Kenyan top banker with links to IS-Somalia was caught in Tanzania and handed over to Kenyan authorities. A court ruling in Nairobi has granted the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) the power to detain Zuena Nakhumicha Machabe for 14 days. The detention is part of an ongoing investigation into alleged connections between Machabe and terrorists in Puntland, Somalia.
Nairobi, KENYA. By Yahya:
Reports indicate that Machabe, a former high-ranking Kenyan banker, has become involved in terrorism since 2021. She allegedly maintained connections with the Islamic State’s Somalia branch (ISS, IS-Somalia) based in Puntland. Reports suggest that Machabe played a critical logistical role in the organization’s structure and was responsible for assisting terrorists in obtaining travel documents. She would then coordinate their transfer to Somalia.
The Nairobi court proceedings revealed that Machabe’s reach extended across multiple countries, including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. This made her a focal point of interest in terrorism-related investigations throughout the whole region.
Machabe’s apprehension occurred on 27 July at the Tuduma border crossing between Tanzania and Zambia. She attempted to cross the border illegally with her three children, which led to her arrest.
Husband in Puntland
Machabe garnered attention in January 2022 when she used her YouTube channel to plea for the release of her husband, Ibrahim Ramadhan. The emotional video detailed her husband’s alleged abduction by ATPU in December 2021 while he was working at Nairobi’s Kariokor market. She voiced concerns about his safety and sought assistance from various law enforcement entities.
Contrary to her claims, police assert that her husband had left Kenya for Puntland, Somalia, and suggest that Machabe may have played a part in his recruitment and travel arrangements. Authorities suspect the ISS could have exploited Machabe to funnel financial support to individuals’ journeys to Puntland. Her banker background and financial knowledge may have rendered her an appealing asset for these activities.
Tanzanians and Ugandans intercepted en route to Somalia
Machabe’s Nairobi detention comes two weeks after Kenyan security forces apprehended six foreign nationals on their way to Somalia. Among them were five Tanzanians and a Ugandan, highlighting the alarming transnational reach of al-Shabaab’s recruitment machinery.
Upon questioning, they admitted their intention to join al-Shabaab. Moreover, the suspects disclosed that handlers in Tanzania and Uganda recruited them, raising concerns about the extent of al-Shabaab’s network within East Africa.