National intelligence Service building Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, officers from four units of Kenya’s counter-terrorism apparatus admitted the police assassinate suspects on government orders. An Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) officer said the order comes from Kenya’s National Security Council: “It comprises of the President, Deputy President, Chief of the Defence Forces, Inspector General of Police, NSIS Director, Cabinet Secretary of Interior, and the Principal Secretary Interior. Any decision is made within that club of people”. President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Security Council members denied running an extrajudicial killing programme.
Western complicity
Britain provides training, equipment and intelligence to the units, according to the officers. A General Service Unit (GSU) Recce Company officer explained: “Once they give you the training, that is all. They go back to their country and they leave us to do our work”. Israel conducts more specific training, according to a GSU Radiation Unit officer: “We get some instructors from Israel”, he said, “how to eliminate. Actually it’s one of the training”. The head of the International Bar Association warned the alleged complicity of these countries could violate international law. Mark Ellis said: “It’s clear based on these interviews that there's at least prima facie evidence to suggest that these third party countries are involved and therefore they all have responsibility to investigate”. Britain and Israel denied involvement and the UK Foreign Office said it had “raised concerns” with Kenya over the “serious allegations”.
“We get some instructors from Israel, how to eliminate. Actually it’s one of the training.”  - GSU Radiation Unit officer


Eliminate and we have peace
Abubaker Shariff Ahmed was a controversial Muslim radical known as Makaburi. Despite being charged under Kenya’s terrorism laws, he was never convicted. In April he was gunned down outside a Mombasa court. Human Rights groups claim he was one of 21 Muslim radicals allegedly killed by police since 2012. The officers admitted for the first time to killing Makaburi. “Makaburi was killed by the police”, explained one officer, “That execution was planned in Nairobi by very top high ranking police officers and government officials”. Another added: “The Government did it, yeah. This is the person who’s bringing trouble here. Let us eliminate and we have peace”.
The Gunman - Radiation Unit
Western intelligence drives eliminations
Al Jazeera has exclusively obtained confidential police reports, which purport to show Makaburi had extensive links to Somali militant group al Shabab and had planned and financed bombings in Kenya. The officers claim the intelligence, which drives the government’s “elimination programme”, is supplied by Western security agencies. The GSU Recce Company officer said: “Once they give us the information, they know what they have told us, it is ABCD; ‘Mr. Jack’ is involved in ‘such and such’ a kind of activity. Tomorrow he’s no longer there. We have worked. Definitely the report that you gave us has been ‘worked on’.” Lawyer Mark Ellis suggests the alleged Western intelligence sharing with Kenya could result in a criminal investigation. “If there are individuals that are found to be not just training, but actually found to have been directing, supervising, targeting individuals, that in turn would be targeted in a killing, then there is a criminal responsibility”. Ellis added: “We should stop providing any type of assistance or training to police units in Kenya until there is a clear change… in how the Kenyan authorities deal with suspects”.
Judiciary too weak
The police have failed to produce strong enough evidence to prosecute terror suspects, with only one conviction recorded. The officers say Kenya’s weak judicial system forces them to resort to assassinations. “You take him to court, then you find that the next day, he has been bailed out”, explained a National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) officer. “You arrest him another time, take him to court. Acquittal. So you just have the elimination method”, added the ATPU officer. The GSU Recce Company officer agreed: “If the law cannot work, there’s another option… Eliminate him”.
The Cop - Anti-Terrorism Police Unit
I’ve killed over 50 The officers admitted to personally killing suspects. The GSU Radiation Unit officer reluctantly confessed: “It is many. It is many. I think with my colleagues, [I’ve killed] around eight. It is not even a subject to address”. More forthcoming, the GSU Recce Company officer explained: “Since I was employed, I’ve killed over fifty. Definitely, I do become proud because I’ve eliminated some problems”. Police eliminations, according to the ATPU officer, could run into the hundreds every year: “Day in, day out, you hear of eliminating suspects. We have the police itself. We have special units like GSU. So not a total, but you can say about almost 500”. If the police kill somebody by mistake, one officer claims, the death squads plant evidence to make the victim appear like a terror suspect. “Okay, you never wanted to kill that person, but accidentally, you have done it. What are you going to do? The person is gone. You will not bring him back”, he added, “some do place some kind of evidence by placing some pistols, guns beside them once they have been killed”. A Kenyan National Police spokesman refused to comment on the allegations.
