This piece was written back in March 2010 but I place it here following the dramatic killing of Most wanted Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in the first week of May 2011.
The US Ambassador-at large for war crimes issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, a few weeks ago said that Felicien Kabuga was still hiding in Kenya. Rwanda Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo is then reported to have said that her country believed Kenya’s word that Kabuga, Africa’s most wanted fugitive, was not hiding in the country.
image from tenorama.com
How wonderful it would be if the US would just put their money where their mouth was, back up their rhetoric and accusations and arrest the man. Somehow I suspect that they too have no clue as to where this war crimes suspect is and they use the Kabuga issue to embarrass the Kenya government from time to time. A specialist in locating missing people said to me the other day, “A man does not simply disappear into thin air especially not one with a delicious price tag of $5 million on his head.”
The Kenya government is caught between a rock and a hard place because it would be virtually impossible to prove that a suspect was not in Kenya unless they could prove that he was elsewhere or else – provide a corpse.
So where is this old boy – Kabuga? They say a painting is worth a thousand words but I believe that in order to solve the Kabuga riddle it is worth visiting the world of fantasy and imagination. A place where all things are possible…indeed a place where a Most Wanted man could disappear before our very eyes. In so doing it is hoped that we can challenge those who maintain that Kabuga is alive and well in Kenya to prove that he did not, infact meet with some terrible end. Perhaps then we can put this issue to rest -and I can go back to watch the cricket.
This story is best read with a large block of sea-salt.
A close friend invited me over to his home and we went to a Jamuhuri day bash. We were in the capital of this small and mountainous country where African despots and others come to hide their cash. No not Swaziland – There were people from all different nationalities as is normal in these events. By a stroke of luck amongst the people seated just by our table was a young lady from Kenya.
The Kenyan lady, Miriam worked as a translator here at the Kenya mission where the party was being held. She was married to Hendri Schmidt. We learnt that Mr Schmidt worked at the consulate of another european country. The evening went very well indeed with great music, fine wine and delicious food and when the time came to finally bring the party to a close we all felt it was far too early to be going home. The Schmidts invited my friend and me back for a quiet drink at their lovely apartment. We sat and chatted till late and at some point our conversation ventured into the murky world of politics. Mr Schmidt excused himself for a moment. He came back with a small folder marked Top Secret in red ink.
He said, the folder contained the statement that he had taken from a man who was claiming political asylum at the consulate. They got dozens of satements every day but Schmidt had kept this one at home because of the amazing story. He had removed the front page to protect the subjects identity
PAGE 2 STATEMENT
As serving officers in the elite protection force we were were routinely assigned to look after visiting dignitiaries and other VIPs. We gave support to the regular secret service and bodyguard teams but ours was essentially a background operation.
One morning around the first week of August I was called in to see our commanding officer. She glanced at me as I shut the door and continued reading from a khaki folder on her desk. She then stood up and walked up to me and stood there staring me up and down before telling me that she had received orders that I was to go on annual leave with immediate effect.
We learn not to question orders very early in this industry so I collected my belongings and headed for the gates. I was vaguely aware of a civilian saloon car parked by the perimeter fence as I neared the gate but I did not give it much thought. I knew the guards quite well and we had a bit of a chit chat before I went through the gates.
There is a frequent Matatu service between the camp and the city and I headed for the bus stop about 300 metres up the road. Here there was a bit of a bend in the road so that from this spot you could not see the gates of the military camp. The same white saloon car drew up beside me the back doors opened and two men grabbed me and put me in the middle of the back seat. One of them produced a hood and placed it over my head. I relaxed as I realised that they meant me no real harm – and I guess they too were relieved that I had not put up an unnecessary struggle. After driving in silence for about half an hour I dropped my head as if dozing off and started to snore gently. I could “hear” the smiles on their faces as they too eased down and pretty soon they were sleeping like babies.
It was dark when we got to our destination. They pulled me out of the car and the driver barked some orders to the two goons who held me between them. they took me to a small room and stood waiting for further instructions. The driver barked a fresh set of orders and walked off and one goon pulled off my hood.
The smells and sounds of the farm came rushing to me when the hood came off – I thought that pretty odd. Two minutes later the multi-lingual driver came in with another figure – a senior ranking officer from our elite team. He was the one that gave orders to our commanding officer. He ordered the room cleared and asked me if I wanted anything. I wanted to know where I was and why I had been brought here in such a fashion – but you do not question a senior officer and so I just asked for some food and water.
