A court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has handed down a death sentence to Salim Mohammed, a Kenyan terror suspect known as Chotora or Turki Salim. According to his lawyer, Yusuf Abubakar, Salim Mohammed was found guilty of the murder of a Congolese soldier in March and was sentenced to death by hanging. Abubakar has requested the Congolese government to provide his client’s family with the judgment so that they can appeal the sentence.
The trial, which began in November of last year, concluded in March when the Congolese Judiciary released the verdict, ruling that Salim Mohammed should be hanged for the crime.
Following his arrest, the Congolese government, through Interpol Counter-Terrorism Border operations, approved the trial of Salim Mohammed for the murder of the soldier. Before his trial, a team of anti-terror police detectives from Mombasa and Nairobi, along with officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), traveled to Congo to interrogate Mohammed and gather statements. Their aim was to establish his links to terrorism, networks, and connections within East Africa, West Africa, and Syria.
Kenya had sought to extradite Salim Mohammed to gather more information about his terrorist activities and the whereabouts of his accomplices, who are still at large and prosecute him locally.
Salim Mohammed gained attention in January 2022 when a video depicting the killing of a Congolese soldier using a machete circulated online. He was apprehended in Congo in January 2022 while fighting for the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group responsible for numerous civilian and military casualties in Uganda and the DRC since 1996.
Mohamed had been initially arrested by Kenyan anti-terror police in June 2019 at Moi International Airport in Mombasa when attempting to flee the country. He faced charges related to possessing terrorist materials in the Ngomeni area of Kwale County. The Congolese army arrested him on suspicion of being a member of the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group, known for conducting raids in northern DRC near the Ugandan border.
Salim Mohammed, a resident of Mombasa, was considered a suspected terrorist, and the Kenyan government had placed a bounty of Sh10 million on his head. He had also reportedly joined the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP). A group of Kenyan youths from Masjid Musa Mosque was last seen in Goma and Butembo cities in the DRC, having secured temporary unofficial employment as truckers. According to officials, Mohamed recruited these youths and organized their logistics to the DRC, providing them with temporary jobs as truck assistants for transportation to the second largest country in Africa.
There have been allegations that freight forwarding companies owned by Yemeni businessmen are sometimes exploited in such terrorist operations. Police records indicate that Salim Mohammed was released on bond in 2020 for terrorism charges before he went missing. In the meantime, he had reportedly joined the Islamic State in Mozambique.
In an undated video, Salim Mohammed can be seen explaining to residents of the DRC that he and two other associates were on their way to South Africa, hoping to start anew.
Salim Mohamed, aged 29, jumped bail in 2021 in a terror-related case, and his family claims to have no knowledge of his whereabouts. His friends, neighbors and former schoolmates were shocked to see him in a video where he allegedly beheaded a supposed ISIS traitor. After scoring an A-minus in the 2014 KCSE examination, he was sent to Turkey to study computer engineering but was later deported. Mohamed then fled to Mozambique and subsequently entered the DRC.
In a probation report, Salim Mohamed was described as an intelligent individual who wasted his opportunities in life and chose to engage in a dangerous trade. He attended Qubaa Nursery and later joined Qubaa Primary School before transferring to Abu Hureira Academy, where he completed the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam in 2010 with a passing grade.
In 2011, he enrolled in a private secondary school in Mombasa and took his KCSE exam four years later, emerging as one of the top candidates. Salim Mohamed was selected to join Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology but declined the offer. Instead, he enrolled at the Technical University of Mombasa to study computer engineering but dropped out after the first year. He later pursued a certificate course in computer studies at Abraar Muslim School and subsequently pursued computer engineering studies at Istanbul Kultur University in Turkey.
Due to suspicions of being an ISIS member, Salim Mohamed was deported from Turkey as he was found near the border, apparently en route to Syria. He faced charges related to this offense in 2017 at the Shanzu Law Court but was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
In 2019, Salim Mohammed was arrested at Moi International Airport on terror-related links and subsequently charged in court. Together with unidentified accomplices, he was accused of being a member of the al Shabaab terror group.
Salim Mohamed was also charged with possession of items used for making improvised explosive devices. These materials included twin-stranded wires, batteries connected in series using a piece of carton secured by an elastic string, inductor coils, black particles, and white explosive powder utilized in the creation of such devices. He was found in possession of these materials on March 8, 2019, in Ngomeni, Kwale County, according to the police.
After spending several days in remand, Salim Mohammed obtained a Sh1.5 million bond with one surety of a similar amount. Mombasa senior resident magistrate Rita Amwayi granted the bond, stating that the prosecution did not provide sufficient reasons to keep him in custody until the conclusion of his case. However, he disappeared later, and his disappearance was reported to the police in December 2020. At that time, at least eight witnesses had already given their testimonies in the case, and an arrest warrant was issued.
Subsequently, the police apprehended Richard Lazarus Kivatsi, who had been in communication with Salim Mohamed, and another suspect, Alfan Ali Juma, believed to be in Mozambique.
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