UK terrorist who’s unwanted at home completes jail term

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Jermaine Grant in police custody. Photo/Courtesy

A solitary confinement room on block E at the Shimo La Tewa Maximum G.K prison has played host to a prisoner who has not interacted with the outside world for over a decade.

And in the next few days, Jermaine John Grant, who has been labelled “a high-risk terror suspect”, will be walking from prison a free man after completing his sentence.

While where he will call home is not certain yet, Kenyan authorities are working around the clock with the UK government to ensure he is repatriated.

However, during the trial the UK authorities wanted him jailed in Kenya longer.

But at the prison, his name evokes fear, despite his charming smile and relaxed demeanour.

Prison warders at the institution, which had become Grant’s home for over 10 years, say those who guard him are wary of him.

“He is an intelligent man and can easily land you into trouble if you are assigned to guard him, though he keeps to himself most of the time. He is always alert.

He only speaks to guards assigned to him and only when he wants to. He is always jovial and at ease.

He refers to us as his brothers,” said a guard who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press. 

When he was first arrested in 2010, a trial court acquitted him of trying to obtain Kenyan citizenship illegally.

The State, however, appealed the ruling and the matter went to the High Court.

The case was heard for three years and in December 2015, High Court Judge Martin Muya convicted him and sentenced him to a nine-year jail term for being in the country illegally and trying to acquire Kenyan citizenship.

In May 2019, Grant was further sentenced to four years for being in possession of explosives and planning a terror attack.

However, Chief Magistrate Evans Makori noted that Grant had spent many years in jail and no report was tabled in court indicating the time he had spent in jail therefore ordered that the second sentence be served concurrently with the first one.

Authorities at the institution have devised a way of keeping Grant busy as he awaits the completion of his term.

“The Muslim convert loves reading the Qoran, praying and reading newspapers to keep in touch with the outside world.

Since he cannot do menial jobs such as farming and carpentry, he is never allowed to leave his cell,” said the guard.

His stay at Shimo La Tewa has not been easy to the prison authorities since he has to be assigned an unspecified number of guards to watch over him day and night.

“The number of guards he is assigned is never disclosed to anyone since he is believed to be a high-risk terror suspect,” said a guard.

Grant dislikes the high-risk terror convict tag and has been rebellious as a result.

“However, nowadays he easily gets along with any guard assigned to him, unlike in the past when he would scream whenever the door to his cell in block E was opened,” said another guard.

The guards say Grant looks remorseful but he often complains that he was dissatisfied with some aspects of the sentence that has seen him languish in jail for more than a decade.

Though he had indicated his intention to appeal his four-year sentence after his lawyer Chacha Mwita requested for typed proceedings of the judgment, he is yet to file a notice of appeal at the High Court registry.

“He is a man of few words, he has never confessed to planning to commit terrorist acts within the country.

Although at times he talks about his life back at home, he has never been free to speak out on the crimes he committed though he said he was remorseful and ready to go back to Britain and start life afresh,” says a guard at the prison.

Court documents

The guard further revealed that Grant looks forward to the day he will be reunited, with his wife Warda Breik Islam who has since been acquitted in relation to charges of being in possession of explosives.

According to court documents, Grant is married to the 29-year old though their marriage certificate of 18/12/2011 at Mtandoni in Kisauni, Mombasa County lies uncollected at the registrar of persons.

“The details of the groom in the marriage certificate are Mohamed Ibrahim and the bride is Warda Brek Islam, before solemnising the marriage I sought the bride’s consent, and she told me she was in agreement to the marriage, and I therefore solemnised the marriage then registered it. However, after two or three days I learnt that the bride and groom had been arrested,” reads part of a Kadhi’s evidence.

Warda in her unsworn affidavit revealed she was still married to Grant, despite having been separated from him for the past ten years.

“Grant married me after paying Sh50,000 and furniture as dowry, I therefore wish to confirm that the marriage certificate produced in court, and signed by me and my husband on December 19, 2011 is valid.

I have declined marriage proposals from three men since I am still legally married to my husband,” said Warda.

 With limited interaction with other inmates, Grant is said to be allowed outside his cells for 30 minutes to bask in the sun handcuffed. The British Counter terrorism officers still monitor him closely inside the prison.

“He is under our custody for now, however, we cannot release any report about his welfare without having been authorised by his country who are monitoring him closely until his time is over here in jail,” said a senior officer at Shimo La Tewa.

According to the guard, Grant’s health has deteriorated over the years due to lack of a special diet at the institution.

“He usually reacts badly to the routine meal of Ugali and beans served to inmates.  

“As you may have noticed, during his recent appearances in court, he had swellings all over his face as result of what he calls corn flakes (ugali). 

“He reacts so badly to it and considering that it is the main food at Shimo La Tewa he often skips his meals and as a result, he has lost a lot of weight with swellings all over his face,” said the officer.

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