Kenya Must Stay on Top of its Game in War on Terror
The incident in Garissa where the suspected terrorist agents went on rampage, attacking and killing dozens of people raises many issues of concern pertaining to our ability to provide security for Kenyans, particularly those who live in far flung areas close to border with Somalia. It is an open fact that the Alshabaab was going to engage in counter offensive to respond to our military operations in Somalia targeting to dismantle and destroy their organization.
Since operations Linda Mpaka was launched almost a year ago, we have seen an upsurge in terror related attacks, where grenades are hurled at public places notably churches and bars to inflict damage on innocent people as they congregate for worship or enjoy their leisure time. As it were, besides opposing Kenya’s involvement in Somalia, the terror groups intentions as an affiliate of distasteful Alqaeda, is a standard one, - to instil fear through mass casualties, seek undue media attention, and to attempt to shape or influence policies and agenda that affects them.
By now, unless we are daft, their scheme of manoeuvre and targeting should not be a surprise to us. We know, theirs is an ideology of extremity with fundamentalist attitude to advocate and entrench the “Total” application of sharia laws; with the core values being ruthlessness and subjugation of human rights and freedoms. For these reasons, the Alshabaab perceive the AMISOM led efforts as a crusade against them by infidels. It is what informs the motive as to why churches have borne the brunt of vicious and cowardly attacks.
Without getting nervous, with this characterization of Alshabaab, we must remain on guard, not erratically but on a consistent basis, until such a time our mission to dislocate and incapacitate the terror group is achieved. Take it to the bank; complacency is a sure death sentence for any security organization.
Our model of security management and capacity to deal with challenges poised by asymmetrical forces is under scrutiny at this time. I have never understood how Garissa church raid could take place beating all the security system in its entirety. Yet before zero hour, the actual time when terrorist hit their target, they do invest time and resources to identify target, carry out reconnaissance, surveillance up to, and including rehearsals before accomplishing their destructive mission.
Certainly the reactions to deal with aftermath of the attack are expected and normal. Total security can never be achieved, not even by the United States with their unrivalled capabilities. But conventionally, all security organizations that have won confidence for their ability to deter and stop threats have had in place some common enduring capabilities – Standard relevant procedures, effective tools at their disposal, and highly professional, resourceful security agents.
There is need for a paradigm shift in our long view on how to deal with prevailing security challenges. We must depoliticise security, move away from showbiz tendencies like the idea of forming rings around the churches and instead embark on serious business. Reshuffling of administrators or police chiefs cannot solve the problem; it does not add value, build confidence – not in psychological operations. There is need to move with speed to reorganize concepts at basic levels, invest heavily in equipment to multiply our deterrent and preventive capacities while providing leadership and direction at the political and strategic levels to sustain public confidence. We must simply be incharge, to control our borders against all violations.
This is a critical moment, an election year and with our troops deep inside Somalia. Our resolve to deal with security threats must grow stronger more than ever before, in the face of these challenges.
By Mohamed Adan Wato, Major (Rtd.). Mohamed is the author of the book "Walking a Tight Rope Amidst Kenya Post Election Violence".
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