“We are now meeting frequently to discuss ways of handling the trend. We feel those who are attacking us are 'our own' who have recently converted. That’s why it is difficult for the security to identify them among,” says Reverend Gathanju.
The leaders' concerns gained credence on Monday when Musharaf Abdalla, a Christian convert, admitted before the Nairobi chief magistrate Kiarie Waweru that he was a member of Al Shabab and had handled explosive vests and devices. Giggling, he asked the court to jail him quickly, only to revise his guilty plea to not guilty yesterday.
Mr. Abdalla is believed to hail from western Kenya, where he was known as Alex Shikinda. He became the latest Kenyan convert to openly admit being a member of Al Shabab and to handling explosives on behalf of the extremist group.
A year ago, Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, who hails from western Kenya and goes by the alias Mohammed Seif, was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to grenade attacks in Nairobi, a plea he had also attempted to revise.
Mr. Oliacha’s mother later told journalists her son was brought up a strong Roman Catholic. Oliacha had said he converted to Islam in 2005 and travelled to Somalia where he underwent intense Islamic religious teachings and training on explosive and firearms use. He returned in 2011 and carried out attacks after Kenya sent soldiers into Somalia
“If they killed some of our members in Somalia, I had to kill some civilians here. It was tit for tat,” he told investigators.
What draws conversions
Religious scholars are seeking to explain the development, which has shocked the churches and presented a new challenge for security organs.