Kenya police arrest top Muslim official

NAIROBI – Kenyan police have arrested a top Muslim official in a raid in the capital Nairobi, an anti-terror police official said Friday.

Sheikh Abdi Hajji was arrested late Thursday in a police raid on the office of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslim (SUPKEM), the official told Anadolu Agency.

He said that 47 passports and 150 birth certificates have been confiscated during the raid.

But Muslim leaders criticized the arrest, saying that Sheikh Abdi Hajji ran an agency which organizes hajj (pilgrimage) trips for Kenyan Muslims to Saudi Arabia.

"It is normal that ahead of the coming Umrah(lesser pilgrimage) Sheikh Hajji would be in possession of travelling documents deposited by those intending to make the journey," SUPKEM Secretary-General Adan Wachu told AA.

"I don't see anything sinister with that," he added.

Police have launched an investigation to determine the legality of the confiscated documents and whether the Muslim leader has any links to terror activities, a source said.

Kenyan security forces have been at high alert following recent attacks suspected to be carried out by the militant Somali Al-Shabaab group.

Officials say that over 1000 people have been arrested in an ongoing operation to flash out terror suspects in the capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa.

On Wednesday, Muslim preacher Hassan Mahat Omar and his wife were arrested for allegedly being in possession of two hand grenades at their apartment.

The arrest followed the killing of six people in a Monday attack in the mainly Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh.

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