Tanzanian police broke up an al-Shabaab training operation in Tanga region, arresting 69 suspects and freeing dozens of recruits ranging from 4 to 13 years old in a security sweep carried out October 28th to November 5th.
“This has shocked us, we have increased security in Kilindi district and we have deployed enough community police who know the place properly, and through joint operations with our police we are getting encouraging results,” Tanga Regional Police Commander Constantine Massawe told Sabahi, confirming the number of arrests.
On the first day of the operation, police rescued 54 children and 32 women who were found at a training facility in Lwande and reunited them with their families the first week of November, according to Kilindi District Commissioner Selemani Liwowa.
Another 20 children, aged between 4 and 13 and who “had been completely brainwashed” by al-Shabaab at a local mosque, were placed in a rehabilitation programme, Liwowa told Sabahi.
When police found them at Madina mosque, the youngsters possessed exercise books which contained teachings on “how to kill using a knife [or] a machete, how to fight aggressors with weapons and without [weapons], how to sabotage the economy and how to liberate East Africa from the hands of the kuffar [infidels],” according to Liwowa.
Al-Shabaab had brainwashed these children to the point that they disowned their parents as not being true Muslims because they intermingled with non-Muslims, he said.
During the raid on the mosque, police also seized 12 videos containing al-Shabaab teachings on how to liberate Muslims in East Africa and the world at large, he said.