IntroductionIt is well-known that terrorism is a global challenge, affecting both the developed and developing countries alike. The recent military attacks against ISIL, Boko Haram, AL-Shabab and Al Qaeda operatives underlines the magnitude of the situation that has seen terror attacks in Britain, France, Turkey, Nigeria and even the United States of America. In line with this challenge, the vulnerability of installations in these countries highlights the potency of terror activities even in the wake of technological and security revolution. It is through this weight that the recently-elected President Trump vowed to obscure travelers from Muslim countries in the efforts to militate against the development of terror cells within the confines of the great nation.
In Africa, Kenya has suffered from horrific attacks orchestrated by terror cells from the neighboring Somalia. To a large extent, it is notable that the country has not been able to combat terror attacks against its civilian and foreign population effectively. It is high time that researchers analyzed the issue and scrutinize the challenges curtailing the government’s effort to counter these organized terrorist groups with global affiliations. It is worth noting that the emergence of Islamic Extremists has increased over the years, which is pale in comparison to the colonial regimes.
It is important to note that Kenya was first targeted way back in the 70s, where the Norfolk Hotel was targeted by insurgents. The second major attack occurred in 1998, following the bombing of the US Embassy buildings in Nairobi. The 1998 attack occurred simultaneously with an attack on the neighboring Tanzania. The hundreds of fatalities and damages associated with the massive explosion exposed the country to the reality of the modern age, which are increased security and vigilance efforts. Just the other day, the country played host to a band of terrorists who overtook a shopping mall, taking hostages while killing other indiscriminately in a three-day siege, which ended after the military’s decision to bomb the building with insurgents inside. The confusion and chaos that marred the security exercise exposed the gaps in the security agencies, which even led to security agents shooting one another within the expansive Westgate Mall, also in Nairobi.
Security Challenges Facing Kenya
The responsibility to safeguard the lives of Kenyan residents fall under the authority of the law enforcement agencies, which are supposed to collaborate with international partners in sharing information and intelligence about the probability of terror attacks. The Kenyan government in partnership with other East African countries has proceeded with military incursions into Somalia since 2011. The efforts to strangle Al Shaba’s strongholds have seen the unceremonious attacks on military bases with extraordinary resistance from Islamist Forces. Retaliatory attacks have encumbered President Uhuru’s administration, including the attack on innocent church goers and even a university.
The main challenge facing Kenya’s struggles against Al Shabab include the extensive porous border with Somalia, which allows easy entry of guns and armaments necessary for terror attacks. If that is not enough, it is reasonable to assume that the security agencies are riddled with corruption, allowing undocumented immigrants into the country after an exchange of cash. It is these incidents that have led to the mushrooming of terror cells within nondescript parts of the country. Furthermore, the terror groups have received training and logistical support from international offshoots, which empower the morale and tenacity of these attacks and suicide bombers. The groups’ affiliation with AL Qaeda has greatly exposed the country to specialized operatives with the resources and skills to even attack information and security apparatus.
The task is further compounded the presence of a heavily populated refugee camp, which is filled with undocumented immigrants to the brim. The vulnerability of such an installation rests in the development of terror cells that have increased chances of being registered as Kenyans. The extensive refugee camp has played host to top-level terror operatives while also serving as a facility for the safe and undetected storage of terror loot. It is also notable that the refugee camp also provides the perfect conditions for radicalization, which has lured many poverty-stricken youths into Al Shabab. It is these conditions coupled with the fact that Kenya’s security apparatus is not sufficiently equipped to handle rising caseloads of terror investigations that make it difficult for security operatives to strange the terror organization.
How Kenya is Fighting Terrorism
The realization that Kenya’s security agencies have been found wanting has exposed the country’s vulnerability to the wider terror networks rooted within the country. It is worth noting that the country is among the bottom 50 nations in the world after considering the cross-border tension coupled with a turbulent Eastern African political environment. It is worth noting that the neighboring South Sudan also share the border with Somalia, increasing the frequency of weapons trade with terror agents. South Sudan has also faced long-term squabbles that have led to civil wars and political instability.
Kenya has also contributed troops to AMISOM, which refers to the African Union Mission in Somalia. These troops have collaborated with international partners from all corners of the world, including US’ partnership through capacity building and the sale of weapons such as drones with attacking or surveillance capabilities. Such tactical cooperation has led to the planning and execution of Operation Linda Boni in 2015, which was concerned with flushing out the terrorists holed up within the expansive forest that also straddles the porous border. It is also interesting that the Kenyan government also orchestrated plans to build a wall running all through the border with Somalia so as to deter illicit movements to and fro the country.
It is also worth noting that Kenya’s security agents have orchestrated operations to root out Islamic Fundamentalism, which helps snuffle the radicalization process of Kenyans into the terror group. The government has undertaken several security operations in Nairobi and Mombasa, arresting or even killing radical preachers in charge of terrorist affiliated mosques. Sheikh Aboud Rogo was violently killed in the wake of extensive security attacks against Muslim leaders hell-bent on swaying poor youth into extremism, with the lure of money and social status. These operations were conducted in the form of operation Usalama Watch, increasing the policing of Muslim neighborhoods.
Consequences of Terrorism
It is ironical how Kenya suffers from international relations damages, especially when developed countries blacklist the country due to increasing risk of terrorism. Kenya and other countries grappling with the issue have repeatedly been targeted due to their warm relations with developed countries. The blacklisting has led to dwindling economic returns, especially in the tourism sector that contributes a large portion of the country’s GDP. Mombasa and Lamu are world-renowned tourism destinations, which are stymied by terrorist raids and kidnappings targeting foreign nationals. It is also reasonable to assume that increased security efforts will deviate more financial resources to security, leaving little for a much-needed development agenda for the ambitious middle-income state. Such scenes leave the country in need of foreign investment and debts from international financial institutions from all over the world, increasing the burden of repaying these development loans plus interest.
The ultimate impact of all these activities is increased vigilance not only from the government but also private entities in the economy. In other words, responsibility has been shared through increased private investment in secure technologies, which have played a crucial role in identifying terrorism threats. It means the proliferation of security checks has indirectly increased demand for security services, which lead to the creation of specialized security services that also contribute favorably to the striving Kenyan economy.
- Aronson, Samuel L. “Kenya and the Global War on Terror: Neglecting History and Geopolitics in Approaches to Counterterrorism.” African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies: AJCJS 7, no. 1/2 (2013): 24.
- Bundotich, Josphat Kiprono. “Challenges in Counter Terrorism in the Third World Countries. A Case Study of Kenya.” Ph.D. diss., University of Nairobi, 2013.
- BBC News. Al-Shabab Supporter ABoud Rogo Mohammed killed in Kenya. 27th august 2012. Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-19390888
- Country Reports: Africa Overview. US Department of State. Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism. 2015. Source: https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2015/257514.htm
- Lind, Jeremy, Patrick Mutahi, and Marjoke Oosterom. Tangled Ties: Al-Shabaab and Political Volatility in Kenya. No. IDS Evidence Report; 130. IDS, 2015.
- Ongiri, Isaac. Kenya’s Security Ranked among the Worst in Africa. Daily Nation Newspaper, 2013. Source: http://mobile.nation.co.ke/news/Kenya-security-ranked-among-the-worst- in-Africa/1950946-2031858-format-xhtml-67cr18/index.html