Military attacks on Al Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia have been ongoing for some time now and results of recaptured towns and regions, repulsed attacks, defections by Al Shabaab and Islamic State members and killings of militants are evident and are in fact milestones.
However, Violent Extremism and Terrorism is largely an ideology than it is tangible. This is why Security forces in Kenya are deploying ‘soft power’ as they carry out military operations against jihadists like Al Shabaab on land, air and water.
Al Shabaab has banked on civilian support in the past amid military operations on them, they are well aware of the community legitimizes their ideologies and agendas, then government agencies laying their hands on them will be a far cry.
Al Shabaab’s desperation to be accepted by the community first has been seen in instances where the Al Qaeda linked terrorist outfit has attempted setting laws and regulations to solve domestic wrangles, presenting itself as an alternative government. Better still, the recent ban on plastic bags was just stage managed by the group in order to push their agendas on the community.
Not that the bags are not hazardous, it is a real problem and that is exactly Al Shabaab’s plan, tapping on an existing problem, to seem like they care yet their end game is having unsuspecting civilians under their control
There is no way a group bent to kill the innocent and destroy property could have any human concerns and soft power is the only way of eradicating militants amongst us. Kenyans should therefore, assume societal role and participate in flashing out the Al Shabaab. We will only achieve a terrorist free society by turning down monetary offers just to sympathize with jihadist which includes housing and facilitating their operations against the country.
Destructions and atrocities against humanity as seen in some Arab countries are not a far cry if Kenyans are not on the frontline fighting terrorism in collaboration with security forces. Initiatives like Nyumba Kumi should be taken with dire seriousness in order to fight growing Violent Extremism and prevent the next attack that would be of severe implications on the society.
By citizens joining in community initiatives, militants who hide in plain sight will not have a place in the community. In Somalia, the strategy that has been employed by AMISOM has seen civilians participate in flushing out the militants in towns and regions that have been recaptured by the government.
Under the security campaign ‘See Something Say Something’ individuals are advised to report any suspicious activity or person, may it be someone you are familiar with or a complete stranger.
By the government supporting and developing the ongoing civil initiatives across the country, it is an invaluable contribution to conflict settlement and that will be a win for both civilians and security forces in the fight against Al Shabaab.