A significant number of Al Shabaab and Jihadi fighters in Somalia hail from the greater East African region. Although contentious in certain circles, the claim is validated by the apprehended suspects from recent terrorist attacks and schemes. For instance the Dusit D2 attack was organized and perpetrated by Kenyan born individuals with a woman at the heart of the matter. Therefore, women have been playing a significant role in terrorist activities in the region. However, in recent years Al Shabaab’s presence incidents in the region has been gradually reducing due to AMISOM in Somalia.
The organization’s decline has resulted in a significant number of people who were either caught or surrendered; these individuals seek to return to their home countries. In Kenya, former Jihadi wives have been slowly acculturating back to the community through a program instituted by the government to rehabilitate these individuals. The logic behind the mode is informed by the fact that a significant number of the women were coerced or kidnapped into the Al Shabaab and that they are Kenyan citizens. Although, good-intentioned the process poses a lot of challenges for the individuals and the community.
The women face substantial stigma in society. People cannot fully trust them because they worked with the terrorist group. As a result, their lives entail a heightened amount of scrutiny. This creates a lot of anxiety and uneasy in the women. Furthermore, these individuals are unable to interact meaningfully socially due to the stigma. Although the government has been getting valuable information on the terrorist group’s operations from the Jihadi wives, human rights activist groups have drawn attention to the handling of these individuals. The sustained detention of some of these women could be termed as inhumane. On the other hand, some women fail to properly acculturate into normal socio-economic activities within a particular community due to trauma.
However, there is hope for the process as both the government and the involved NGOs report progress among the affected individuals and communities.