January 29, 2021

Youth with drug addiction vulnerable to radicalization

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Young people and teenagers are the most vulnerable group for radical influences due to the fact that they are the most energetic and dynamic social group prone to social protest and high-risk behaviors. Another risk factor for young people to become involved in extreme activities is drug addiction.

Extremism and drug addiction have common ground. Being global in nature, both phenomena have destructive character and serious consequences for humanity. Violent crimes are often carried out by aggressors being drunk or under the influence of psychoactive substances

Extremist organizations are often funded by financial resources obtained from drug trafficking. A 2016 report commissioned by the European Union associated Al-Shabaab with heroin trafficking, transporting it from ports in areas it controls to Europe and also cocaine trafficking into Kenya.

A report by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) has shown that children as young as four are using alcohol and other substances. The report blames the exposure of children to drugs to poor parenting; saying children whose parents or guardians consume drugs or alcohol are more likely to become users themselves.

We must now consider what the future holds for our children and the nation at large. Not only for security against terrorism, but for our struggle against the tragedy of drug abuse, the crime and violence that accompany drug abuses and trafficking.

These issues are inextricably linked. They are linked because violence is terrorism, whether a shopping mall is blown up or a whole family is hacked to death as it recently happened in Kiambu County. They are linked because terrorists and drug traffickers are often the same people or at least closely associated. They are linked because drug trafficking finances terrorism. They are linked because techniques used to evade authorities are almost identical in drug trafficking and terrorism. Drug traffickers’ criminal methodology is applicable to terrorists, and vice-versa.

For those reasons, it is very difficult to have measurable success against terrorism without measurable success against drug abuse and drug trafficking. The Kenyan people need to know that drug abuse and illegal drug trafficking feeds terrorism, just as it feeds crime.

Law enforcement alone is not the answer to the problems of drugs or terror. Aggressive coordinated programs of public awareness, proper parenting, education, civic action, corporate involvement, along with the use of law enforcement and the justice department are essential if we are to prevail over terrorism and the drug epidemic.



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