WASHINGTON — A Kenyan judicial court charged 70 people for their membership of the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab, whose hold on Somalia has weakened in recent months.
Reuters reported that the accused members deny any ties to the Somali Islamist group after being rounded up by Kenyan police. al-Shabab has ties to al-Qaeda.
The police raid took place at a Muslim mosque and ended up starting riots in the city of Mombasa. Those who were charged with being members of the terrorist group face charges of terrorism, possession of arms, robbery, as well as incitement to violence.
Kenya is worried about al-Shabab after a brutal attack on civilians at a prominent mall frequented by Westerners. The Kenyan government blamed al-Shabab for the terrorist attack on the mall, which lasted for three days and killed at least 72 civilians.
The police made the sweep based on information that the mosque is recruiting young Muslim youths to participate in attacks against Kenya and other neighboring countries of Somalia. Three people were killed in the raid on the mosque and the police announced they recovered evidence of al-Shabab ties, such as an AK 47 rifle, ammunition, objects like swords and knives and even flags or symbols of al-Shabab.
129 people were originally rounded up, but 21 were released because they were minors and other 33 people were released due to insufficient evidence of al-Shabab ties.