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Briton ‘second in command’ during Kenya al-Shabab raid

A British man killed while fighting with Islamist militant group al-Shabab in Kenya was second in command of his unit at the time, the BBC has learned.

Thomas Evans, 25, from Buckinghamshire, died in the thwarted attack on a military base on 14 June.

Police now say he was also the group’s cameraman, and captured images of the incident up until his death.

Kenyan security forces killed 11 gunmen and two soldiers died after the raid in Lamu County, near the Somali border.

High-profile attacks

Christipo Mutali, from the Kenyan police, says he witnessed the attack in which the 25-year-old died.

“He was the one carrying the video during the attack. And he was commanding ‘let’s move on, we are winning men, let’s go, come in, let us shoot, we are winning.

“There were two lines. He was the one leading the front line.”

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia, has been behind a series of high-profile attacks including the Westgate shopping centre siege in Nairobi in 2013, and a violent assault on a university earlier this year in which nearly 150 people were killed.

BBC News correspondent Karen Allen said police had confirmed Evans was second in command on the day of the latest raid.

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He can apparently be heard in a recording shouting orders over a radio to younger al-Shabab fighters, our correspondent added.

Two attempts

Kenyan security forces believe about 100 British nationals have joined al-Shabab.

Evans, a Muslim convert who changed his name to Abdul Hakim, had contacted his family in Wooburn Green in January 2012, to say he had travelled to Somalia to join the group.

British police had stopped him at Heathrow Airport in 2011 as he tried to board a plane to Kenya.

A few months later, he flew to Egypt, telling his family it was to learn Arabic.

It is now understood that, before he arrived in Somalia, Evans had tried to reach the Kenyan port of Mombasa from Egypt, but was stopped before he reached the border.

His mother, Sally, told the BBC her “whole world has fallen apart” when she heard of his death.

Speaking from her home on 15 June, she said he had met “some people with some very twisted, warped ideas of Islam” in the local area to begin with, and was later influenced by online material.

Ms Evans had previously told a committee of MPs that there had been a “massive failure” by UK authorities in allowing her son to leave Britain.

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Meanwhile, the Kenyan government has released photographs of 38 fighters believed to have been involved in al-Shabab’s latest attack. Among them is a German man, Andreas Martin Muller, who has been on a watch-list for the past six years.

Kenyan police have issued a $100,000 (£64,000) reward for the capture of the German national who has the alias Abu Nusaybah.

The reward is part of a police campaign known in Kiswahili as Kaa Chonjo Usinyamaze (“Be alert, don’t keep quiet”), which was launched to combat the threat from the jihadists.


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