Police in Zanzibar are in rigorous search for key information over the communications of the key leaders and sponsors of the radical religious group dubbed Uhamsho which caused a three-day unrest early this week.
Those on the police scrutiny include group top leader Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed, The Guardian on Sunday has established.
The search comes three days following havoc that led to extensive disruption of social and commercial activities between from Saturday to Tuesday. A number of shops and churches were set ablaze and properties worth millions of shillings were stolen.
It has been established that police are seeking to establish Sheikh Ahmed’s group’s close allies, those who have been in contact with him.
The purpose is to raise awareness as to what sort of people were involved and their strategic plans, as the group has vowed relentless campaigns through public rallies and sabotage.
This paper has also gathered that police want to collect useful information in regard to residences of Ahmed’s allies as well as their main activities and backgrounds.
"This group(Uamsho) has a wide network, and initial investigation has found out that it communicates with several institutions including religious leaders, politicians, journalists and some public officials," noted one of the sources.
Apart from Sheikh Ahmed and his associates, close follow-up is being conducted over five prominent businessmen following suspicious reports connecting them with foreign financial assistance pouring into Zanzibar through their personal bank accounts.
Reports say police have names of some of civil societies and lawyers believed to be offering assistance on the plans to halt the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which has existed since April 1964. This section of people would be interrogated by security authorities in the next few days.
Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa has confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation to establish Sheikh Ahmed’s network and that further arrests were possible in due course.
Commissioner Mussa said since the group intensified its operations there has been increased operational costs especially for hired vehicles to carry the followers from one point to another, a sign of the group being sponsored by well endowed people yet to be known.
"Their operational costs convince us that there are financiers; we have to know their mission," Commissioner Mussa intoned, elaborating that he was not ready to go into details but said police search was at an advanced level.
He explained that so far 77 people have been charged in court in connection with the riots, insisting that the order banning all unauthorised marches and public rallies would stay.
He said the police would be forced to use force to halt such activities.
"We have informed the (Zanzibar) Mufti (top religions leader) to pass this information to his people. If they say they will continue, we say nothing will go ahead; the order is still on. We have ordered that they should be served a letter from the Mufti’s office to that effect," affirmed Commissioner Mussa.
The Zanzibar police head said that his office had also established that the group has been recruiting young people below 18 years of age. Some of them have little knowledge on matters related to Islamic religion, he added.