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Archive for December 23rd, 2008

Posted by African Press International on December 23, 2008

News Analysis by Leo Odera Omolo

Last months terror attacks in Mumbai ,India has triggered a high degree of alertness within the Western diplomatic circles and local security agencies within the eastern and southern African regions of Africa.

Within being the most popular terrorist destination and currently hosting tens of thousands of tourists from the United states and European countries, security antennae have been raised to defeat possible signs of terror attack in the making on Western targets in the country.

The influential Nairobi weekly newspaper , the SUNDAY NATION made a puzzling revelation that only last week police in Kenya had arrested two foreigners who were found trying to sell 9kgs of a substance reported to be highly radioactive uranium that is used in the manufacture of explosives and possible atomic bombs.

These arrests come about a month after a man who was carrying 6,000 electronic detectors was picked up by a police off a public passenger vehicles, a country bus bound for Wajir Town, in the remote North Eastern Province.

The fate of the suspect is yet to be known, but its widely believed the man is still in the police custody for interrogation and further investigations.

At the Kenya-Uganda border crossing port at the Busia Town in Western Province a terror suspect who had previously been deported out of Kenya was arrested three weeks ago as he tried to sneak back to the country.

According to the SUNDAY NATION, the man was immediately detained and transferred to Nairobi for further investigations about his motive.

And early this month, two people were apprehended by police for reportedly carrying out what seemed to be surveillance of the Danish Embassy in Nairobi. The fate of the suspect is yet to be known.

The terror alert and the heightened vigilance were sparked by a recent memo from the commissioner for customs Mrs Wambui Namu last October cautioning all Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) regional managers on the danger posed by Al-Qaeda bands through fugitive Harun Fazul Mohammed who had narrowly escaped police dragnet in both Malindi and Mombasa Towns in the coastal region of Kenya.

In the memo dated October 15, 2008 Mrs. Namu said the terrorists were planning to attack vital installation ad western-interests in both Kenya and Uganda.

Among the suspected targets, she named were petrol station, petroleum carrying tankers and airports.

The threats calls for high alert and concerted efforts at all major ports, the commissioner of customs was quoted as having warned.

A spokesman of the Kenya Police Erick Kiraithe according to the paper had downplayed the reported threats saying the police force was always in a state of high alertness concerning security threats.

The Sunday paper also quoted an official of the American Embassy in Nairobi as saying that they have not been put on nay special alert. we have not received any notification on terror but of course we have our own concerns about security in Nairobi mission, the official said.

Despite details, security around the British High Commission in the Kenyan Capital suburbs of upper Hill neighborhood has been beefed up with the recent introduction of police surveillance and vigorous checks on the road behind the diplomatic mission in addition to the permanent police checks in front of the building and its environs.

At the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) security has been beefed up with a thorough search of all the vehicles going to the busy airport.

Heightened security is also evidence at major city hotels where more screening machines have now stalled.

As was the case in Mumbai, India where areas frequented by western tourists were targeted, an alert is also out to those guarding similar facilities in Kenya.

A similar alert is said to have been raised just a couple of days before the US Embassy in downtown Nairobi was bombed by Alqaeda terrorists 10 years ago.

December and January always make up the high terrorists seasons in Kenya when visitors escape the harsh winter in Europe and the Americas fro Kenyas sunny beaches and wildlife sanctuaries.

Fears about terror attack are fuelled by rhetoric of Islamic Courts Union leaders about Kenya plan to train Somali Transitional Government soldiers.

Fears also follow increased pirate activities along the Somali coastline in the Indian Ocean and activities of Al-Shabalab, the Somalia wing of Al-Qaeda in Somaliland and Pundiland.

The anti-terrorism police boss in Kenya Mrs. Nicholas Kamwende while declining to discuss measures put in place, only hinted that his unit was well equipped and ready for nay eventualities.

There is no course for alarm as far as terror attack on Kenya is concerned Mr.Kamwende was further quoted as saying


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Posted by African Press International on December 23, 2008

LEBANON-SYRIA: Political thaw puts spotlight on the missing

Photo: Lucy Fielder/IRIN
Zahira Najjar last saw her teenage son Abdallah in 1982

BEIRUT, 17 December 2008 (IRIN) – It was the summer of 1982 when Zahira Najjar, 66, last saw her son Abdallah, then 17 years old.

The family was in Bhamdoun, a mountain resort east of Beirut, at the height of Lebanons 15-year civil war. Only Syrian forces were on the ground when Abdullah went to find transport to the capital to get his wounded leg seen to, Najjar said.

She has seen and heard nothing of him since. I cant describe my feelings. A mothers heart cries blood, Najjar said, pulling a black-and-white photograph of the youth from her wallet. But we live in hope. May God have mercy on the mothers and families of the missing.

Abdallah is one of 643 victims of enforced disappearance on a list drawn up by the NGO Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile (SOLIDE) and based on family testimonies.

