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Police in Kenya say they have mistakenly released a terror suspect wanted in connection with planned attacks in Australia, though there are rumors that a bribe was paid for his freedom. Three Kenyan police and two businessmen have been arrested in connection.
Hussein Hashi Farah was detained this month by Kenyan authorities after crossing into the country from Uganda at the border town of Busia on an Australian passport. The BBC reports that border police conducting a check on the man found his name on an international terror watch list due to “credible information” linking him to a 2009 terror plot against targets in Australia.
"I think there was an oversight – he was handed over to the ordinary duty policemen and they were not given the full information," [spokesman Eric Kiraithehe] said.... "The matter is still under investigation, although the officer who released believes that he released him in an honest and mistaken belief that he was just an illegal migrant who would be dealt with by CID and immigration the following day."
But Australian broadcaster ABC reports it may have been more than an oversight. They say “it is rumored” that a bribe was paid to free Mr. Farah.
Officials in Australia have so far commented on neither Farah’s release nor bribery rumors, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Herald says that Farah was initially detained on March 13 and is suspected of being a “senior member” of Al Shabaab, the Islamist militia that governs much of Somalia and is considered a terrorist group by Australia and other Western countries.
Its ties to international militants were confirmed just last month by none other than Al Shabaab itself. On Feb. 1 the group issued a statement in Somali and Arabic officially announcing its alignment with Al Qaeda, as the Monitor reported.
This is not the first time in recent memory Kenya has had problems with the nuts and bolts of counterterror work. In January police arrested Abdullah al Faisal, a “radical Jamaican cleric” on a terrorism watch list, when he entered the country from Tanzania. Efforts to deport him sparked “riots” from Kenyan Muslims. He was deported on Jan. 21.
What happens now? Farah is believed to have returned to Uganda, but news website AllAfrica.com reports that police in Busia have, so far unsuccessfully, been trying to track him and any possible accomplices.
So far they have suspended and arrested three police officers on duty that day, as well as two businessmen who visited Farah during his short stay in jail.
It is alleged that the terror suspect claimed that he was asthmatic and was put in an isolated room where he met the two businessmen, who had brought him food. Police found Farah missing when they went to fetch him so he could be transferred to Nairobi for interrogation by anti-terrorism unit officers.