Feb 5, 2019

The Changing Face of Terror in East Africa

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Terrorism is an ever-evolving threat. Hence both the citizenry and law enforcement agencies need to be aware of the various dynamics involved. In East Africa, for instance, there have been a number of growing trends concerning terror. Based on recent terror activity, we can postulate noteworthy changes in regarding the same. These include the kind of targets, tactics being used, recruitment and radicalization and the interventions employed.

There have been multiple attacks in the Eastern African region. The common denominator is the Alshabaab. As a result, the first nation that comes to mind is Somalia. However, they have carried out operations in several other countries in the area. These include Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.

The terror group is using a blend of both the old tactics and new ones. It uses violence to raise their profile globally. The recent attacks in Kenya and other East African countries are a tactic used by the organization to draw attention to itself and hence solicit funding from global funders. Moreover, the recent Dusit D2 attack revealed that the terror group is recruiting Kenyans and using them to terrorize their own country.

There were claims that the group exploited the aftermath of the attack on Westgate to recruit Kenyans. Evidently, it created sleeper cell whose agents were used in the recent shooting in Dusit D2 hotel complex as it has been recently exposed. Alshabaab has also been gradually changing their targets from arms of the government to soft, vulnerable targets as the Kenyan president noted a while back. Lastly, the terror group is utilizing social media to promote its agenda both in the region and globally. For instance, during the recent attack, the organization reached out to CNN during the attack to confirm their role. Consequently, the tweet became a trending item on the major social media platforms globally.

As aforementioned, the terror group revamped their recruitment efforts after the Westgate attack. Since then, they have been targeting nationals in the respective Eastern African countries. These include both adults and children. Regarding children, the group has been traditionally targeting vulnerable youth in society and luring them with promises of riches. However, the trend has dramatically expanded towards educated and privileged youth as evidenced in recent attacks. The perpetrators were well educated and from well-off backgrounds.

Further, the group has been abducting children from remote villages in Somalia and Sudan and forcefully recruiting them.
The primary intervention used to combat the militant group is military action, specifically African Mission Forces in Somali (AMISOM). Amisom is a collaborative peacekeeping mission comprised of Ethiopian, Kenyan, Burundian, Djiboutian and Ugandan troops. The armies’ primary objective is to advance on the Alshabaab territory in Somalia. The African Union-mandated troops have managed to flash out the militant group from most of its strongholds. Consequently, the militia has been prevented from overrunning the country. Somalia has thus had a chance to form a relatively stable national government.

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