The long and ominous shadow of international terror is looming large over Kenya. It is one of those discomforting moments when you are told they are about to strike you but you do not know the day and their chosen target.
As agonising as it is, it is easier to resign oneself to fate, nut this cannot be the best option. Terrorists target innocent civilians to strike fear in the population so as to stem the tide of public interest and concerns against their government.
That is what the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Centre’s twin towers were about. It also motivated the two deadliest attacks on the Kenyan soil — the US Embassy in 1998 in Nairobi, and Kikambala, Mombasa in 2002.
For the third time since the Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia last year, last week the US Embassy warned of an impending terrorist attack in Mombasa, and even asked its citizens to leave the Coastal town.
In reaction, both the acting Head of Civil Service Mr Francis Kimemia and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere assured the country the security machinery was on high alert, and there should be no course for alarm. “We work with (America’s) FBI in this war. We are ahead of criminals,” Kimemia told the country in the wake of the travel advisory issued by the US government to its citizens in Kenya.
Much as the statements of the two gentlemen are reassuring, it does not remove the fear of the unknown now stalking Kenyans, especially given the imminent showdown between KDF and Al-Shabaab members in Kismet.
When KDF entered Somalia, against the backdrop of attacks and abductions in Kenya linked to Al-Shabaab, the country stood by the Government and military. Surprising as the excursion to Somalia was — one of the riskiest military expeditions the Kenyan military has ever undertaken — the public stifled its fear of the unknown and urged them on.
Eight months later, and having it on list of casualties from the war, either in direct engagement with the enemy or victims of the cowardly grenade attacks on civilians, especially in Nairobi, Mombasa and Northern Kenya, Kenyans are still optimistic the reward for the heroic operation is in the future, and that it will lead to a more secure and homely Kenya.
That is one thing KDF and the Government can count on — Kenyans’ unwavering support despite the circumstance of sporadic attacks by the militia and its attempt to create a siege mentality and extreme fear by the civilians.
It is so easy, as we said, to surrender to fate, and in the skewed reasoning associated with fatalism, determine that we leave all to God. But certainly the same God, whatever our religions and beliefs, gave us the power to reason and protect ourselves