Whenever the word Drug Baron is mentioned, Our minds quickly figure and imagine a moustached Short guy from Columbia or Mexico. We have been used to the “El” names in the Narcotics business. We all know how wealthy this guys are, how their business is huge and how ruthless they are to anyone who crosses their paths. We have also heard how Gentle and human they are, generally showing love and support to the poor and in exchange receiving loyalty and following from common men.
But one thing that really go unnoticed, is the role of Kenya in the drug trade. While it seems well covered, Kenya is one of the greatest drug capitals of the world. We produce some of the biggest names in the narcotics kingpinly who are mostly covered on other high level activities in the country. They live lavishly on beach mansions, drive huge cars and fly private to the world’s most exclusive destinations (Though they are prohibited in many countries already).
While marijuana is common though illegal, it is not the main art of the big Gammer, it is traded by the “Rich Guys” who in reality are just the average middle class Kenyans. It is cheap around Kenya and used by 3 in 10 of the Kenyans. Heroin and Cocaine are the two major businesses of the wealthy cartels who are also involved in Corruption, Tax evasion, land grabbing and Murder. All these things go together and they are the characteristics of the Kingpins all around the World.
Many senior Kenyans have been listed by various authorities, and are still in probe on the matters. They include Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, Mombasa governor Hassan Joho, Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko, former Assistant Minister Harun Mwau, former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua and Othaya MP Mary Wambui.
All of them were named in Parliament by Prof Saitoti but denied the accusations and have always insisted the report had no basis.
On June 1, 2011, just six months after the list was presented to Parliament, Harun Mwau was hit by new sanctions. President Barack Obama ordered sanctions on the businesses of seven individuals linked to the drugs trade, among them Mwau and one Naima Mohamed Nyakiniywa.
“This report to the Congress, under section 804(a) of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, 21 U.S.C. 1901-1908 (the “Kingpin Act”), transmits my designations of the following seven foreign individuals as appropriate for sanctions under the Kingpin Act and reports my direction of sanctions against them under the Act,” the letter by Obama to Congress read.
Others on the list were from Mexico, Afghanistan, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan.
The Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property, subject to US jurisdiction, owned or controlled by significant foreign narcotics traffickers as identified by the President.
For decades, the name Akasha has been synonymous with notoriety and impunity.
This is especially so in Mombasa, where the late patriarch Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla and some of his sons held sway until he was killed in a hail of bullets in the Netherlands in 2000.
Like all prominent families, the Akasha clan embodies a mix of the good and the bad. Naturally, family members proclaim innocence but, significantly, most of them have lived within the law, avoiding jail or being freed on appeal after conviction.
Last week, the late patriarch’s widow, Fatuma, lamented that the Akasha family has been a victim of hostile propaganda and vicious conspiracies by rival businessmen and families, and had never traded in even an ounce of narcotics
This followed the extradition of the late Akasha’s sons, Baktash and Ibrahim, which presents the most viable opportunity to test claims that this family, which has roots in the Middle East but migrated to Kenya over 60 years ago, has engaged in drug trafficking.
The polygamous Akasha clan has been divided by decades of internal feuds pitting the children of one widow against the children of another. These feuds led to violent clashes, perhaps death but also reconciliation.
But not all the Akasha children are associated with crime — some live quiet lives in Mombasa and abroad. Many who were associated with the internal feuds or faced court before have mended their ways or left to live abroad and resumed normal lives.
Following his father’s death in Amsterdam on May 3, 2000, Baktash emerged as the heir of a vast financial empire that runs across three continents.
Besides charisma and the proverbial nine lives, Baktash, 41, who speaks perfect English despite dropping out of primary school in Mombasa Academy, also appears to have inherited his father’s sense of wit, proclivity for crime, bravado and global networks.
It is said that it is these networks that have landed him in deep trouble with US authorities.
In recent years, Baktash, who first married as a teenager, had lured his younger brother, Ibrahim Abdalla Akasha, into his notorious ways.
Both controlled the empire that survived their father’s death and the violent family feuds that over wealth that followed.
Baktash and Ibrahim are sons of Fatuma, the late patriarch’s third wife.