Most were detained by Syrian forces during the 1975-1990 civil war, the group says, or handed over by allied Lebanese and Palestinian militias, to disappear into Syrian jails. A few were detained by the Lebanese or Syrian military during the 1990s, when Syrian forces dominated Lebanon.

Some disappeared after civil war

''We saw seven prisoners going past about 200 metres away with their eyes covered and one looked like him, but I cant be sure. They were like sheep, chained together, and he was pushed with a rifle butt.''

Since the end of the Civil War in 1990, Sonia Eid has sought to learn the fate of her son Jihad, a fighter with General Michel Aoun, who rose against the Syrians at the tail-end of the war. She discovered at the time he had been taken to the “Palestine Branch” intelligence headquarters in Damascus.

In 2002 she was among a group of mothers who were permitted to go there. We saw seven prisoners going past about 200 metres away with their eyes covered and one looked like him, but I cant be sure, she says. They were like sheep, chained together, and he was pushed with a rifle butt.

But Syrian promises to examine the file came to nothing and the trail went cold.

Its a nightmare were living, a disaster, Eid said. I have faith that Jihad is coming back. I have the feeling hes still with us.

Syrian forces pulled out in 2005 under intense pressure following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, which many in Lebanon and the West blamed on Syria. Damascus denies involvement.

We know for sure there are Lebanese still alive in Syrian prisons, said Ghazi Aad, co-founder of SOLIDE, at the groups weekly sit-in in downtown Beirut. After 2005 things have changed. We have to close this file.

SOLIDE has had a few successes – the release of 121 detainees from Syrian prisons in March 1998 and a further 54 in December 2000, but has made little progress over the past eight years.

Diplomatic ties

Photo: Hugh Macleod/IRIN
The Syrian army intervened in Lebanons Civil War in 1976, a year after it started, and withdrew from Lebanon in April 2005. Most missing Lebanese were detained by Syrian forces during the war and disappeared in Syrian jails

Syria and Lebanon established diplomatic ties in mid-October 2008 for the first time since the neighbours became independent from French rule in the 1940s. Ambassadors have not yet been exchanged.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem angered many Lebanese by saying since the victims families had waited so long, they could wait a few more weeks. But he also said the issue was key to better relations, in what SOLIDEs Aad called unprecedented official acknowledgment that the Lebanese missing were in Syrias jails. Its a first step. But it should trigger a future investigation, not just talks, he said.

Syrian officials have said they would launch their own investigation into the whereabouts of nearly 800 Syrians they say have disappeared in Lebanon, but nothing of the inquiry has been made public.

A committee formed in June 2005 meets regularly at the border to exchange information. It has the power to collect information from those who come forward, but not to seek witnesses and investigate, Aad said. SOLIDE is calling for representatives of the missing peoples families and concerned NGOs to join the committee, and for an expansion of its mandate. But Aad said Justice Ministry officials recently told him the Syrian side had rejected the proposal.

A Lebanese Justice Ministry source could neither confirm nor deny SOLIDE estimates of the number of missing, but said the committee was gathering information. Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar said in August that Lebanon was asking Syria to reveal the fate of 745 citizens missing in Syria.

Resolving it depends on the Syrians, the source told IRIN. At least now we know there are people alive in (Syrian) prisons.

Cautious optimism

Legal expert and justice editor for the independent, pro-opposition Al-Akhbar daily, Omar Nashabe, expressed cautious optimism, saying Novembers visit by Lebanese Interior Minister Ziad Baroud to Damascus had created a positive atmosphere.

But its insufficient. There needs now to be judicial coordination – that would be the way forward, Nashabe said, adding he hoped that would happen before the end of the year.


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Figthing to ge a share of the Obamas: The proposed Obama Snr museum has caused a big split in the family of the US President-elect right in the miiddle.

Posted by African Press International on December 23, 2008

Reports Leo Odera Omolo

The much touted proposal made recently by the Kenya government to construct a Kshs 5 million museum at the Alego-Kogelo hom of the late Barrack Obama Snr has degenerated a lot of controversy and appeared to have caused a big split in the family of the US President elect.

The spirited argument has been put up by a group claiming to be relatives of the late Barrack Obama Snr who lives in Kanyadhiang village, Central Karachunyo location, Rachuonyo district, the undisputed birth place of the late top economist Mr. Barrack Obama Snr, the father of the US president-elect have come out fire-spitting saying they are vehemently opposed to the idea of such project being undertaken in Kogelo.

In what looks like a major struggle for identification of the Obama,s ancestral roots in Kenya ever since the president-elect Barrack Obama jnr comfortably won the US presidential elections on November 4th, 2008, people claiming to be genuine relatives of the Obamas from Karachonyo have said there was more of Obama family history in Kanyadhiang village than in Nyangoma, Alego Kogelo in Siaya district.

Kanyadhiang village, is located about eight miles south of Kendu-Bay town.This is the undisputed brith place of the late Barrack Obama Snr, who is the father of the US president elect. Some elderly relatives, who witnessed the late Obamas birth in 1936 are still alive and healthy, and willing to testify against any attempt to built a \museum in his owner in Kogelo about 100km away.

