Kenyan police say they have uncovered a plot to launch a “large-scale attack” using anthrax by what is thought to be the country’s first home-grown terrorist cell with links to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
A medical intern at a hospital in the east of the country has been detained and his wife, a fellow medic, was arrested in Uganda, along with another woman. Two other men, also medical interns in Kenyan hospitals, have gone into hiding, said police, who have offered a $20,000 reward for their capture.
Joseph Boinnet, Kenya’s police chief, alleged that the man in custody, Mohammed Abdi Ali, had recruited Isil fighters and plotted to stage attacks in Kenya. The suspects were planning large scale attacks akin to the Westgate Mall attack [in which 67 people died in September 2013] with the intention of killing innocent Kenyans,” said Mr Boinnet. He said Mr Ali’s network ” also included medical experts with whom they planned to unleash a biological attack in Kenya using anthrax” and were engaged in ” the active radicalisation” of students as well as helping to recruit Kenyans “to join terror groups in Libya and Syria”.
Western security sources say the latest arrests are indicative of a growing influence by and presence of ISIL-linked militants in East Africa who are separate to al-Shabaab.
A human rights group said however that Kenyan security forces – who have been criticised for their heavy-handed approach – could be involved in the disappearance of the two wanted medics and came up with the terror plot as a cover story. Al- Amin Kimathi, a human rights activist, said he believed his enquiry about their safety had prompted the police statement.