Kenyan authorities claim to have foiled potential bio-terror attack

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Story highlights

  • Police think the suspects were planning an anthrax attack
  • They also say the extremists were recruiting university students to join ISIS

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)Kenya's police chief says the country's security services have foiled a potentially major terror plot by an unnamed East African terror network with links to ISIS.

The terror plot was aimed at "various targets in Kenya," Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said Tuesday. Police in Kenya and Uganda have so far arrested three individuals: one, a medical student named Mohammed Abdi Ali who was interning at a Kenyan hospital, and the others -- Ali's wife and her friend -- who are now in custody in Uganda. Ali was arrested on Friday.
CNN has not yet been able to independently verify these claims.
    The Kenyan police are currently searching for two other medical interns in Kenya who police say are Ali's accomplices.
    Police say the interns' terror network contacts spread from Kenya to Somalia, Libya and Syria.
    "The suspects were planning large-scale terror attacks akin to the Westgate Mall attack, with the intention of killing innocent Kenyans," Boinnet said in a statement.
    The 2013 attack at the Nairobi mall killed 67 people.
    "His network included medical experts with whom they planned to unleash a biological attack in Kenya using anthrax," Boinnet said.
    A Kenyan court has allowed the Anti-Terror Police Unit to keep Ali for up to 30 days to complete their investigations, according to Boinnet.
    Kenya has long been a target and even at times a base for the al Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab, but ISIS has recently been attempting to gain traction in the region.
    Authorities fear that ISIS is trying to establish a presence in Kenya. Western governments also fear that if the terror group gains decent support and members, ISIS might use Kenya as a base from which to launch attacks on Westerners similar to the Westgate Mall attack or the al Qaeda-linked AQAP attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali in 2015.
    Police say at least 20 young Kenyans have traveled to Syria and Libya to join the ranks of ISIS.
    Kenyan authorities have long worried about radicalization and recruitment of young people in Kenya's schools and universities.