Home News in English How Corruption And Impunity Are Aiding Terrorism In Kenya

How Corruption And Impunity Are Aiding Terrorism In Kenya

As the country struggles with jihadists, two concerns may complicate the counter-terror war and thus force authorities to revisit their strategy: One, the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is pulling out of Somalia in 2021, and two; the new terrorist is no longer the foreigner but Kenyan.

The planned military drawdown has left experts confused on what next for Somalia and the anti-terrorism war worldwide. For over 10 years, Amisom was a bulwark against terror, but the mission is now exiting without clear plans on how to secure Somalia thereafter. This development is likely to have a huge bearing on regional security. Seemingly, Kenya is yet to remodel its strategy in light of the expected military withdrawal. Kenya is a powerhouse — politically, militarily and economically — in this part of the world. And on paper, it is governed by one of the world’s best counter-terror strategies. So, why is Kenya a sitting target for extremists?

On April 6, 2015, South Africa’s Daily Maverick posed: “Why does Kenya’s counter-terrorism strategy keep failing?” From the outset, it is instructive to disabuse Kenyans of claims that the country is vulnerable owing to its lengthy leaky border with Somalia, and its peacekeeping role in the war-torn country. Nothing could be farther from truth. Kenya’s military contingent to the Amisom is far less than what Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi each have deployed in the war-torn country.

Ethiopia has 1,640 km of shared border with Somalia; Kenya has just 700km. The problem is the nexus between corruption, impunity, and political patronage in Kenya’s counter-terror strategy. The country is “leaky” because political leaders and security agents have allowed themselves to be driven by selfish interests — not national values. The counter-terror strategy is “porous” because, in practice, it’s haphazard, knee jerk, ad hoc and reactionary. It is haphazard because it is stereotyped against the Somali and Muslim, corruption drives it, reactionary because anti-terror authorities are corrupt and always relapse to slumber until jostled by a blast here and there, and unreasonable because it evades the role of community policing.

Ideally, the public should be the key plank of any counter-terror strategy. Indeed, in Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, community policing is the driving pillar against Al- Shabaab. Local people identify and report suspicious elements within their neighbourhoods. Not in Kenya where, as was evident in the Dusit 2 hotel raid last month, architects of evil easily operate within communities. “The (counter-terror) strategy that Kenya uses to address terrorism (has) still not addressed preventive terrorism measures such as enhanced partnerships between government ,,, and domestic (non-state) actors to counter extremism and radicalisation,” Peter Gauitiku noted in his MA thesis at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi.

In the dusitD2 2 case, the neighbours of the plotters were suspicious of the strangers but did not alert security personnel. Public participation apart, the legislative architecture of the counter-terror strategy is modelled on the infamous Security Laws (Amendments) Act 2014 whose approach is to serve multiple interests beyond just security: Make money; gain political mileage by emasculating media and Opposition; and deal with the terrorist.

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