Thursday, March 27, 2014

TERRORISM IN KENYA: TIME FOR KIDS' GLOVES IS OVER

There has been a lot of "kicking around the bush" on the matter of terrorism in Kenya. Almost all of us - including the government - seem to have no clue on how to deal with this monstrous menace.

We only know of the terror group Al Shabaab and its affiliation to the global enemy, Al Queda. We know Al Shabaab was behind the Westgate attack in Nairobi last September in which 60 people were killed and many others injured. And we know it has attempted many - some successful, some not - attacks in several parts of our country mainly in the capital city and in the coastal resort of Mombasa.

But I doubt whether we know Al Shabaab's actual strength; who finances it; who its collaborators in Kenya are; where it gets its deadly arms; how it smuggles those arms into Kenya; and the extent of its present or future plans of destruction. If we did, we would not be groping in the dark as we are. We are left to rely on foreign security agents including America's FBI on matters of intelligence and technical support.

The terror groups know our weaknesses. They know of the many loopholes in our law enforcement systems; they know of rampant corruption in our public offices allowing illegals to acquire national documents and enter and exit freely through our borders; and they know that many of the weak spots including malls, stadiums and places of worships are poorly guarded.

How for example, could one explain the discovery of empty ammunition boxes at the basement of a major shopping mall in Nairobi recently? How did those boxes pass through the so-called security at the gate to the property? What happened to the ammunition?

The government has given us many assurances that Kenya is safe but those assurances have not sufficiently reassured Kenyans of their security. Visits to malls and to public places have become exceedingly agonising for shoppers given the Westgate memories. What was considered the safest sanctuary, the Church, has now become the target of evil characters. Unable to face our security forces, terrorists are turning to soft targets murdering innocent, unarmed people who cannot defend themselves. No wonder some Churches are asking for arms to defend their congregations.

The latest attack at Likoni is a good example of the cowardly minds of terrorists. Regardless of what anyone says, I feel strongly in my mind and heart that what happened at Likoni was not a common criminal act but a dastardly terror attack.

Time for kids' gloves is over. No government should sit back and tolerate the kind of killings now taking place. That is why I support the express elimination of such characters. However, sometimes I get the feeling that human rights groups are not sincere in their championing of justice. They cannot claim to condemn murders of innocent people while defending the rights of criminals.

That is number one.

Number two, Muslim leaders should not hide behind religion in their defence of criminals in groups such as Al Shabaab which is composed almost exclusively of Muslim adherents. Islam is a religion of peace. Consequently, all Muslims should come out strongly not only to condemn such heinous killings but to uproot anyone within their community who assists or encourages terrorist elements. I believe other than the Government, Muslim leaders bear the biggest responsibility in fighting terrorism within our borders.

Three, wananchi have a role to play. Criminals live amongst us. We know them because they are our children, our fathers, our relatives. We must flush them out from our neighbourhoods by assisting with information. By holding on to crucial security related information we become part of the problem.

For almost two years, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has been engaging Al Shabaab in their hide-outs in Somalia. At the onset, it was thought the engagement would be short and easy. But it has proved timeless and tough. One dead Al Shabaab yields a dozen new recruits; at least this is how it seems.

What started as a ragtag militia inside troubled Somalia about two decades ago has now mutated into a major threat to regional peace in this part of Africa. Al Shabaab's steady growth from a few dozen jobless youths to a heavily armed terrorist organisation of several thousands is now Kenya's biggest internal threat.

Brainwashed into Jihadism with expectations for martyrdom, young people in their twenties chose to be ensnared in a life of murder and destruction, using every tool imaginable, from home-made devices to lethal, sophisticated bombs. Their method of killing is indiscriminate, brutal and almost animal-like. They kill children, women and the elderly, and when not caught saunter to other killing fields, the same way a mason moves from one construction site to another.

Kenyans mourn those who died at Likoni and pray for those now receiving treatment in hospitals. If there is one thing that illustrates the brutality of terrorists, it is the bullet lodged in baby Satrine Osinya's head.


And that is my say.