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Two Iranians nabbed in Kenya are illegal migrants

22 September 2014, 15:20

Nairobi - Police said on Monday that two Iranians arrested in Nairobi last week carrying fake Israeli passports are being treated as illegal migrants.

"They will be charged by the immigration authorities for being in the possession of forged passports," John Mulaulu, acting head of the anti-terrorism police unit, told AFP.

"We understand they arrived here from Armenia and wanted to use the forged Israeli passports to go to Belgium. They wanted to go to Europe," he added.

"We believe they are a couple, a man and wife," the official said.

Last week, a counter-terrorism officer told AFP the two Iranians were detained on Thursday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, but that it was not yet established if the pair should be treated as terrorism suspects or illegal migrants.

Security forces have been on high alert as the country commemorates the anniversary of last year's attack by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab militia -- a hardline Sunni group with no known links to Shiite Iran -- on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that left at least 67 dead.

An airport security source said that Kenya was regularly used as a transit point for illegal migrants from the Middle East region -- mainly Iran, Iraq and Syria -- hoping to travel to Europe.

He said the illegal migrants are often caught with fake passports from Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Also read: Uganda cracks down on illegal migrants

Last month, three Iranian nationals were arrested at Nairobi's JKIA airport while transiting to London on fake Greek passports and were jailed for one year.

Iranians are treated with particular suspicion in Kenya, however, as the east African nation is a close ally of Israel.

Last year, a Kenyan court sentenced two Iranians to life in prison for terror-related charges, including possessing explosives allegedly to be used in bomb attacks.


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