Taskforce to counter violent extremism launched in Nairobi

Chief of Staff to the President and the Head of the Public Service Joseph Kinyua. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

A team has been formed to spearhead campaigns for prevention and countering violent extremism launched in Nairobi.

The team will include all Principal Secretaries and office of the Inspector General.

Chief of Staff to the President and the Head of the Public Service Joseph Kinyua chaired a meeting of over 25 Ministries, Departments and Agencies Monday with an aim of bringing those in the team to use their different mandates and capabilities to prevent and counter violent extremism as part of a cohesive national campaign for the sake of peace, development and national cohesion.

Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe said Kenya has initiated a cross-cutting multi-agency national campaign to prevent and counter violent extremism.

“We wish to inform the public that the government of Kenya has now taken cornet measures to carry out a government wide integrated anti-radicalisation campaigns to be spearheaded by a task force led by all the Principal Secretaries and the Inspector General of Police. It includes all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) without exception,” he said.

He added this is in recognition of the need to bring to bear preventive, mitigation, and rehabilitative measures to complement ongoing counter terrorism efforts.

“This in order to protect our democracy, cohesion and development from the dangerous threats of ideologically-driven extremist radicalization, recruitment and attack.”

The campaign will take place under the National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism, which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in September 2016.

Kiraithe said the plan is to rally all sectors of Kenyan social, religious, and economic life to emphatically and continuously reject violent extremist ideologies and aims in order to shrink the pool of individuals that terrorist groups seek to radicalise and recruit.

The MDAs will be organised in four clusters, which will include-Social Sector, (education, health, cohesion, sports and culture) employment and livelihoods, diversion, rehabilitation and reintegration and regional and global partnerships.

The National Counter Terrorism Centre will work with the different MDAs and clusters to articulate and launch action plans and initiatives that take advantage of existing mandates, priority areas and coordinated multi-agency efforts.

Kinyua pointed to the national urgency of the initiative and will push for it to form an important part of every MDAs work.

The initiative will further complement the ongoing development of County-level initiatives that are bringing together state and no state actors including, County Governments, County Commissioners, security agencies, NGOs, religious leaders, youth and women representatives, researchers and the private sector.

Kiraithe said the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative was Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee was present.

Chatterjee announced the commitment of the UN Country team to the initiative, and their ongoing effort to deliver a UN Programme for the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Kenya under the Delivering As One framework as part of a joint strategy with the government.

The effort will design and deploy development, educational, livelihood development, public health, counter radicalization, and juvenile crime prevention approaches to preventing violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations in Kenya.

Kiraithe also asked organisers of political rallies to liaise with the government security apparatus to ensure that terrorists do not take advantage of political gatherings.

“For large meetings, organisers are reminded to identify adequate disciplined agents to work with the government security services to ensure effective maintenance of law and order.”

Homegrown radicalisation in Kenya is on the rise given Al Shabaab’s growth in neighboring Somalia.

Kenya has become a prime location for recruitment and radicalisation for al-Shabaab.

In 2012, it was reported that Al Shabaab was attracting a large number of Kenyan converts to Islam. In December 2014, it was estimated that Kenyans comprised around 25 percent of Al Shabaab.

Muslim areas in coastal Kenya in particular are areas targeted by Al Shabaab for recruitment.