One of the terrorists in the January 15 DusitD2 Hotel attack in Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya, Ali Salim Gichunge, alias Farouk, studied Islam in Uganda, his family members have revealed. Gichunge, who is said to have been killed in the attack, alongside two other colleagues, reportedly came to Uganda in 2016 and attended different radical Islam teachings in different parts of the country.
The terrorist attack claimed lives of 21 people and left many others injured. Details emerging also indicate that Gichunge’s father, Abdala Salim, is a Sergeant in the Kenya national army, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and has been arrested alongside his mother, Sakina Mariam.
The two have been transported from Isiolo, a Kenyan town in the northern part of the country, to Nairobi, for interrogation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. Ugandan security agencies remained tight-lipped on Friday when contacted about the new details emerging from the terror investigations. However, a senior security source, who is currently working with the Kenyan security agencies on secondment, confi rmed the developments.
“Yes, it is true, we have received credible reports that he might have come here for further radicalization. We are investigating the claims and, at an appropriate time, we will share the details,” the source revealed.
However, we have learnt that the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) Director General, Col. (rtd) Kaka Bagyenda, had sent a specialised team of operatives to Busia, to gather more information about the training and operations of Gichunge.
According to Sunday Vision has learnt that three Islamic schools and mosques are currently being investigated over terror links and the heads of the schools would be questioned any time. It is not yet clear whether the Kenyan government had requested its Ugandan counterpart to extradite the heads of some of the Islamic schools which Gichunge attended, to help with the investigations.
On Friday, the Nairobi court allowed the Police to continue holding fi ve suspects arrested over the DusitD2 Hotel attack for 30 days, to allow detectives complete investigations. The suspects detained include Gladys Kaari Justus, a mobile money agent, Joel Ng’ang’a Wainaina and Oliver Kanyago Muthee, both taxi drivers, Guleid Abdihakim, a Canadian and Osmas Ibrahim.
Some of the suspects were arrested on Wednesday morning as the police raided houses suspected to have been used by the terrorists as hideouts. Gichunge, who was described as a quiet man, loved his car, cats and music, only interacted with his butcher and wife, Violet Kemunto Omwoyo. But beneath that veneer of innocence lay a schemer, who used the car he drove regularly to storm the 14 Riverside Drive complex in Nairobi.
The car, a Toyota Ractis, was rigged with a bomb, which was later detonated by bomb experts at the parking yard of the complex. Neighbours described him as a heavily built middle-aged man of fair complexion, who liked to shave his head clean, but kept a long beard, which he had dyed brown. They knew him as Farouk, who regularly blared Kenyan urban pop music in his car. They said the car had an unmuffl ed exhaust system which gave its engine a loud roar.
A month ago, Gichunge took his car to get a skull branded on its rear. Marlon Omondi, the owner of 23 Marketing Concepts in Nairobi, said the killer sent the design he wanted.
“He found us online and told us he had knocked his car’s rear and wanted to hide the dent,” Marlon told the Kenyan press. “He said he wanted a skull and he sent us the one he wanted through a link on Pinterest.”
On Monday, just a few hours to the attack, Gichunge and Kemunto put all their household items on Facebook for sale at Ksh100,000 (about sh3.65m), saying they were planning to “move out of Nairobi this week