By Rebecca Chimjeka:
Malawi has been implicated in Kenyan terrorist incidents including the latest one involving a luxury hotel this week.
A producer and analyst of renowned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Izak Khomo claimed there is a Malawian connection to the terrorism after an attack that happened Tuesday this week killing at least 21 people in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to BBC, the people were killed when Somali militants stormed a luxury hotel compound in the Kenyan capital, the government confirmed.
Hundreds were forced to flee the bloodshed at the DusitD2 hotel and business complex.
In his analysis on SABC, Khomo alleged that some countries in Africa, including Malawi, have connections with Al- Shabab that claimed responsibility of the attack in Kenya.
During the discussion and analysis of the attack in Kenya, Khomo said some of the jihadist’s Al-Shabab uses are recruited from Malawi specifying the Yao community.
He explained that the Al- Shabab groups that claimed responsibility of the recent attack in Nairobi have bases in Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Mozambique and southern parts of Malawi.
“There are Al Shabaab fighters in Tanzania,……most of them are Zanzibaris, some of them are across Tanzania from Dar es Salaam area…. You have got Al-Shabab fighters from Uganda. These are ADF-linked fighters. And there are also Al-Shabab fighters from Mozambique, northern Mozambique….And also from Malawi.
“Southern Malawi, mostly Yao, there are many of them, Muslims and many of them, not because they are muslims but many of them did, actually, go to the Al-Shabab camps over there. But it is not only Al-Shabab, that’s a thing which everybody has to realise. Also we have Isis. And we have also got an Isis presence in South Africa. When I am talking about Isis, I am not talking about the Durban, the home-grown Isis, I am talking about the foreign Isis,” Khomo said.
Chiwanja Cha Yawo Cultural Heritage has described the allegation as unfortunate.
Chairperson of the recently launched cultural grouping Abdul Aziz Yasin described the allegation as serious.
“I am the chairman of Chibanja Cha a Yao and, in as far as I know, Yaos have no business whatsoever in terrorism. Malawians are peaceful people and Muslims are very peaceful people and to allege that Muslims of the Yao origin are involved in such malpractices is very unfortunate,” Yasin said.
He said Muslims in the country have played a key role in promoting peace and tranquillity.
Yasin said Khomo’s analysis was merely aimed at tarnishing the image of the Yaos and Malawi at large.
“Yaos have nothing to do with Al-Shabab. My question is: Why Yao Muslims? What could be his interest?” he asked.
He accused SABC for propagating such allegations by airing an unbalanced news item.
Homeland Security Minister Nicolas Dausi refused to comment on the matter.
“I cannot comment on such matter, ask people that have been mentioned to comment,” said Dausi.
Islamic Information Bureau National Coordinator Dinala Chabulika said the organisation is currently studying the nature of the allegation and that it will issue statement on the matter in due course.
There have been concerns about the country’s borders being porous and compromised.
In 2003, Malawi’s National Intelligence with assistance from CIA arrested five men suspected to have been running charities that channelled money to Al-Qaeda operatives in Africa and elsewhere.
Reports indicated the men included Mahmoud Sardar Issa, a Sudanese who was heading a charitable organisation called Islamic Zakat Fund Trust in Blantyre.
Another was identified as Fahad Ral Bahli from Saudi Arabia, who was director of the Malawi branch of registered trustees of Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz special committee on relief.
Two of the men were from Turkey and one was an Islamic scholar from Kenya.
African countries, including Malawi, are considered a relatively easy target for terrorists, with their porous borders and relatively lax police presence.
Kenya has been on terror attack for years now.