Feb 28, 2019

Homegrown Terrorism: An alternative view

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Much has been said about homegrown terrorism in Western countries especially in the United States where there have been most cases of self-radicalization. Here in Kenya, the phenomenon was of little concern as most Kenyan converts into violent extremism usually tended to cross the border into Somalia and wage their war in and from foreign soil. The Dusit attack, however, changed this perception and provided a new frontier considering that most of the attackers were Kenyan.

Kenya has always been known to be a peaceful and prosperous society, with high moral standards and social responsibility. So what would make a son or daughter of Kenya commit such atrocities against his own motherland? Besides the allure of money, many other factors could lead to this drastic change. While critics may point a finger at the government, the real blame starts at home; at the point where these young people lose touch with their parents and/or guardians. The point where admiration and respect turn to disappointment and hate.

We live in an age where technology has availed a lot of information to the masses, both a blessing and a curse. The moral fabric of the society is now almost totally decomposed and the current leaders, in this case, the parents, have no bearing as to where their succeeding generations are headed. Instead of investing in the futures of their children and their nation, they are re-living their youth like it was not enough. In the words of the late great Bob Marley; “Mothers are killing babies and fathers are sleeping with their daughters” a statement almost perfectly describing this situation. So in essence, the blame lies entirely on parents.

We might not know the exact reasons for the Dusitattackers actions but the above described are definitely a factor. Though they chose brutal and unacceptable means to pass their message, it ultimately stems from a deep desire to change the society as it is. So is there a solution?

MwendaMbijiwe, a Nairobi-based security analyst, thinks that “Government must invest heavily in de-radicalisation programs,” and while this is true, it is somewhat counterproductive because it communicates and implies that most youths are prone to delinquency. If a person is willing to die for a cause, logic dictates that you do not fight them. A subtle but more viable and efficient way would be to address some of the grievances put across by youth vulnerable to radicalization e.g. equality, moral decay, gender parity issues, economic empowerment etc, all of which can be corrected at the family level. Any gradual change in this regard will cause a far-reaching ripple effect that will affect even those Kenyans already involved in terror activities. They will no longer have reasons to look for answers beyond their scope of understanding because “Charity begins at home”.

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