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Westgate suspect ‘was lovelorn’

A man believed to have led the Westgate terror attack wanted to get married in Nairobi three months before the incident, a witness told a court on Wednesday.

Mr Mohammed Abdi Noor, who schooled in Kakuma as a refugee in 2010 before he left for Somalia for suspected militant training, resurfaced three years later in the streets of Eastleigh and pestered a former classmate to find him a “young woman to marry.”

However, a woman introduced to him turned down the marriage proposal because it was rushed.

Mr Abdifatah Abdirahman Ali, who was testifying in a case in which four men are charged with helping the terrorists carry out the September 21 mall attack, said he bumped into Mr Noor in Eastleigh but denied he knew he was involved in the mall incident.

He said he remembered Mr Noor being among new students who joined Gambella Primary School in Kakuma in mid 2010. He was shown 10 photographs of the man and he identified him positively.

“After about four months in school, Mohammed Abdi Noor left and never came back…word went round that he had gone to Somalia,” the witness said. 

He said he also left school in August 2012 and travelled to Nairobi to look for a job. 

“By then I was in class six and was hosted by a relative who resides in Eastleigh’s 12th Street where I was offered a casual job of selling miraa and being a guard at a fee of Sh300 daily,” he said.

In July 2013 while in Eastleigh, the witness said, he bumped into Mr Noor along 10th Street who called him by name.

“I could hardly recognise him as he was now sporting a beard and had a different hairstyle, he was also slimmer,” Mr Ali testified.

He said they chatted and Mr Noor told him he had been in Somalia to visit his mother and that he had been in Eastleigh for sometime but had no job and requested him to help “secure one anywhere.”

“We exchanged mobile numbers and parted ways and later he kept calling me to assist him get a lady to marry…he kept pressing me to look for a lady and I linked him to a lady called Zamzam who was my classmate at Al-Imra College, where I was studying then,” the witness said.

He said he sent Zamzam’s mobile number to Mr Noor and informed the young woman of Mr Noor’s interest. “I later learnt that they met at Zamzam’s home,” he said.

The witness said the terror suspect had given him his number as 0726658736, but used a different number when he called.

“A week later, Zamzam called to inform me that her relationship with Mr Noor could not work because he was demanding marriage within a short time and yet they did not even know each other,” said the witness.

Mr Ali said Zamzam told him Mr Noor had insulted her when she turned down his proposal.

On October 8, he said, police arrested and detained him for 20 days, asking him about his relationship with Mr Noor.