Kenyan police have arrested two men who were recruited by an Iranian group accused of plotting attacks in the east African nation, the police chief said Saturday.
Police chief Joseph Boinett said they believed the two Kenyan men had travelled to Iran several times, identifying them as Abubakar Sadiq Louw, 69, and Yassin Sambai Juma. Kenyan media gave his age as 25.
“We have irrefutable evidence they were recruited into an Iranian spying ring,” he told reporters in the capital Nairobi, indicating that other unidentified security agencies had helped “uproot this network”.
“The mission of that ring was to mount terror attacks in this city, not only targeting Western interests but targeting our people as well.”
Louw was recruited “a number of years ago” and had been instructed to “recruit other Kenyans into the network”, including Juma, with the pair making “a number of trips to Iran in which they met their handlers” and where they had been “given targets and given money.”
Police gave no further details about the alleged Iranian group the men were linked to.
The announcement was made a day after Pope Francis ended a three-day visit to Kenya, where security was a major concern.
Kenyan anti-terror police have detained two Iranian men who tried to enter the East African country using forged Israeli passports, on suspicion that they may have been involved in a plan to carry out an attack.
In May 2013, a Kenyan court sentenced two Iranians to life in prison for terror-related charges.
Ahmed Mohammed, 50, and Sayed Mansour, 51, were found guilty of possessing explosives to be used in bomb attacks. The two Iranians had tried to enter Kenya through its main airport using forged Israeli passports.
They possessed 15 kilos (33 pounds) of the powerful explosive RDX, which police found hidden in a hole on a golf course.
At the time, the court said they were believed to have links to a network planning bombings in Nairobi and the eastern port of Mombasa, the country’s second largest city.