Terror group Al Shabaab is a constant and present danger to the socio-economic livelihood of Kenyans due to its frequent attacks in remote areas near Somalia.
While it appears Al Shabaab’s main targets in the borderland regions are security agencies and non-local Kenyans, such as teachers, nurses, and mechanics, Kenyan Somalis also suffer as targets of recruitment, which are used as guides and foot soldiers.
The attacks on security agencies and non-local Kenyans are double-pronged.
First, Al Shabaab targets the security agencies due to their frontline duties of safeguarding Kenya’s territorial integrity as well as protecting the lives of its citizens.
The duty of securing Kenya’s borders interferes with Al Shabaab’s free movement, strategies, and other agendas.
The attack on non-local Kenyans drives a wedge and creates enmity between Kenyans of Somali origin against other Kenyans. The second reason is that the clan system in the Somali community protects ethnic Somalis from one another.
The non-locals are vulnerable to Al Shabaab attacks due to the absence of clan-like local mechanisms in protecting them. Where ethnic Somalis are attacked, the clan is bound to seek retribution, either in form of blood-paying sacrifice (diya) or retaliatory measures.
Despite these incessant attacks, Kenya has to a large extent been successful in thwarting and reducing continuous Al Shabaab attacks. The Al Shabaab militia is however seen to be banking on support from Somalis who end up being mistreated and killed just like foreign fighters in the group.
They are made to believe that they have an upper hand having hailed from the community whereas no special treatment is availed for them. Seeing that the militants highly rely on ethnic clashes and shortcomings of the government in such regions, security agencies are closely working with community leaders so as to protect Somalis from the misguided narrative.