Two Cardiff men, 18, held by Kenyan anti-terror police

The father of one of two teenagers from Cardiff arrested over possible links to an insurgent group has told the BBC his son has been brainwashed

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Two 18-year-old men from Cardiff are being questioned by anti-terrorism police in Kenya.

Authorities in Kenya say the pair were arrested while crossing the border into Somalia.

The father of one man, of Somali descent, said he had flown out to save his son who had been "misled" into thinking he could fight a holy war.

Kenyan police say were under investigation by the anti-terrorism unit and are expected to be deported.

The other man is also a UK citizen, who is of Pakistani descent according to police.

A joint statement from the Muslim community in Cardiff said they were thankful the two men were safe and well and they were anxiously awaiting their return.

The father of the Somali Briton told the BBC he travelled to Kenya after his son disappeared from the family home in Cardiff.

Abdirhman Haji Abdallah told the BBC Somali Service in an interview: "He was brainwashed and taken away from us and he was told that he was going to fight a holy war in Somalia. So I travelled to Nairobi in an effort to save him."

He alerted the High Commission in Nairobi as well as the Kenyan police and gave them a photograph of his son.

Abdirhman Haji Abdallah Abdirhman Haji Abdallah says he was reunited with his son in Nairobi, Kenya

Security forces arrested his son very close to the Somali border along with the other 18-year-old.

Mr Abdallah said he was reunited with his son in Nairobi where police said they would not prosecute as he had not crossed the border into Somalia, but would refer the matter to the UK authorities.

Charles Owino, deputy spokesman for the Kenyan police, said earlier on Tuesday: "They were arrested crossing into Somalia.

"They are under investigation by the anti-terrorism unit of the Kenyan police."

"These persons are being detained under Kenyan law and the force is liaising with local law enforcement to establish the circumstances of their detention."

South Wales Police said it was trying to establish the circumstances of the detention and was also in contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British High Commission in Nairobi.

The case of the 18-year-olds, understood to be missing from Cardiff for more than a week, was discussed at a community meeting in the Grangetown area of the city on Sunday.

Just beforehand, police informed community leaders the two had been located.

A joint statement from the Muslim community in Cardiff said: "The Somali and Pakistani community in particular, and the Muslim community in general, are anxiously waiting for the arrival of the two youths detained by the Kenyan authorities.

Start Quote

People need to be more vigilant - we all have something in common and that's Cardiff and Wales”

End Quote Ibrahim Harbi Somali Integration Society, Cardiff
Support each other

"And the families of the two youths are thankful to God that they are both safe and well.

"Once the families realised that the two youths were missing, the authorities were notified.

"We are grateful that the authorities in collaboration with the communities were able to establish the whereabouts of the youths."

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael said: "What I am very pleased about is the positive way in which the community in south Cardiff - people of Somali origin and Pakistani origin - have come together as a Cardiff community to support each other and work out what needs to be done.

"Both to make sure these two young men don't come to any harm and that positive action is taken by the community to find out what has happened and engage their young people in positive ways."

Ibrahim Harbi, national co-ordinator for the Somali Integration Society in Cardiff, told the BBC news website the events were a "kind of wake-up call".

"It does not reflect the community that contributed so much to community wealth [in Cardiff] since the 18th Century.

"People need to be more vigilant. We all have something in common and that's Cardiff and Wales," he said.

Map The pair were arrested crossing the Kenyan border with Somalia

"For me personally this is a negative, but something positive could come out of it."

He expressed strong concern over community relations as a result of the events and stressed it was an isolated incident which should not stigmatise the whole community.

Abductions

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of two British nationals detained in Kenya on October 16 and we are seeking normal consular access."

The arrests came against a background of an air and ground assault by Kenya into Somalia at the weekend.

Somali militant group al-Shabab has warned Kenya to withdraw its troops from Somalia, or face bloody battles.

Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told the BBC Somali service that his fighters would attack Nairobi.

Kenya had responded to several recent cross-border abductions it blames on al-Shabab.

Witnesses said hundreds of al-Shabab fighters were making their way towards areas where Kenyan forces had gathered.

Kenyan troops crossed the border at the weekend, supported by helicopters and jet fighters.

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