Kenyan officials have recently accused the United States, UK, Norway, Germany, and Finland of funding two groups with links to al-Shabaab. According to Kenya, the aid provided to non-governmental organizations Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) have “directly or indirectly furthered al-Shabaab activities on the Kenyan coast.” In April, Kenya froze the accounts of 85 individuals and organizations on suspicion of links to al-Shabaab. Amongst the groups with frozen accounts were Haki Africa and Muhuri.
Both Haki Africa and Muhuri are promoted as human rights organizations. Haki Africa aims to, “to improve livelihoods and enhance the progressive realisation of human rights in Kenya.” Hussein Khalid, the executive director of Haki Africa and former executive director of Muhuri, was invited to attend a global summit on violent extremism at the White House in February. Similarly, Muhuri claims to be, “contributing towards the national and international struggle to promote and protect the enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties.” Despite promoting themselves as Human Rights NGOs, both organizations have questionable links to al-Shabaab-related groups and individuals.
The two organizations have been linked to the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), an organization that seeks to establish a separate state, independent of Kenya, on the Kenyan coast. Kenyan officials say the Kenyan coast is a hotbed of al-Shabaab activity, and there is evidence that al-Shabaab has recruited members of the MRC.
In the past two years, 21 Islamist clerics have been killed in coastal city of Mombasa. Haki Africa and Muhuri have been extremely critical of the Kenyan government, specifically the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit’s killings of terrorism suspects. Ironically, all of the suspects Haki Africa and Muhuri have rushed to defended have strong connections to al-Shabaab.
In August 2012, Aboud Rogo Mohammed was shot in a drive-by shooting. He was a prevalent figure in the Muslim community, and suspected terrorist. He was sanctioned by the UN for supporting al-Shabaab including financial, technical and recruitment support. Aboud Rogo Mohammed was also tried in 2005 for involvement in the 2002 bombing of a Mombasa hotel. The trial revealed Mohammed had been in contact with head al-Qaeda officials in East Africa. His linkages to terrorism, however, didn’t stop “human rights” organizations from encouraging and supporting youths protesting Mohammed’s death and seeking revenge.
Following the April 2014 death of Abukaer Sharif Ahmed, AKA Makaburi, Haki Africa and Muhuri once again denounced and called for an investigation of the Kenyan government. Like Abu Rogo Mohammed, Makaburi was also sanctioned by the UN for being a main recruiter for al-Shabaab in Kenya. Makaburi was an outspoken supporter of Osama Bin Laden, and claimed the attacks on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi were “100% justified.” Again, the deceased’s involvement with al-Shabaab has not deterred Haki Africa and Muhuri from accusing Kenyan officials of being involved in extrajudicial killings. Haki Africa’s Hussein Khalid released statements, attempting to justifying why numerous Kenyan youths were recruited into al-Shabaab.
Following a meeting with several known jihadist clerics organized by Haki Africa, Khalid told the media, “The killing of so-called radical imams is winning them [the militants] sympathy and support.” The fact that Khalid acts to justify jihadists’ actions should have been a red flag to Western officials to reassess their funding to some Kenyan NGOs.
In 2011, Kenyan NGOs received over $95 million of official humanitarian assistance. Haki Africa and Muhuri is funded by British high commission, the Norwegian Embassy, the Open Society Initiative and the Ford Foundation. The Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya claims it funds Haki Africa’s youth engagement and economic empowerment projects, and Muhuri’s justice and social accountability projects, however it is time for Norway and other Western nations funding these so-called human rights organizations to take a step back and look at who they are truly providing assistance to. Baki Africa and Muhuri are using the aid from Western nations to defend jihadists and further their case. The definition of a human rights organization does not include the support of terrorist suspects responsible for years of death and destruction among civilians in Kenya.
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