Terrorism is defined as the illegal use of violence and intimidation tactics often against civilians in pursuit of extremist objectives. Therefore, politics is an integral factor in the equation. It can be used as a force to counter the weight of terror. We can see this occurrence in Kenya in the wake of the recent attacks.
The government has invested heavily in fighting terror in recent times. The relevant security agencies have been revamped with the appropriate resources for intelligence gathering, collaboration and rapid response to terror attacks. Accordingly, we witnessed a speedy response by the security forces in the most recent attack which was vital to the successful rescue of the dozens of stranded civilians. The government has also been mobilizing support in the fight against terrorism both regionally and internationally. For instance in January this year, we saw the president assure regional leaders of the steps his government is taking to combat the threat as well as calling for collaboration in fighting Al Shabaab. Additionally, we saw international intervention in the matter as the United Kingdom’s increased funding in counterterrorism efforts.
Kenyan politicians have been actively taking a stance against Al Shabaab attacks in the country. These among other political interventions performed by the leaders both in government and in opposition have been gradually generating a ripple effect of positive results regarding the matter. For instance, thanks to politicians Kenyans have remained united even in the face of imminent danger and uncertainty. Terror attacks as evidenced by history have the potential to polarize a state. Kenya being a multi-ethnic country made up of over 40 tribes is a prime candidate for a division. However, we have been seeing politicians rise to the occasion to console the affected while calling for unity and religious/ethnic tolerance. These actions are significant in keeping the country united considering the stereotypes associated with both the Somali and Muslim communities. However, people are able to overcome these prejudices due to the political interventions made.
Politicians also play a role in raising public awareness on the issue in society. Through the various public forums, we have witnessed political leaders talk about the matter highlighting its dangers to the community aside from the obvious carnage. Further, they vehemently condemn the attackers and the recruitment means which often creates public sensitization. Lastly, we have seen some political leaders take up advocacy in the communities most affected.
Lastly, the clergy is the last pillar in the political interventions involved in fighting terror. The church or mosque in any particular community plays a central role in building a mordant force that overlooks the individual cultural, religious and political persuasions. Religious leaders thus help demystify propaganda that could potentially harm the country. For example, Christian clergy has on several occasions been defending their Muslim brothers saying that their faith does not advocate the violence that is perpetuated in their name. On the other hand, Muslim clerics are preaching peace and condemning the extremists which in turn help set the record straight among ignorant circles.