Kenyan law enforcement is offering ten million Kenyan shillings–slightly more than $100,000–for information which could lead to the capture of Andreas Martin Mueller, a German national who left his homeland to fight for the jihadist group al-Shabaab and remains on the run after an attack on a military base.
Mueller, originally from Bonn, Germany, is believed to have traveled out of Europe to Africa to join the Somali terrorist group in 2011 with his Eritrean wife and their child. He is believed to have been radicalized by the Islamic community in Bonn. He officially announced his allegiance to al-Shabaab upon arriving in Somalia in 2012.
Deutsche Welle notes authorities believe the 42-year-old, who took the nom de guerre Abu Nusaybah upon joining the jihadist group, participated in a terrorist attack on a military base in Lamu county, Kenya, on Sunday June 14, and that he was significantly injured in the attack. Eleven jihadis and two Kenyan soldiers were killed in the attack. In their propaganda press release in the matter, the group claimed “many” soldiers were killed in the attack, a common practice for the group even when authorities have confirmed a low number of casualties.
In a poster showing various photos of Mueller, the Kenyan government announced the reward and noted that, despite injuries, they believe he is extremely dangerous. The reward is part of a program called Kaa Chonjo Usinyamaze, or “Be alert, Don’t Keep Quiet,” a program similar to the “See something, Say something” anti-terrorist initiatives in America.
Among the eleven jihadists killed in the attack was a 25-year-old UK national named Thomas Evans, whose presence along with Mueller is a reminder that Kenya is not only battling native-born and neighboring Somali jihadists, but that al-Shabaab boasts formidable recruitment efforts in the West. Kenya’s Standard newspaper names a number of other Western al-Shabaab recruits–Emrah Erdogan, a German-born Turkish jihadist, and Ahmed Khaled Andreas. The newspaper lists the US, Canada, the UK, and Saudi Arabia as the most popular recruitment sites for the terrorist organization.
“Kenya can easily overcome Syria as a place for Europeans seeking jihad,” David Anderson, a professor of African history at the University of Warwick, tells the Standard, with the newspaper adding that an estimated 40 Americans have joined al-Shabaab in 2015 so far.
In February, when al-Shabaab released a recruitment video aimed at Americans–particularly Somali-Americans in Minnesota–calling for an attack on that state’s Mall of America, similar to the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya in 2013, an estimated one dozen Americans had died fighting for al-Shabaab, mostly in Somalia. The Anti-Defense League estimated that more than 50 Americans had joined the group since its inception, but noted that the greatest challenge to al-Shabaab recruitment in the past five years has been the astronomical growth of another jihadist terror group: the Islamic State.
Illustrative of this is the story of Elton Simpson, one of two shooters who targeted a Draw Muhammad free speech event in Garland, Texas, in May. Simpson had been previously arrested in 2009 for telling an FBI informant that he was endeavoring to join al-Shabaab. “We know plenty of brothers from Somalia,” he told an informant. “We’re going to make it to the battlefield. It’s time to roll.” By the time of the Garland attack, Simpson had been discussing traveling not to Somalia, but Syria, to join the Islamic State.