RLPB 411. Kenya: Al-Shabaab incites against Church
by Elizabeth Kendal
CFF Director of Advocacy
Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab is inflaming religious tension and escalating its terror attacks inside Kenya, doubtless in an effort to extract concessions ahead of Kenya’s 8 August General Elections and possibly even make Kenya’s involvement in Somalia an election issue.
On 18 May al-Shabaab released a video featuring Senior Private Alfred Danyi Kilasi, a Kenyan soldier captured in Somalia in January 2016. Under duress, Kilasi criticises the Kenyan government and appeals to the Kenyan people to ‘find a solution for this dilemma’.
Then al-Shabaab released another video on 22 May, this time showing al-Shabaab commander and spokesman Sheikh Ali Mahmoud Rage addressing al-Shabaab fighters at a graduation ceremony. Rage describes the graduates as ‘muhajireen’ (emigrants) who have travelled from ‘faraway lands’ and endured al-Shabaab’s ‘intense training sessions’ so they might combat ‘the enemies of Allah’. Noting that many of the fighters come from Kenya, he exhorts the graduates: ‘You have to be the army that will conquer Kenya.’ Lamenting the plight of Muslims in East Africa in general and Kenya in particular, Rage devotes most of his 10-minute address to inciting hostility against the Church. He rails against the alleged crimes of Christians and the victimisation and imprisonment of Muslims. He laments that ‘Kenyan crusaders’ now occupy ‘Muslim lands’ and that Christians have ‘erected churches in the place of mosques’ so that in many places the Islamic call to prayer ‘has been replaced by the chiming of church bells’.
Since the videos were released, al-Shabaab has markedly escalated its terror attacks inside Kenya, specifically in the Muslim-dominated eastern provinces bordering Somalia. Dozens of people have been killed in ambushes and by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including four aid workers, a woman with a child, and more than 20 security personnel.
On 31 May some 70 al-Shabaab jihadists invaded the town of Fafi in Garissa Province. It seems their objectives were to destroy the Safaricom telecommunication mast and to kill or kidnap the Christian teachers from the local school. Christian school teacher Elly Oloo Ojiema was shot and killed in the school compound, while Christian teacher Joseph Kamau was taken captive. Despite much shooting into the air, no locals were targeted. Only when a Muslim teacher sprang courageously to Kamau’s defence was that Muslim taken captive as punishment for siding with an infidel. Morning Star News reports that Ojiema was a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, while Kamau belongs to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). After they destroyed the Safaricom mast, the militants retreated back into Somalia, laying IEDs on the roads as they went. It is deeply concerning that numerous Safaricom masts have been destroyed in the eastern border provinces, disabling communications over a wide area.
On top of all this, an investigation published by the BBC at the end of May reveals that al-Shabaab has been abducting Kenyan women (both Muslims and Christians) from the Kenyan coast. These young women are then trafficked into Somalia where they used as ‘wives’ and sex slaves. The BBC interviewed more than 20 escapees – including Faith, Sarah and Elizabeth – for their BBC Magazine feature and 30-min documentary, ‘The Sex Slaves of al-Shabab’.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO
* comfort the young widow, extended family and friends of Christian teacher Elly Oloo Ojiema; may their faith remain strong through this storm.
* comfort, protect and deliver Christian captive Joseph Kamau; may evil hands be restrained; and may God’s amazing grace — as reflected by Kamau — be received by his Muslim colleague who risked his life to defy the jihadists. May God redeem this terrible situation for his glory.
* intervene to protect and preserve Kenyan security personnel, and shield and sanctify the Kenya Church — especially those Christians and fellowships located in hostile Muslim-dominated areas.
‘Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.’ (Psalm 141:10 ESV)
* interpose his strong arm against al-Shabaab (Isaiah 40:10-11), to liberate those being held captive to Islamic jihadists (for propaganda or sex), as well as those being held captive to Islamic jihadist ideology which demands that they kill and be killed (Quran Sura 9:111).
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’ (Jesus, from John 10:1-10 ESV)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
AL-SHABAAB INCITES AGAINST THE CHURCH IN KENYA
Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab is fuelling religious tension and escalating terror inside Kenya as it seeks to extract concessions ahead of Kenya’s 8 August General Elections. In a 10-minute video released on 22 May, an al-Shabaab commander exhorts his fighters to ‘conquer Kenya’. He rails against Kenyan Christians, decries their alleged persecution of Muslims and laments that they are occupying ‘Muslim lands’. This and an earlier video seem designed to incite hostility against the Church. Al-Shabaab has also escalated its terror attacks inside Kenya, specifically in the Muslim-dominated eastern regions bordering Somalia; dozens have been killed, hundreds of mines have been laid and numerous telecommunication masts have been destroyed. On 31 May a Christian teacher was murdered and another kidnapped in an al-Shabaab raid. Please pray for Kenya and its Church.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).