We were here – he explained – on a most secret government mission. A senior scientist from a neighbouring country was in the process of developing some type of vaccine to protect our pig population from the devastating effects of swine flu. It was important that this was done secretly – and that he was given adequate protection. In other words, he was a fugitive from his country and there were people out there looking for him. The officer said that in his view it would be much better for me if I did not know the scientist’s name. He explained that the nature of our work drew speculation from all quarters and it was our duty as professionals to avoid adding to it by engaging in careless thinking and loose talk. We were here to do a job and by God we would accomplish the mission!
It was time to meet the Scientist – we went into the main house and were shown into a lavishly furnished living room. The scientist and his wife were seated on a large leather sofa watching the evening news courtesy of KTN. They turned to us as we entered and the lady of the house waved at us to be seated. I recognised the grey-haired “scientist” and realised that the speech from my commander a few minutes prior was meant to warn me about who this man was. The US government had placed a sum of $5million on his genocidal head.
Life at the farm was pretty cool. There were few visitors. The AP men at the gate kept curious callers at bay. One needed special clearance from the ministry of Internal Security no less to gain access to this government scientific facility. I learned from the domestic staff that we were in a farm called the Grip farm – Government Research Into Pigs and that we were some twenty-five miles north of Eldoret. Pig buyers called on a Wednesday to pick livestock for market. Pig fatteners would collect their piglets on a Thursday and on Friday it was the turn of the feed merchants to deliver all the animal feed needs for the week. The rest of the time I spent patrolling the complex looking for weaknesses and potential points of attack. I also began to write notes of this operation for my own record.
Monday morning October (date deleted) and another beautiful day on the cards – the sky was blue and the birds were in song just as insects buzzed about. The pigs shrieked in their pens and the black-and-white cows swished their tails as they grazed in the meadow. I could hear the wood cutter’s axe echoing in the valley. In the distance a tractor was raising a cloud of red dust as workers prepared a field to plant maize – the farm sounds were like music to my soul. It was great to be alive.
I felt the first strains of tension when one of the APs who was always with the scientist, a nice lad called Sam, came up and asked me to fetch my boss.
Sam should never have left his post – why hadn’t he used his radio – what was going on. I found the commander in the driveway by the front of the main house. He was talking to a man seated in the back of a shiny limousine. When they saw me approach the man rolled up his window – the tinted glass immediately hiding him in his dark tomb. Then the car was gone.
The shrieking of the pigs grew louder. The commander asked me to walk with him back to his office. His normally jovial face was grim and his eyes held a far away look. He ushered me in and closed the door. From the corner of my eye I noticed that he locked the door and put the key in his pocket.
He opened a drawer at his desk and pulled out a bottle of Teachers and two small glasses. As he poured, he told me that our mission here was over. He did not look me in the eye. He was looking at the drink in his glass. The scientist, he said, was tired of running. He now believed that the vaccine rightfully belonged in his country where they had spent years in its development. He wanted to give himself up. Unfortunately it is never that easy. Yes he may have provided the finances and organisational skills but it is others who did the real dirty work – they were aware that if he cooperated – It would be Arusha for them too.
He looked at me – It would have been a totally unacceptable position. The scientist’s Kenyan pals who had made him welcome, protected him and entered into all sorts of deals with him, they too feared that they would be implicated and exposed – the commandant took another a sip of the whiskey. I felt a shudder as I realised why he was speaking in the past tense.
This was all too fantastic. I could not believe what I was hearing. The commandant was spelling it out that it had been decided – kill the “scientist” – chop him up as we did so many times before and feed him to his shrieking pigs- without a body there could be no conclusive proof that he was dead and the meddling Americans were free to maintain the spotlight on Kabuga whilst the others who actually coordinated and carried out the murderous orders were able to clear up their trails and evade justice. That also explained the locked door – I too would have to be silenced. The young Sam must have had a Special protector. He had been sent away from his post in order that he could be spared.
The commandant poured another couple of drinks all the while looking at his watch. The pig noises were driving him crazy so he stood up to shut the window. I had only the slimmest of chances – the bottle of Teachers was half full. I grabbed it by the neck, raised it and brought it down on his head, just as he was turning back from the window – he tried to go for his gun – but he was slow in motion and I saw the bottle smash into his face between his nose and left eye – spraying booze, glass, flesh and blood everywhere. He slumped onto the table and I grabbed the key and made my escape.