Somali militants recruit in Nairobi slum

Aug. 28, 2009 at 7:25 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A slum in the Kenyan capital nicknamed Little Mogadishu because of the influx of Somali refugees has become a center for militant groups.

Islamists are recruiting young men, and sometimes children, in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi, an elderly sheikh told The Christian Science Monitor. He did not want his name used.

The sheikh said one woman found her 12-year-old son training to be a suicide bomber. He told the newspaper she would have been killed if she had tried to remove him.

"These young men have no ID papers, no future," he said. "The only future they see is blowing themselves up and going to heaven."

In the latest turn in Somalia's civil war, Islamist groups are fighting a weak interim government that has international support. The major recruiter in Nairobi is Al Shabab, a group believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida.

"Al Shabab has been able at different moments to bring a number of people in Eastleigh to fight in Somalia," said Roland Marchal, a senior research fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. "It's very likely that a number of economic operators in Eastleigh try to collect money and support this organization."

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