Security forces in Kilifi are looking for three al Shabaab recruiters who are behind a syndicate luring youths to join the terror gang in Somalia.
The three Mohamed Ali, Abdalla Shekue and Yusuf Ali allegedly coordinated a plan to recruit 13 youths unknowingly to join the al Shabaab in Somalia.
The thirteen recruits including 11 from Magarini Sub County and two from Lamu were rescued by Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) in Somalia after spending one month in the war tone country.
They were flown to Malindi from Kiunga at the Kenya Somali border on Monday evening and have so far united with their families.
Kilifi county commissioner Magu Mutindika said the three suspects offered the 13 youths lucrative fishing job in Somalia and gave them Sh 5,000 before they took off for Somalia.
Speaking during the official handing over of the ‘returnees’ to their parents at the Malindi Police station, Mutindika said two of the suspects are from Kilifi while one is from Lamu.
“There was no fishing job it was recruitment, they have changed tactics, the youths were given money before leaving,’’ he said.
The returnees are aged between 18 and 38 years.
After being recruited Ali reportedly handed the unsuspecting youths to Abdalla Shekue a boat owner in Kiunga who took them to Somalia.
Mutindika said the returnees were recruited on March 26, 2018, and KDF managed to rescue them on April 29 after some reported to their families and the matter brought to the attention of security personnel.
While in Somalia the youths were handed over to Yusuf Ali on the pretext that they were going to go fishing.
During their one month stay in Somalia, the boys moved from Mdoa to Bula Haji with the intention to be recruited into al Shabaab activities.
Some of the parents who spoke to journalists at the Police station said they learnt of their journey a day before they left claiming they had got a well-paying fishing job.
Mwalimu Katana from Sabaki in Magarini said his son told him they were going fishing but after two weeks he began sending messages that they were suffering in Somalia.
He, however, said his son did not reveal the nature of suffering they were facing prompting them to report to the Police station.
Another parent said they had even seen one of the suspects on Monday still walking scot-free in Marereni.
Loice Jumwa Kiraga from Marereni could not hide her joy upon seeing her son.
“The messages they were bringing home were not pleasant we thank god they are back safe,’’ she said.
The County Commissioner said the returnees will undergo counselling from National counterterrorism centre due to what they went through in Somalia.