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Kenya's police anti-terrorism tactics condemned but Obama silent

President Barack Obama's ancestral home has come under sharp criticism this week for its police actions to thwart an invasion of Somali refugees, many of whom are suspected members of an al-Qaeda offshoot. On Friday, human rights groups blasted Kenya's fight against Islamic terrorism and accused the Kenyan government of anti-Muslim sentiment towards that nation's Islamic minority which includes Obama's family.

With tens of thousands of Somali refugees pouring into Kenya, the police are concerned with Al Shabaab fighters also entering Obama's ancestral homeland.
Getty Images/AFP

Somali nationals claiming to seek asylum in Kenya are being "victimized" by a law enforcement counter-terrorism dragnet with Amnesty International on Friday condemning Kenya's government for its approval to detain thousands of Somalis in Nairobi. The refugees claim they are escaping a full-blown war fought by Somali and African Union troops against an al-Qaeda-linked terrorism group, but police officials say many of the refugees are actually members or associates of Al Shabaab.

The procedure of registering Somali refugees in Kenya was curtailed nearly three-years ago by the Kenyan government. The cancellation of the registration process has stopped providing refugee status to many who should qualify. As a result, the asylum-seeks are being forced to return to Somalia, and suffer that nation's human rights abuses by both sides of the conflict, according to former police advisor and counterterrorism expert, Joseph Simone-LaSalle.

According to reports, Somalis in Kenya complained that they are being beaten and detained at Nairobi jails and a large sports stadium. During the past week, they told Amnesty, they've been hunted during no-knock searches of houses and make-shift refugee camps.

Those refugee who were never registered as asylum-seekers are most at risk, although Somali nations with valid immigration-asylum documents have allegedly been threatened, mistreated and arrested by police officers, as well, according to reports.

Kenya's government in the wake of the shopping mall terrorist attack by al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab ordered its police and security forces to conduct a far reaching anti-terrorism operation, code-named "Rudisha Usalama" (“restore peace”). The operation was initiated on April 2, 2014, and upwards of four-thousand immigrants, mostly Somalis, were caught in the dragnet.

The week, dozens of Somalis were deported and transported back to Somalia's capital of Mogadishu. Many of the Somalis returned to the war-torn, food-scarce nation were women and children, according to the Middle East's Press TV.

During a televised speech to the Kenyan people, President Uhuru Kenyatta explained, "The safety of our people and the defense of Kenya's sovereignty are among my cardinal responsibilities. We will not be intimidated; threats to our sovereignty will be met with our full might."

According to Kenya Today, last month the Obama administration received a request for assistance from the Kenyan government. Administration officials told the Kenyan government it would "support [Kenya] to protect and secure its porous borders in the fight against terror." But the U.S. officials fell short of describing what kind of assistance Kenyans could expect.