Information which was availed to this writer revealed that the Obamas ancestors had settled in Kanyadhiang in the 19th Century. Nobody is in the know-how as to where they had migrated from before settling at Kanyadhiang. And the late Obama Snr, is the fourth generation within the Obamas family tree line said to have lived at Kanyadhiang

The first elders to settle at Kanyadhiang were two brothers Opiyo and Nyagwala. The time of their arrival in the village is considered to be around 1886. Opiyo is said tobe the father of Obama {1} who became the father of Husseing Onyango Obama, and it was Hussein Onyango a former British Colonial cooke who father the late Barrack Obama Snr in 1936.

The first descendant of the Obama who is believed to have moved out of Kanyadhiang and traveled back to Alego Kogelo in the late 1930s was one called Ndalo. Hussein Onyango Obama remained in Kanyadhiang with his family until the lady luck struck the family.

Two incidences is believed to have occurred. The first one, Hussein Onyango Obama was divorced by his first wife Akumu doughter of Njoga from the neighbouring Karabondi village within the same locality. Akumu left his with three children Barrack Obama Snr, and two daughters and got married to another Luo sub-clan on the ground of excessive cruelty on the part of Hussein, who had just returned after serving the British colonial masters as a cooke in the coastal tport town of Mombasa and the neighbiouruing Zanzibar Island where he had converted himself to Islam As the two (Hussein and Akumu) parted the company, Hussein got married to the 87 year old Sarah, who is the step grand mother of the US president elect and in whose homestead, the late Barrack Obama Snr remains is buried.

Between 1936 and 1940 Hussein Obama was the captain or manager of kanyadhiang Football Team, which was too good in local football derby.. It happened when the late Mzee Paul Mboya was then the colonial chief of the entire Karachuonyo Location. The Kanyadhiang team was involved in a local football tournament. The team headed by Hussein Obama beat another team from neighbouring, but dominant Kogweno sub-clan in the final match, Kogweno was the sub-clan of the colonial chief Mboya, who ruled the area with an iron fist, and was the darling of the British colonialists.

The chief defiantly refused to hand over the trophy after his clans team had been beaten by a margin of 4-1 by the Kanyadhiang team which was captained by the late Hussein Onyango Obama. The chief was known to be so authoritative and a dictator . Nobody questioned his rulings. But the late Hussein Onyango Obama, the father of Barack Obama Snr, forced his way to the chiefs house and forcefully seized the trophy, which he handed to house victorious team, to the chagrin of the Chief.

In retaliation, the Chief ordered some youths to invade the late Hussein Onyango Obama ultra modern house, which was built of Makuti roof, the only one of its kind in the are at the time.. The Chiefs reasoning was that Obama was an immigrant and not the indigenous man of the locality, but an immigrant settler in the area common called in Dho-Luo language {Jodak}.or sojourners.

The invasion of his beautiful house angered the late Hussein Onyango Obama who decided to move out of Kanyadhiang with his entire family and followed his cousin Ndolo to Alego Kogelo, where he settled and where his son the late Barrack Obama Snr and his other siblings grew up.

The late Chief Paul Mboya later served as the first African Secretary of the African Local Native Council{ALNC} and later African District Council of South Nyanza{ADC} for many years before it was transformed into the County Council of South Nyanza in 1961 and have its areas of jurisdiction split into with one part remaining in Kisii region and the other moving to the newly crated South Nyanza district, which was mainly serving the Luoland. He retired in 1962 of old age, but after clinching several coveted awards by the British Colonial Office in London, which included MBE and OBE medals.

And in surprise support of those who are pressing hard the demand that Barack Obama Snrs Museum should be built at Kanyadhiang, the local member of Parlisment for the area Eng. James Rege has added his weight to the issue. He recently invited the Gender and Children,s Minister Eesther Murugi and the Ministrys Permanent Secretary Dr. Nyikal to Kanyadhiang where they defiantly unveiled the signpost erected in an area which was identified as the site for the proposed new Museum. The signpost was unveiled by the Minister Murugi who was the guest of honour at the venue.

.The Karachuonyo people have disagreed with the long held beliefs that Barrack Obama Snr was born in Kogelo village in Siaya district and buried there when he died in 1982.They have lodge their complaints claiming that the late Obama Snr was born at Kanyadhiang and whatever the memorial monument planned in his honour by the government of Kenya should be built at his birth place, and not his burial site..

Last month Kenyas Minister for Tourism Najib Balala while visiting the Obamas family home at Kagelo, Siaya in the company of his entire Ministrys top officials had announced that the government would built a multi-million shillings Museum in honour of Barrack Obama Snr in Mama Sarah Obamas homestead, and also promised that the government would undertake to renovate all the access roads to the area for the purpose of attracting tourists and visitors from US and other destinations abroad..


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