Skip to main content

Kenya police arrest two over 'terror plot' linked to Iran

Kenyan police chief says ring recruited in Iran was aiming to mount terror attacks in Nairobi, targeting locals and 'Western interests'
Kenyan police officers standing in the capital Nairobi on 27 November 2015 (AFP)

Kenyan police have arrested two men who were allegedly recruited by an Iranian group accused of plotting terror attacks in the east African nation, the police chief said on Saturday.

Police chief Joseph Boinett said they believed the two Kenyan men had travelled to Iran several times, identifying them as Abubakar Sadiq Louw, 69, and Yassin Sambai Juma. Kenyan media gave his age as 25. 

"We have irrefutable evidence they were recruited into an Iranian spying ring," he told reporters in the capital Nairobi, indicating that other unidentified security agencies had helped "uproot this network".

"The mission of that ring was to mount terror attacks in this city, not only targeting Western interests but targeting our people as well."

Louw was recruited "a number of years ago" and had been instructed to "recruit other Kenyans into the network", including Juma, with the pair making "a number of trips to Iran in which they met their handlers" and where they had been "given targets and given money."

Police gave no further details about the alleged Iranian group the men were linked to.

The announcement was made a day after Pope Francis ended a three-day visit to Kenya, where security was a major concern.

In May 2013, a Kenyan court sentenced two Iranians to life in prison for terror-related charges, including possessing explosives allegedly to be used in bomb attacks.

Ahmed Mohammed, 50, and Sayed Mansour, 51, were found guilty of possessing 15 kilos (33 pounds) of the powerful explosive RDX, which police found hidden in a hole on a golf course. 

At the time, the court said they were believed to have links to a network planning bombings in Nairobi and the eastern port of Mombasa, the country's second largest city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of plotting anti-Israeli attacks in Kenya.

Israeli businesses in Kenya have been targeted in the past, including the al-Qaeda-claimed bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa in 2002, in which 18 people died, as well as a failed missile strike on an Israeli charter plane at the same time.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.