A self proclaimed ‘al-Shabaab’ group leader has surrendered to Kenya’s authorities in the northern border town of Mandera. The Rwandese national who identified himself as Pascal Bizimungu alias Big man Abdirizak surrendered over then weekend.
The 33-year-old Bizimungu last week stormed the Mandera law courts compound causing panic to members of the public after identifying himself as an ‘al-Shabaab’ militant on the run from neighboring Somalia and seeking refuge and protection from the government.
Bizimungu, who confessed that he is an orphan, arrived in Kenya in 1996 with the help of a truck driver he can only recall as Juma who worked for ZUURA transporters operating between Mombasa and Kigali in Rwanda.
He was accompanied by a man identified only as Musa.
“Musa left me in Nairobi’s Industrial area at a garage where I helped the mechanics in their daily chores as they paid me subsistence allowance,” Bizimungu told journalists in Mandera when he surrendered on Monday.
He was ejected from the garage after owners discovered that he stole and sold metal parts as scrap to dealers rendering him a street urchin.
While in the streets, he sustained a minor injury leg from a road accident where he was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) with the help of a Catholic priest from South B.
After being discharged from KNH, Bizimungu was taken to Kwetu Home of Peace in Madaraka suburb in Nairobi West where he was enrolled in class one at the age of 17 but was transferred to carpentry section in the same orphanage home.
In 1999 he was arrested for trafficking bhang in the sprawling Kibera slums.
“I was arrested and taken to Nyayo Stadium Police Station where a catholic sister intervened for my release and took me back to the orphanage,” he said.
He told journalists it never took long before he was re- arrested and spent eight months in a police station in Nairobi and decided to move to Shikusa in Kakamega, Western Kenya where he stayed for 18 months.
Bizimungu’s life took a swift turn in 2003 after he was registered as a refugee by UNHCR and moved to Kakuma camp.
“I stayed in Kakuma for one year where I was converted into Islamic faith by sheikh Elmi who referred me to an Eastleigh Mosque in Nairobi to learn how to read and write,” said Bizimungu who refused to the photographed.
Early 2004, he returned to Nairobi’s South B where he found many of his friends had been converted to Muslims.
It is while in South B, where he met a Sheikh (currently living in Britain), name withheld.
The South B Sheikh sneaked the Rwandese into Somalia through the Liboi border point with Somalia in 2009.
“I was moved to Mogadishu where I have been in charge of over 50 people planning attacks on AMISOM troops for the past four years,” he said.
Bizimungu said when the group was flushed out of Mogadishu; it moved its base to Jilib where he has been operating from.
Asked why he decided to surrender, he simply answered “I am tired with atrocities committed by the terror group.”
The Rwandese surrendered on the same day a senior al-Shabaab’s militant commander, Sheik Mohamed Said Atom gave himself up to Somali government authorities after he announced his renouncing of violence in Somalia.
Atom has been active in the northeastern state of Puntland where his militias operated in the mountain region of Galgala for the past several years.
The Islamist commander says that he left the group because he could not “tolerate the misleading of ‘al-Shabaab’ and its leader. ”
“I have been tolerating the misleading of Ahmed Abdi Godane (‘al-Shabaab’ Emir) and his group towards the Sharia (Islamic law) and Muslims.
“I have today (June 7) decided to leave ‘al-Shabaab’,” Sheik Atom said.
In Mandera, Bizimungi revealed that Kenya has the highest number of its youths in Somalia fighting alongside ‘al-Shabaab’ followed by Tanzania with Uganda having the least number of enrolments.
“As a member of the dreaded ‘al-Shabaab’ outfit, we have committed many atrocities against innocent civilians which has made me tired with the group, this made me trek for about 50km from Jilib because they want me dead for abandoning them,” Bizimungu concluded.
Mandera County Commissioner Michael Tialal confirmed that the police were holding the self-confessed ‘al-Shabaab’ member for further interrogation.
Tialal said they will analyze the information provided by the Rwandese before arresting some of his accomplices.
“We are seeking to establish whether the man has been involved in any attack on our soil and whether the information he will give us will be crucial in assisting us arrest his accomplices who are on the run,” said Tialal.