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The man killed alongside Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, wanted by the United States for masterminding deadly blasts on embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, was a Kenyan-Somali believed to be involved in financing operations of militant Islamist group al-Shabaab, Somalia Report understands.
Fazul and Musa Hussein, better-known as Musa Sambayo in his Kenyan hometown of Wajir, were killed in the early hours of last Wednesday in Somalia when they stumbled into a government roadblock.
Al-Shabaab knew Hussein as Abdullahi Dere, although he also went under the aliases of Musa Dere and Musa al-Kinyi (Musa the Kenyan). Hussein grew up in Wajir, north-east Kenya, before becoming radicalized by a friend. He is believed to have met Fazul in Mombasa in 2004, and become his personal assistant. Musa lost a leg in fighting in Somalia in 2006, returning to Kenya to receive treatment.
By the time he had recovered, the Islamic courts Union were defeated by Ethiopia and al-Shabaab had begun its insurgency. Musa decided to operate within Kenya to help al-Shabaab recruit people from Mombassa, Nairobi and north-eastern Kenya. Musa would be seen driving expensive cars in Nairobi although he he was unemployed.
He is also believed to have been in charge of receiving and sending money on behalf of al-Shabaab, as he had legal Kenyan documents to do the transactions. Many people suspected him when in 2009 he rented an expensive home in Nairobi’s South C estate. He lived with his sister and did not allow former friends and relatives to visit him.
Although he did not have higher academic qualifications or military training, al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab used him because he could speak English, Swahili, Somali and Arabic, which he learnt later to facilitate various activities for them in East Africa. He also traveled Uganda and Tanzania to carry out private activities for Fazul, or fellow al-Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Nabhani, who both had families and relatives in Kenya and Tanzania.
Musa, suspected to have been involved in the twin bomb attacks that killed almost 80 people in Kampala last year, was arrested by Kenyan security officials along the Kenya-Somali border in 2010, but was released on bond. In Nairobi he had a close relationship with some of the Somali clerics in Eastleigh, and regularly prayed at the Jamia mosque in central Nairobi.
Fazul death welcomedFazul, born in the Comoros Islands, was believed to be al-Qaeda’s top operative in East Africa, and was on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list for his role in the 1998 bombings.
“Harun Fazul's death is a significant blow to al-Qaeda, its extremist allies, and its operations in East Africa,” US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and elsewhere - Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis, others in the region, and our own embassy personnel.
More than 200 people died in the twin blasts at US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, attacks which announced the arrival of al-Qaeda on the world stage. Fazul was also suspected of being involved in the bombing of an Israel-owned hotel in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa in 2002, which killed 15, and a simultaneous attempt to shoot down a passenger jet carrying Israeli tourists leaving the popular tourist resort.
The US Department of State was offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to Fazul's arrest.