When Kenya was attacked 20 years ago alongside Tanzania in what was meant to be a twin attack on United States Embassies, a majority of Kenyans then working in Co-operative house, did not have a clue that the attack was orchestrated by Al Qaeda terrorist group.
Both the United States and Kenyan security agencies were caught barefoot in the incident that took more than two hundred lives and saw about 5,000 civilians injured. In hindsight, security forces will tell you we would have prevented the attack had we taken the right measures.
Information later traced back to Osama Bin Laden, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah; top masterminds of the terrorist attack that included 60 calls placed via satellite phone by bin Laden to associates and extreme reading material in their custody would give leads on the group’s course and agenda, and prompt the fight towards the jihadist group in the country and across the world.
Institutions Against Terrorism
Fast forward, efforts towards the fight against terrorism and violent extremism spear headed by the Kenyan government have yielded a more vigilant Kenya and a more aware citizen concerning matters terrorism. Institutions and security departments like Anti Terrorist Police Unit and National Counter Terrorism Centre just to mention a few illustrate how dedicated the Kenyan government is to root out terrorism by dedicating sole institutions and a budget to enable both proactive and reactive operations.
Deployment of Kenya Defense Forces and the National Police Service in Somalia on African Union request and collaboration with international governments in eradicating terrorism both within the country and along our boarders shows a clear intention to protect civilians and the country at large against terrorist groups shamelessly masquerading as religion-oriented outfits
The forces have since been part of military operations and community initiatives and has thus far made milestones by recapturing regions previously ran by Al Shabaab militants and overseeing thousands of defections by Al Shabaab members.
Unlike in the past, security agencies have set up platforms that are enabling real-time sharing of security information through modernized technology systems therefore leaving no loopholes during offensives, foiled attacks and also counter attacks. The collaboration has seen successful and seamless operations launched towards jihadists.
Not only are these forces dealing with violent extremism combatively, but security forces have also implemented ‘soft power’ in regions of Kenya and Somalia where government is working directly with community members under various programmes the likes of Nyumba kumi community policing concept in an effort to enhance security in villages and ‘Peace Cop Brigade’ a police unit in northern Kenya working with the youth in the fight against youth radicalization.
The groups all tailored towards transparency in the community for easy recognition of violent extremists known to blend in with citizens, therefore raising minimal suspicion.
Communication agencies within the government set up for the sole purpose of countering terrorism and educating citizens on violent extremism have also aided in awareness on radicalization, recruitment and violent extremism, these being major phases of terrorism mostly laced with religious connotations meant to insinuate they are on a religious course.
The fight against rogue religious leaders by security forces that has been intensified over the years has prompted a more responsible clergy in the country, therefore, curbing violent extremism and radicalisation on the community level. International allies continue to play an important role in providing ground support and most importantly sharing of intelligence.