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Soft Power: A Mentor Program To Fight Terrorism In Kenya

In the Majengo district of the southern port city, a mentoring program is trying to stop al-Shabaab​ from recruiting young people.

Locals boarding the Likoni Ferry bound for Mombasa
Locals boarding the Likoni Ferry bound for Mombasa
Marion Douet

MOMBASA — The kamikaze who blew himself up on January 15 in the Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi lived in Majengo. Several members of al-Shabaab, the Islamic terror group who carried out the attack that killed 21, also had close links to this low-income neighborhood in the coastal Kenyan city of Mombasa. Located on the island that is the heart of Mombasa, the neighborhood is made up of a few lively streets, lined with tall white buildings that feature arcades that are typical of the architecture of the great port city.

The district is known as a center of Islamic radicalization. Two imams, About Rogo and Abubaker Shariff — otherwise known as "Makaburi" ("tomb" in Swahili) — urged young people to join the al-Shabaab fight in the early part of this decade. At that time, the elegant white and green minaret of the Masjid Musa mosque, where they operated, displayed black flags celebrating the glory of the Somali Islamist militia. Since then, the two preachers have been killed, and the black flags removed. But with each new terrorist attack in Kenya, the name Majengo reappears.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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