A woman accused of plotting with her medic husband to launch a bio terror attack in Kenya has appeared in a Nairobi court. The charges stemmed from an alleged plan foiled by Kenyan police in which the woman, Nuseiba Haji, and other purported accomplices are accused of planning the event. While the husband is already under arrest, the court granted police’s request for an additional 30 days in custody for Haji.
It was a normal day on Friday April 29 in Kenya, but behind the scenes, Kenyan Police were pursing what some are saying would have been a “Westgate style” terror attack. Authorities confirmed that that they had successfully apprehended several suspects under investigation for links to terrorism and ISIS. Inspector General Joseph Boinne, the Kenyan Chief of Police, announced on Tuesday that they had in fact interrupted a plot aimed at “various targets in Kenya.”
The culprits were a married couple and a woman planning to use anthrax on a large scale to kill and instill fear in the people of Kenya. The married medical students, Mohammed Abdi Ali and Nuseiba Mohammed Haji, were interns at Wote Hospital, looking to leverage their facility and access to plan a bio-terrorism attack on the region. The police are still looking for two other interns believed to be accomplices in the plan but have not been able to locate either of the suspects.
The Bio Terror Plot
The team had a large network of medical experts working to leverage anthrax as a biological weapon. With the two main suspects having full access to the University’s medical facility, combined with their reported extended medical network, the group certainly had the ability to obtain what they needed for an attack. But experts aren’t so sure that they could have made an actual weapon out of anthrax due to the complexity of weaponizing the strain. Regardless of the widespread potential, even the smallest amount of anthrax can be extremely deadly, so authorities are not taking this lightly.
The Ties to Isis
Kenya continues to struggle with economic, political and social issues, making the region a potentially ripe picking area for terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Kenya is no stranger to terror attacks, and with more than 600,000 people displaced in refugee camps fighting disease, lack of proper water, food and hope, these groups might have few problems when it comes to finding the right recruitment environments.
The predominant terrorist groups associated with Kenya is the Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is actually tied to Al-Qaeda however the police never mentioned the Al-Shabaab in the interview, instead inferring an “East African terror group” was to blame. Whether or not the terror plot was in fact tied to ISIS is to be determined and the Chief has 30 days to hold the suspects for interrogation before the public can find out.
Kenya’s Terror Tactics
Kenya has amped up on fighting terrorism since the Nairobi Westgate shopping mall attack, but some do not agree with the indiscriminate war on Somali Muslims in the region. “The government is radicalizing the people. It doesn’t matter if the guy is a devil or an angel. We are saying due process should be followed,” stated Mwambi Mwasaru, the executive director of Muslim Human Rights.
In addition to targeting high profile Muslim leaders, the government has gone to such lengths as to close a mosque due to “radical conversion”, attempts to close Somali refugee camps, and targeting “radical youths” in the area making the tension between government and non-radicals even more elevated, while pushing those inclined to join the ISIS and Al-Qaeda groups more passionate to make the change.
Having the right balance between protection and human rights has always been a sore subject for any government trying to wage a war on terror. The United States continues to battle this very ethical line on a daily basis, and as Kenya works towards protecting it’s people only time will tell if its efforts are effective. One thing is clear, Kenyan authorities potentially saved hundreds of people from a day of terror.