Before his murder, there was order in the Akasha family, and Baktash and Kamaldin — his slain brother from an unidentified woman but raised by Karima (one of the late Akasha’s wives) — were close and acted as bodyguards for their father.
But hell broke loose after their father’s death, apparently over control of the spoils. Kamaldin was killed at the height of the squabbles, sparking a new wave of blame and violent clashes.
Baktash and his half-brother Hassan (son of Karima) publicly accused their other brother, Nurdin Akasha “Tinta”, for Kamaldin’s murder, which remains unsolved to date.
Baktash inherited most of his father’s wealth and took in Kamaldin’s children and the children of a deceased sister.
When journalists were allowed into Fatuma’s home last Thursday, following Baktash’s and Ibrahim’s extradition to the US, she tearfully said, “My family has been a victim of malicious rumours and plots”.
It was the first time ordinary mortals were being allowed into the palatial residences of the Akashas’ highly secured homes, which have historically embodied wealth and splendour but also terror for those who have crossed the paths of the more violent Akasha sons.
Reporters beheld more than 15 daughters and several sons, all gripped by fear and anxiety as Fatuma declared that “these sons of mine are the breadwinners of this family” to demonstrate the central role played by Baktash and Ibrahim.
The daughters in particular displayed beauty and humility, and a more human side of this controversial family.
The slain baron had three wives and also had a child with a fourth woman. Karima was the first wife. Her first born was Habab Noordin. Her other children were Hassan and twin daughters.
Kamaldin was born out of a relation between the late Akasha and an unnamed woman he divorced before marrying Karima.
The third wife was Hayat whose children are daughter Najma Bazuna, son Nurdin ‘Tinta’, Durzia, Feisal and Abdalla.
Fatuma was the fourth woman in the late Akasha’s life and is the mother of Baktash, Warda and Ibrahim.
Habab was jailed for 10 years by a Tanzanian court after he was found guilty of being in possession of Mandrax in 1997. He was later freed after the conviction was quashed.
The Standard on Sunday spoke exclusively to Habab, who lives a low profile life in Mombasa. He is regarded as the voice of reason and has mediated several family squabbles.
He declined to say much about his clan but disclosed that the family came to Kenya during colonial times when his grandfather, Abdalla Ibrahim, came from Sudan after years in Iraq.
He said his father, whose date of birth he did not disclose, established a transport firm and formed the Kenya National Transport Company before selling it to the Government after independence.
Tinta lives and operates mining and jewellery businesses in Sudan where Habab’s twin sisters are married.
The Akashas have vast interests in real estate in Mombasa and Nairobi besides owning properties in Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Sudan.
Following Akasha’s murder, his fractious family descended into property feuds and succession wars over billions in cash kept in banks in Kenya and abroad besides investments in gold and copper mines in Zambia and South Sudan.
There were also extensive investments in real estate and the transport sector in Kenya, Switzerland, Sudan and Lebanon.
Akashas’s involvement in narcotics has always been shrouded in controversy.
Although some reports suggest the senior Akasha introduced the narcotics trade to his arsenal of businesses in the 1970s and 1980s, the family has always denied any association and until now, none has been successfully prosecuted and convicted.
Significantly, many of Akasha sons and their wives were licensed to carry firearms, which they were accused of misusing.
Recently, it was revealed that police had always been aware that the late Akasha’s licensed gun was never recovered after his death and is still being used by one of his sons without licence.
Baktash’s own firearm was withdrawn after he was arrested following the sudden death of his wife at home.
Despite the change of fortunes, the Akasha family appeared to recover from the troubles that followed the partriarch’s death and the family was confident they were about to overcome their extradition to the US.
However, besides legitimate trade, there were suspicions that their drug trade had been revived and expanded with the arrival in Kenya of Vijaygiri Goswami in Mombasa on November 22, 2012.
In November 2014, Mr Goswami, with whom Baktash and Ibrahim have been shipped to the US, admitted he knew the family patriarch in the early 1980s, in Zambia and other nations of southern Africa.
Goswami, who entered Kenya on a business visa through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after leaving a Dubai jail a week earlier, appearred to have been resuming an old friendship.
Credit; Standard Digital Kenya, New York post, Teron Extension and Tv