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After the kidnapping of a British tourist in Kenya, Somalia Report sent teams to investigate the details, but instead uncovered an alleged master plan by the al-Shabaab insurgent group to disrupt Kenya's tourism industry and kidnap foreigners using their own foreign fighters, all planned by Al-Qaeda's Horn of Africa mastermind.
The British tourist, Mrs. Judith Tebbutt, kidnapped by Somali gunmen from a resort in Kenya, was taken to Kismayo by speed boat and later moved to Baidoa and today she allegedly arrived in Hiin Dawa'o, a town between Harardhere and Hobyo.
A Somalia Report investigation in Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle has unearthed a wider plan of terror directed against Kenya's tourism industry within the coastal region that was abruptly put on hold when the mastermind, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Al-Qaeda's point man in the Horn of Africa, was gunned in Mogadishu in June. His death forced the scouting team to abort the plan and return back to the coastal town of Marka for further orders.
This advance team within al-Shabaab was made up of only foreign fighters from Kenya and Tanzania selected for their knowledge of the area and are believed to have assisted in Mrs. Tebbutt's kidnapping to avenge Kenyan support for Somalia's government, which is battling the Islamic terror group.
Somalia Report sources indicate that the chairman of al-Shabaab in Kismayo, Sheikh Hassan Yaqub Ali who also serves as the (Amniyat) intelligence chief for the Juba regions, was given the mandate to come up with covert action against the coastal towns of Kenya by the high council of the group for consultations known as “Shura” following a meeting in Kismayo two months ago. The plan was reportedly to recruit both al-Shabaab combatants, former pirates, and relatives of some of the top officials within al-Shabaab to carry out the attacks.
Despite al-Shabaab's denial of being behind the kidnapping, this operation had the blessings and logistical support of the local administration on ground since nobody can undertake such action without the permission of al-Shabaab which controls the region.
The initial plan was to kidnap or kill as many tourists as possible but this was not to be since Mrs. Tebbutt and her husband, who was killed during the kidnapping, were the only guests at the resort. To compensate for their 'failure' by kidnapping only one foreigner, al-Shabaab fighters within the Amniyat or Al-Shabaab’s intelligence team (the dreaded al-Shabaab hit squad) were directed to kidnap more foreigners outside Somalia's border. To do this, they turned to the foreign Jihadists from Kenya and Tanzania who had been operating under Fazul.
To identify a secure location to keep their victims, the intelligence leadership sent advance teams to the towns of Jamame, Jilib and Bu’ale, specifically to the former World Vision compound in Bua'le town in Middle Juba region. The compound is currently used as a training, command and lodging base by al-Shabaab's high ranking officials, particularly foreign fighters. The final location has yet to be determined due to a disagreement between the kidnappers and the al-Shabaab point person about the next course of action.
All the top officials in the Juba regions were ordered to deny any knowledge of the kidnapping and halt any outgoing information by intimidating locals. By denying the kidnapping, al-Shabaab believes they successfully inflicted a blow to the Kenyan government and tourism industry without subjecting themselves the wrath of the international community.
Despite their tactic of denial, analysts believe this will only bring more military force against the militants which have already been targeted by drones in southern Somalia.
“Kidnapping foreigners like the British woman may finally cause more foreign military intervention into the Somalia’s rebel held areas if the radical Islamists cannot be stopped from jumping the Somalia border to neighboring nations,” Kismayo based Somali political Analyst Muse Dirir told Somalia Report.