Relatives of five Kenyan youths found murdered in a forest have told Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit the police are using the "War on Terror" to kill with impunity. In April five young people were watching football at a bar in the mountain town of Nyeri. As they left, witnesses reported an altercation with police. The group were arrested and driven away. Hours later barmaid Martha Wairimu was found hanging from a tree in nearby Tagwa Forest. At her feet lay the bodies of four boys, Kelvin Kihuri, Yusuf Mohamed, Mohamed Kaburu and Simon King’ori – all shot in the head. The families are convinced the police executed them. Mother of Yusuf Mohamed, Mariamu Wanjiru said: “Why did my son have to die? I just want to know the truth.”
“They were taken from a club… They were actually taken to a police station and then not booked in, taken to a forest and shot dead”. Al Shabab Links
Media reports quoted “security sources” which suggested the youths had links to al Shabab and this was why they were taken away. The police have denied having any involvement in the¬ killings, but former General Service Unit (GSU) officer George Musamali is aware of another story. He said: “They were taken from a club… They were actually taken to a police station and then not booked in, taken to a forest and shot dead”. Jane Karangi claimed her relative, Kelvin, had no militant links: “I don't think that he knew about al Shabab. He’s never been into Somalia. He has just stayed here his whole life”. Simon King’ori’s father, Patrick, said the al Shabab story is untrue: “That is a scapegoat, to those who did the action. They are trying to escape by saying that they went to Somalia. Mother of Mohamed Kaburu, Saidah Kaburu agreed: “They used al Shabab as an excuse for the death of these children. It was a pure lie”.
Killings directed by police Former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, wrote a report following hundreds of deaths after the 2007 Kenya elections. His investigation delivered a damning indictment of the Kenyan Police and he is unsurprised by the Nyeri deaths. “The police had a great liking of the forests. They would often take people out there in order to shoot them”, he said, “They were not what one might call discriminating. “A lot of the killings were simply casual, accidental. Someone that you arrest, someone who won’t pay a bribe, someone who gets in the way of a cop who’s running a bar. Just dispose of the people”. He found that the police frequently used “unlawful force”. “The conclusion I reached was that killing was widespread, that it was basically part of the way in which the police force operated, that it wasn’t just tolerated by the senior police but directed by them”.
Dangerous for ordinary citizens
Human Rights groups claim extrajudicial killings have become a common theme in Kenya. Haki Africa has documented 21 suspected police killings of radical Muslims since 2012. Haki’s Hussein Khalid said: “Extrajudicial killings have been happening at an alarming rate… They’ve become so normal… that the government does not feel in any way that this is something we need to address. “We see those killings happening within our communities almost on a daily basis”. University of Warwick Professor of African History, David Anderson, warned the current situation is extremely “dangerous” for Kenyans. “The current war that Kenya is involved in gives all of the security agencies the blanket cover that they are doing this because of that war”, he said, “that blanket cover excuses any explanation at all and it’s a very dangerous thing for ordinary citizens”.
Killing with impunity
In June 2013, suspected al Shabab insurgent Salim Nero was arrested. He was taken back to his home handcuffed and surrounded by Police. “They started beating me until I moved out of the way. They ordered me to wait in the sitting room. They started questioning me”, explained Nero’s wife Rahema, “I heard a gunshot. After they killed him, they told me ‘let's go and see your husband we have killed him’.” The police later claimed Nero had been armed and had been killed during a shoot-out. Rahema said he owned no weapons. An ATPU officer told us: “They were even shot in front of their families. They were targeted, identified, and eliminated”. When pressed on if police killed him in self-defence, he replied: “It’s not true”. Nero’s case is all too familiar, according to Philip Alston: “That’s standard operating procedure. The so-called shootout scenario where you set it up to make it look as though someone who you have executed was involved in a shootout with the police”. “In order to do that, it’s better to have a weapon that you’ve confiscated from somewhere else to leave beside the body”. Hussein Khalid agreed: “The police will tell them that was a suspected terrorist. We found one gun and two rounds of ammunition. That’s it. You’re already labeled as a suspected terrorist. “Unfortunately, this is what the fight against terrorism is using now to further violate rights with impunity”.
