement the security operation.”
The Kenyan government has not yet responded to the threatening audio clip. However, the US Embassy in Kenya has issued a security alert regarding a suspected hotel attack targeting tourists, locals, and business travelers.
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “This release is terrible news for Christians living and working in eastern Kenya. They already live with increased fear and anxiety, as many have had to travel to find work. Now with this threat, it is clear that al-Shabaab will be increasing attacks on Christians who are simply trying to provide for their families.”