Somali war: The Nairobi financiers – Continued

The recent visit to Kenya by the leader of Islamic Courts Union, Sheikh Sharrif, and the dinner reception he was accorded by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Eastleigh Business Community Association and Moslem politicians, is a clear indication that there is more to it than meets the eye, according to sources.

Hussein Abdi Ganyure, a 27 year old receptionist at a lodging house near Eastleigh's 12th Street round-about says: "We know what is happening around the world. Many think Eastleigh is just a place for business only, but it is not. Business is the door to many, many other things. In this lodging if you are not identifiable, you will not be booked in. This is where business of all sorts is done at night and we don't like strangers nosing around."

Ganyure says he at times gets scared by the kind of people booking in at the hotel. "They come in one at a time and rarely talk to anyone. They are very secretive. Everything is done in whispers save for the intermittent shouts of Takbiir! and Alahu, Akbar!

Yusuf Abdille Osman, 43 years old, and a receptionist at another nearby lodging house on 9th street, says there was a flurry of activities before the arrival of Sheikh Sharrif was officially announced.

"All the shakers and movers of Eastleigh met in this hotel for a whole week to discuss how they would receive the leader of the Islamic Courts Union once he was in the country and raised money, with different Somali clans' business tycoons trying to outdo each other," he said.

He added, "I don't think there is any bank that gives loans to these people. It (the cash) is brought from Somalia under the pretext of importing goods by air and by road."

A police officer serving in northern Kenya says officers bribe their bosses to be attached or transferred to the lucrative Kenya Revenue Authority to man the border points where the goods pass through.

"Human trafficking organized in Eastleigh that mainly involves Ethiopian nationals passes through Vanga in Kwale to South Africa while Khoroof Harar in Wqajir, Diff and Liboi, also in Wajir district, are routes for those from Somalia who want to transit through Kenya either to Sweden, Russia, Norway, Italy before heading to the United Kingdom and the US."

Kidnapping and demand for ransom, threats of death and killings on contract are the order of the day for Kenyan businessmen who dare question monopoly of business in Somalia.

Several miraa (khat) businessmen have been kidnapped and a huge amount of ransom paid out to secure their release while others have disappeared without trace.

"We have lost our agents in Somalia and miraa consignments worth millions of shillings to these people. You can imagine every day about Shs 40 million changes hands in miraa business and hardly a week passes without an incident," said Elmi Hussein, a miraa exporter to Somalia and Europe.

Insiders say hundreds of their agents operate at Wilson Airport under the guise of exporting miraa while in actual fact, the main business here is human trafficking, drugs and a crucial base for those involved in aviation industry to bring in dollars ad other currencies "to be cleaned". Some of their planes that operate between Eldoret Airport and Dubai are diverted when the need arises to ferry arms from Ethiopia to Baidoa, the seat of the transitional Federation Government of Somalia.

Other businessmen say since the influx from Somalia, several people have died in mysterious circumstances. Insider sources say this is one reason why every Somali, whether they are Kenyans or from Somalia, tend to seek protection from his or her clan.

Following these mysterious deaths, millions of shillings have been paid for sebent (compensation and apology).

"Sometimes refusal to receive sebent, I am afraid will easily lead to clan war not only here in Kenya but also in Somalia," said an elder of one of the clans who recently were feuding over the control to export foodstuff to NGOs in Somaliland.

A former delegate to the Somali peace conference said a cousin of President Abdullahi was recently gunned down in the leafy Karen suburb when he defied orders to stop ferrying arms to Baidoa by supporters of ICU operating from Eastleigh.

"They came in as carpet cleaners. Three of the hit men confronted him as he held a pistol in his hand. They pretended to run away but when he followed them outside, a lone gun-man stationed outside shot him dead," he explained.

He said, "behind the facade of a bustling brisk business activity, Eastleigh is dangerous. A very dangerous place."

The family of the slain pilot, who was also the managing director of an aviation firm, was ferrying arms to Baidoa from Ethiopia, which supports the Transnational Federal government of Somalia.

The Somali warlords, members of the Islamic Courts Union and their supporters and other shadowy figures, own several malls through proxy in Eastleigh, the city centre and now they have moved further and are buying or building in upmarket areas like Muthaiga and adjacent areas. Currently they have taken over all retail cellphone outlets in the CBD and have the monopoly over all imported phones from Dubai and other Arab countries.

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