Police have identified the man suspected to be the mastermind behind last Saturday’s attack where 11 General Service Unit (GSU) officers died after their vehicle ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Degoh Road in Garissa County.
The officers from Harhar GSU Camp were on patrol along the Kenya-Somalia border when their Toyota Land Cruiser ran over the IED.
A source within the security agencies said police have traced the activities of Banati and his team of militants to the border and it is suspected that he escaped to Somalia with the rest of the operatives.
Police say that the group is responsible for cross border incursions into the Kenyan territory especially in Garissa and is responsible for numerous attacks along the border area.
Additionally, police indicate that Banati planned the attack with the help of operatives within the Dadaab refugee complex.
This will not be the first time that the complex has been adversely mentioned. In the past, the refugee complex has played host to attackers who carried out the Garissa University attack in 2015 and also allowed the transit of attackers during the Westgate attack in 2013 and the Dusit attack in January 2019.
Banati is reported to have joined Al-Shabaab in 2012. He was involved in the attempted attack on a Baure KDF camp in in June 2015 where Al-Shabaab fighters tried to launch an assault on the camp leading to a fierce firefight that killed eleven militants.
During the attack, Banati is said to have been injured and retreated to Somalia to recuperate. He, however, resurfaced in 2018 after being deployed by Al-Shabaab to lead a group of militants carrying out attacks along the border.
Police are calling on the members of the public with information on Banati to come forward in order to assist with investigations into the terror network in Garissa.
On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta mourned the 11 GSU officers and strongly vowed to pursue the attackers.
“The President sends a strong reminder to all misguided elements out to compromise the safety and security of Kenyans across the country that the Government and the people of Kenya will never succumb to their cowardly terrorist actions,” read a statement by State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena.
A joint patrol team of officers drawn from Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Administration Police, Rapid Border Patrol Unit and Kenya Police Service were immediately activated to comb the area around the scene of the incident.
In June this year, at least four people were killed after their vehicle ran over an IED in the border town of Kulan, Garissa.
The staff from ADESO, a non-governmental organisation working in Somalia, were going to their offices in Dobley.