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Trial Of British Terror Suspect Opens In Kenya

5/10/2012 7:14 PM ET

The trial of a British national accused of having links with the radical Somali Islamist militia Al Shabaab, opened at a court in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa on Thursday. The defendant faces charges of plotting to carry out terror strikes in the African nation with the intention of killing civilians.

Prosecutors have linked 29-year-old Jermaine Grant to Samantha Lewthwaite, the British widow of 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay. It is alleged the foiled terror plot involving Grant was financed by Lewthwaite, who is currently a fugitive believed to be traveling using forged passports. Kenyan authorities suspect she is currently in Somalia.

Grant, from Newham in east London, was arrested in December at a flat in a Mombasa suburb. The police also recovered chemicals, batteries and an electric switch used in making bombs from his flat during the raid..

The materials seized in the raid were similar to those used by Germaine Lindsay and the other 7/7 bombers in their attacks on a London bus and three tube trains in which a total of 52 people were killed and scores of others injured.

Grant, who has already been jailed for three years for entering Kenya illegally, has denied allegations that he possessed explosive materials when arrested in December. Three others, including Grant's wife Warda Breik Islam, are facing similar charges in connection with the case.

Although Grant made his initial court appearance on Wednesday, the trial failed to proceed as his criminal file was said to be incomplete. Nevertheless, the trial opened on Thursday, with the first prosecution witness testifying against the defendant.

Grant was first arrested in Kenya near the Somali border in 2008, but managed to escape from police custody. He is believed to have escaped with the help of a group of militants believed to be members of Somalia's al-Shabaab Islamic militant group.

Al-Shabaab is Somalia's most prominent and influential Islamist militant unit, and is branded a terrorist organization by the United States and most of the international community. The al-Qaeda aligned outfit is the military wing of the Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in 2006.

Kenyan troops are currently in Somalia as part of a cross-border operation aimed at driving al-Shabaab militants away from the border separating the two nations. Since their arrival in Somalia last year, Kenyan forces have managed to capture several al-Shabaab strongholds, but the militant group has retaliated with several terror attacks inside Kenya.

by RTT Staff Writer

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