Two Kenyan hostages freed by Al-Shabaab after conversion to Islam
Mogadishu (Harar24) –Ever since the start of the Kenyan incursion into Somalia, the Al-Qaeda linked group Al-Shabaab has been carrying out various attacks inside Kenya, some in the North Eastern Provinces and with some even going deeper into Kenyan territory such as the Westgate mall attack last September.
Many a times the Al-Shabaab movement claimed that such attacks led to the killings and abductions of several Kenyan troops, government officers and citizens. The group often exhibits their captives in videos released by its media wing, where captives often seen pleading to the Kenyan government and public for help and to meet their abductors demands in order to save their lives.
However, in a very unusual occasion yesterday Al-Shabaab exhibited two of their Kenyan captives not in a video but in a mosque in the coastal town of Barawe, where the two Kenyans surprisingly announced their conversion to Islam and as a consequence were freed “without conditions” as mentioned by the official Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Dheere who also attended the ceremony. “These two men are now free without any conditions, they are free to do as they wish and to go where they desire, whether they stay here or go back to their country is entirely up to them. They are our brothers now and are free” said Sheikh Ali Dheere.
The two men who identified themselves as 52-years old James Kiarie Gichuhi and 28-years Daniel Njugund at the ceremony also confirmed their conversion to Islam after what they said was “good treatment they received from Al-Shabaab” and after an “invitation to Islam”, they further mentioned that they had taken the Islamic names “Abdurahman” and “Abdullah”. The two men also mentioned that they hail from the Kikuyu tribe and were from the Muranga district.
According to James Kiarie Gichuhi who spoke at the event, he was captured at the end of 2011 inside Kenya by Al-Shabaab members who at the time were fervently carrying attacks inside Kenya. Whilst speaking at the mosque, Gichuhi mentioned that the Kenyan government was “responsible” for his capture due to their “invasion of Somalia” and then “didn’t exert any effort to secure his release”. Daniel Njugund who was also captured around the same time mentioned that he was captured inside Somalia by Al-Shabaab members. Despite the fact that both men remained in Al-Shabaab custody for a lenghy period, neither Al-Shabaab nor the men mentioned what their occupations or positions were at the time of their capture.
According to several residents in Barawe who spoke with Harar24, the two men were greatly welcomed by the locals and mosque attendees who exchanged greetings, handshakes and hugs with them.
Despite the release of these two Kenyan captives, Al-Shabaab claims to hold more Kenyans as captives, their fate and locations remain unknown.