“Why did my son have to die? I just want to know the truth.” - Mariamu Wanjiru, Mother of Yusuf Mohamed
Confidential Kenyan police documents have been leaked to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, which purport to show the intelligence that drove the police to “eliminate” him. In November 2013 Muslim radical Abubaker Shariff Ahmed or Makaburi told Al Jazeera that he thought his life was “in danger” and that the Kenyan police would kill him. He said: “The Recce Squad, which is a GSU squad in Nairobi. Those are the guys who are doing these killings all over Kenya. They have been given immunity from prosecution. So what they’re doing is, they’re cleansing. Whoever is a potential threat should be killed”. In just six months his fate was sealed. The Kenyan officers we spoke to confessed to the killing of Makaburi. Kenya’s government denies the existence of an extrajudicial killing programme. Makaburi files
During our investigation Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit was leaked confidential police reports, alleging that Makaburi had links to al Shabab and had planned and financed bombings in Kenya. His name was first mentioned in August 2011, just after his friend Sheikh Aboud Rogo had been killed. In the document marked “Situation Report” and with a header “Office of the President”, it suggested Makaburi had been in touch with the former al Shabab leader. It stated: “Makaburi, has through a Somali based contact, sent an appeal to al Shabab leader Sheikh Abdi Godane Mohamed aka Abu Zubeyr, for assistance to the Kenyan Muslims claiming they are currently under siege”. It alluded to him being sanctioned by the UN Security Council and claimed he was a leading recruiter of young Kenyan Muslims for violent militant activities in Somalia. It stated: “Ahmed has preached at mosques in Mombasa that young men should travel to Somalia, commit extremist acts, fight for al Qaeda and kill US citizens”.
“The Recce Squad, which is a GSU squad in Nairobi. Those are the guys who are doing these killings all over Kenya. They have been given immunity from prosecution. So what they’re doing is, they’re cleansing. Whoever is a potential threat should be killed”.  - Makaburi
Makaburi bomb plans Makaburi was accused of preparing attacks in Kenya in a “security brief” dated 12 February 2013. In it is said he and two other men were “coordinating movement of weapons” from refugee camps to Majengo. “Makaburi is likely to bomb a building in SABA SABA area of Mombasa that houses Police officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)”, it stated.
Kenyan leader of al Shabab
Months later, another security brief entitled “Al Shabab activities” the security services highlighted that he had become the Kenyan leader of the Somali militant group. It stated: “Makaburi has declared himself the Amir of all the operatives in Kenya and has directed that all groups be directly answered to him”. These intelligence briefs were distributed to senior police officers in Kenya but the source of the raw information is not divulged. Politicians have been known to ‘leak’ selective intelligence to the public or police forces in order to gain support for political actions.. In 2003, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of ‘Sexing up’ intelligence in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. And that may be the case with the Makaburi files. In June 2013, despite having a travel ban, UN sanctions and practically being under house arrest, Makaburi was accused of travelling to Somalia. In the report it stated: “Makaburi has returned from Somalia and commenced surveillance on churches for terror attacks during the night prayers (keshas) on unspecified dates”. It added that a special death squad was earmarked for the attacks: “The attacks are to be carried out by a group of Somalia based al Shabab hit squad known as ‘Mike One’ supported by local operatives”.
“Makaburi was killed by the police. That execution was planned in Nairobi by very top high ranking police officers and government officials”.  - Counter-terrorism officer Assassinations ordered
In March 2014, just weeks before his own death, Makaburi was accused of “ordering the assassinations” of moderate Imams in Kenya. It stated: “He has directed that Sheikh ************ mosque alongside Sheikh ***************** mosque, both members of the Supreme Council of Imams and Preacher of Kenya (CIPK) and who are perceived to be moderate, be assassinated for alleged betrayal of the ‘Muslim’ cause”. The confidential police brief which had a “Senior Assistant Commissioner” police stamp on the header stated that Makaburi was a “possible financier of radicalisation” and had links to “other al Qaeda outfits in the region”. It claimed he supported the hoisting of the Shabab flag at Masjid Musa Mosque and received updates from contacts on the ground during recent skirmishes. Incitement of death Makaburi was killed on 1 April 2014 and the officers we spoke to admitted the police had killed him. That same month a police situation report was sent out claiming al Shabab leaders were “infuriated by the death of Abubaker Shariff alias Makaburi”. Even in his death, Makaburi incited violence, according to the report: “They have vowed to carry out revenge attacks countrywide, but more specifically in Nairobi and Mombasa. They plan to attack Christian congregations and also kidnap Aid workers and moderate Muslim opinion leaders”.
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