At least 300 Kenyan youths who had joined terror group Al-Shabaab have surrendered to Kenyan authorities, the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) has said.
Speaking in Mombasa, Canon Harun Rashid from NCTC said that a multi-agency team has been working over the last six months to bring the youths home, most of whom are aged 30 years and below.
“The government has profiled and is now guiding them so that they don’t to slide back to terror activities. This has been made possible by engaging several civil society organisations (CSOs), which have initiated reform programmes for the benefit of the returnees,” said Canon Rashid.
The Al-Shabaab had lured the youths, mostly from the coast region, with the aim of using them to stage attacks in Kenya since they would blend well with the local communities.
Canon Rashid revealed that in the last few years, several youths had been crossing to Somalia to join the terror group, a trend that has been reversed through the programme.
“We are doing quite well. We used to see lots of youths being lured to join terror groups in Somalia and many would cross the border almost every day but of late the number has really gone down, courtesy of this initiative,” he said.
CSOs involved in the returnees’ reintegration programme include Mombasa Women of Faith Network, Haki Africa and Kecosce, which have been working under the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.
Nyali Deputy County Commissioner Harun Kamau has urged Kenyan youths who had joined the group to come back home and surrender.
“We shall continue to follow up and bring back as many youths as possible from the terror groupings,” said Mr Kamau.