Kenya’s experience with Terrorism recently has taken a darker turn. Our very own have turned against us. Reading the newspapers and seeing names like Mahir Khalid Riziki, Osman Hassan Ahmad and Ali Salim Gichunge just breaks one’s heart. These were the names of three of the DusitD2 assailants and guess what? They were Kenyans.
For months after the attack Kenyans mulled over what would actually drive our own youths to attack our country. Some claimed they were paid, some claimed bad parenting, some claimed peer pressure. Truth be told the reason for them joining the Islamist group Al Shabaab in such a heinous act will never be known to us as they fell under heavy gunfire from security agents whose mission was to restore peace and secure Kenya’s sovereignty and right for peaceful existence within its boundaries.
Nonetheless, anti-terrorism police have had cases of Kenyan youth leaving to join the Al Shabaab and as such it is of paramount importance that we as a people stay alert. We should be able to recognise warning signs of radicalisation in our children, friends and family members so that they may not fall prey to the extremist scourge. It is very difficult to know at what stage certain views can become dangerous, or if a child or young person is being exploited and manipulated into becoming a part of an extremist group. Here are a few signs we can look out for and hopefully be a voice of reason that deters our loved ones from buying into terrorist agendas:
- Withdrawal from family and friends, or changing circle of friends
- Hostility towards others
- Talking as if from a script
- Being unwilling to discuss their views
- Increased levels of anger
- Being secretive, particularly around what they are doing on the internet
- Using extremist terms to exclude people or incite violence
- Expressing the values of extremist or terrorist organisations (including political or religious-based grievances)
- Supporting violence and terrorism towards other cultures, nationalities, or religions
- Writing or creating artwork that promotes extremist values
- Talking about being a ‘martyr’
- Possession of extremist literature or other material, or trying to access extremist websites
- Possession of any material about weapons, explosives, or military training
Terrorism is a strange phenomenon but with our resilience and solidarity, we can put a stop to the radicalisation of our people. If you notice these signs or any other suspicious activities kindly get in touch with the Kenya police via 999, 911, or 112. Your call could save a life or even the lives of innocent civilians.