A former teacher in Garissa, Kenya has been cited as the mastermind of Thursday’s terrorist attack at a university college in the area.
A KShs20 million (UShs640 million) bounty has been placed on the fugitive, Mohamed Kuno. He has been on the run since December last year, when he was identified as the al-Shabaab commander who oversaw the killing of 58 Kenyans in Mandera.
The death toll in yesterday’s attack at the Garissa University College is 147.
According to a statement from the government, Kuno has three aliases — Sheikh Mahamad, Dulyadin and Gamadhere.
Kuno, a Kenyan, moved to Somalia at the time of the Islamic Courts Union, which later metamorphosed into al-Shabaab, and became part of it. He uses his family members to carry out terrorist acts in northern Kenya.
Some sources named his associates as Adam Kuso, Khalid Dheere and Mohamud Taro.
The statement says Kuno is al-Shabaab’s leader for the Juba region, Somalia, and is currently in charge of operations against Kenya. Juba shares a vast border with Kenya, and touches Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Lamu counties.
“He commands the militia along the border and is responsible for cross-border incursions in the country. In the recent past, he has intensified attacks in northern Kenya and the Coast region, particularly Garissa, Mandera and Lamu,” says the statement.
Gamadhere, as the terrorist leader is commonly known, was first brought to the attention of Kenyans by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on December 17 last year.
At the time, the government offered KShs2 million to anybody who gave information that would lead to the man’s arrest. It circulated his photograph, alongside that of Ahmed Iman Ali, a terrorist from Majengo, Nairobi.
“Gamadhere is believed to be very religious and has been a madrasa (Islamic school) teacher for several years. He worked for Al-Haramain Foundation between 1993 and 1995 before the institution was closed. At the time, he was known as Sheikh Mahamad.
Islamic Courts Union
He later became a teacher and principal at Madrasa Najah in Garissa from 1997 to 2000, where his extremist tendencies became more manifested.
“He thereafter joined al-Shabaab after being motivated by the ideology of the Islamic Courts Union to establish an Islamic statehood in Somalia,” says the statement.
The document says most of his recruits are family members and former students of Madrasa Najah.
He is also known to have an extensive terrorist network within Kenya, particularly at the Dadaab refugee camp.
The statement goes on to list Kuno’s lineage, including tribe, sub-tribe and clan, and his three wives and children, some in Garissa and others in Somalia.
Timeline of terror attacks in kenya
Oct 24, 2011: Two grenade attacks in Nairobi leave at least six people dead and nearly 70 injured. These appear to be the first retaliatory attacks following Kenya’s incursion into Somalia. In the next two months several other attacks are launched, with churches among those targeted. At least nine attacks in December are blamed on the militants.
March 10, 2012: The year gets off on the same note, with at least five attacks in the first two months of the year. But in March at least six civilians are killed and more than 60 injured after grenades are thrown into a busy bus station in Nairobi.
June 24, 2012: A grenade is set off in a Mombasa bar packed with football fans, killing three and injuring 30. In the three months before at least six other attacks kill three people and injure tens of others.
July 1, 2012: At least 17 people are killed and 50 injured when masked gunmen attack two churches in Garissa.
Aug 28: Three policemen are killed in Mombasa and at least 12 injured following riots after the killing of Islamist cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed. The preacher was alleged to be radicalising youths, the first in a number of unexplained killings of clerics in the Kenyan coast.
Nov 18, 2012: Ten people are killed and 25 injured when an explosive goes off in public transport mini-van in Nairobi.
Dec 7, 2012: Five people die and eight others are injured in an explosion at a mosque in Nairobi. Two days earlier another explosion had killed one person and wounded six. At least four other people die in terror attacks that month.
Jan 16, 2013: Suspected Islamic militants kill five people and injure three others in Garissa. Five other people die in Other attacks.
April 18, 2013: Six people are shot dead in a hotel in Garissa in an attack carried out by four men. 10 others are wounded
Sept. 21, 2013: At least 67 people are killed and 175 others injured in a siege of Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Dec. 14, 2013: Four people die and 36 are wounded after a grenade is thrown into a public mini-van in Eastleigh, Nairobi. Nine other people die in attacks that month.
March 31, 2014: Six people are killed in two explosions in Eastleigh, Nairobi
April 1, 2014: Six people die in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area in two separate explosions. Three weeks later a car explodes at a police station in the area, killing its four occupants.
May 16, 2014: At least 10 people die in twin explosions in a crowded market in Nairobi. Six other people die that month, with nearly 70 hurt in other attacks.
June 16, 2014: At least 48 people are killed when al-Shabaab militants storm the coastal town of Mpeketoni in another attack that captures world attention.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor