Recent media claims link billionaire businessman Zakariya Kamal Sufi Abashiek, who holds dual citizenship with Kenya and China, to Al Shabaab’s attack on the Kwa Omollo Bridge Construction site in Lamu last year.
The March 11, 2022 attack killed four Kenyan civilians and one Chinese contractor while destroying a tipper truck and other equipment.
According to sources, Zakariya Kamal provided Chinese-made drones to Al Shabaab, which the militants used to carry out the raid and record the footage.
Medium-altitude long-endurance combat drones with a payload capacity of 345 kg and a flight time of up to 40 hours.
The reports also allege that Zakariya Kamal provided the terrorists with training and technical support on how to operate and maintain the drones.
Zakariya Kamal initially bought the drones from China and then delivered some of them to the Kenyan government as part of a Ksh. 2 billion deal that was issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
By exploiting his network of smugglers and middlemen, Zakariya Kamal was able to redirect some of the drones to Al Shabaab.
These claims have linked Zakariya Kamal to a film produced by Al Shabaab on September 14th 2023, which showed militants shooting unarmed innocent citizens in the Lamu LAPSSET program.
How did he escape detection and carry on with his unlawful activities? Who in the government and security services are his allies and defenders?
Where is he now, exactly?
Terrorism and Zakariya Kamal go hand in hand.
He was detained in June 2023 and accused of a number of offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, such as joining to a terrorist organisation and providing resources for the commission of terrorist acts.
He was charged with purchasing a range of military hardware from China and transporting it to Mogadishu in three containers.
Zakariya Kamal has become a synonymous name associated with acts of terrorism.
In the month of June 2023, he found himself in the custody of the authorities, facing a litany of charges brought forth under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
These charges included allegations of affiliating with a terrorist organization and providing resources for the execution of terrorist activities.
His purported misdeeds involved the acquisition of a diverse array of military equipment from China, which he subsequently shipped in three cargo containers to Mogadishu.
This inventory encompassed rifle scopes, fabric rolls intended for military uniform production, portable and collapsible solar panels, military-grade walkie talkies, camouflage attire, night vision goggles, voice-recording pens, spy watches, concealed eyewear, swimming goggles, flashlights with accompanying batteries, and military-standard helmets.
While Somali authorities managed to intercept one of the containers at the port of entry, it is believed that the other two successfully reached their intended destination, falling into the hands of the Al Shabaab group.
The legal proceedings saw Zakariya Kamal presented before Senior Shanzu Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda, who ordered his remand in police custody to facilitate further investigations.
However, the situation took an unexpected turn in July 2023, when he was released on a Ksh.1 million bond, spending a mere month in detention.
This development ignited a storm of indignation and suspicion, with many questioning how an individual accused of such grave offenses could secure bail so swiftly.
Speculation ran rife that Zakariya Kamal might have exploited his financial resources and influential connections to extricate himself from incarceration.
Zakariya Kamal, originally born in Kenya but having spent the majority of his formative years in China, pursued studies in engineering and business in the latter country.
His return to Kenya in 2020 marked the establishment of a seemingly legitimate import and export enterprise.
However, beneath this façade lay a malevolent plan to equip the Al Shabaab insurgents, who have long been engaged in a violent struggle against the Somali government and its allies, Kenya included.
As this saga unfolds, we remain committed to tracking this story’s developments and will furnish our readers with the latest information as it emerges.