Three suspected members of Al-Shabaab who were arrested in possession of mobile phones and several SIM cards of the victims of the Mandera twin terror attacks have been remanded for two weeks to allow police complete investigations.
Senior Principal Magistrate Ellena Nderitu directed the three Musa Hassan, Maslah Hassan and Shukri Salat be remanded for 14 days.
“After considering the prosecution’s application, there is need for further investigations to establish how the victims’ mobile phones came into possession of the suspects. I direct they remain in custody until police complete probe into their alleged involvement in the attacks,” said SPM Ellena Nderitu .
She directed the three, who are believed to be Somali nationals, to remain in custody until February 19, when the court is going to issue further directions on whether they will plead to terror-related charges.
Through a Somali interpreter, Prosecutor Isiah Mwiranga told the court that the three are linked to the December 2, 2014 terror attack on a Mandera-bound bus in which 24 died and the quarry massacre on December 22 in which 64 people died.
Mwiranga said the suspects, who were arrested on January 29 are believed to be Al-Shabaab members. He said they are believed to be working closely with the alleged mastermind of Mandera attacks Salim Abubakar Kitonga, who is already in custody awaiting to be charged. He also noted the suspects are believed to be directly connected to the frequent terror attacks in Mandera.
Two days ago, the court allowed police to continue detaining Salim Kitonga who is alleged to have masterminded two Mandera massacres in which 64 people were killed. Kitonga is said to have sneaked in explosives into the country. He is also suspected of recruiting agents for terror group al Shabaab.
A suspect believed to be a mastermind of the recent attacks in Mandera County was also arraigned before a Nairobi court three days ago.
Abubakar Saalim Kitonga did not however plead to any charge after investigators asked the court to detain him for a further 30 days.
Kitonga is linked to attacks on a bus and another at a quarry that left at least 60 people dead.
The investigators say Kitonga is believed to be an al-Shabaab agent based in Mandera responsible for recruiting and organising movement of the militia in and out of the country to execute attacks
Senior Principal Magistrate Ellena Ndiritu was told that investigators will head back to Mandera with the suspect, Western and Eastern Kenya where he traces his roots.
The court allowed the investigators to detain Kitonga for a further 14 days but will grant them a chance to apply for more time if they are unable to conclude investigations within that period.
The terror suspect has also been implicated in the spate of other attacks in the Northeastern region.
Police said they have evidence linking Kitonga to the planning of the two attacks in Mandera and other terrorist activities.
The 30-year-old suspect is reported to have been living in a mosque within Mandera town, where he was arrested and taken to the regional police headquarters in a covert operation