Despite better security, it takes one terrorist strike to cause setback

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the Nation from State House, Nairobi following the terrorist attack at Dusit Complex, Nairobi.
That no place in the world is free from terrorism is a depressing fact. However, some countries are better at fighting it than others.  In Israel, for example, over 500 attacks are thwarted per year.

In the UK, the intelligence services claim to stop at least one major terrorist attack per month.  These countries have real threats, as do the US, African countries, countries of majoritarian Christian, Muslim or other religious orientation.

As Kenyans, we face our own particularly dangerous predicament. Intelligence reports estimate we have at least 10,000 Islamist fighters within our borders.

They have the support and backing of states. They have plenty of cash, weapons, and a religiously fervent ideological motivation to massacre as many people as possible. Let’s not forget that this organisation basically controlled Mogadishu and large chunks of the Somalia countryside.

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The group, linked to al Qaeda, seek to put fear in our lives. They want to break our hope, our positivity, our commitment to freedoms and equality.  They see the progress Kenya has made and it irks them because it puts to shame their retrogressive medieval ideology. 

They want to take the region backwards; they are keen on blackmailing us off the rails of our forward march. Our steady progress therefore adds further fuel to their hatred.

They receive training and financing from rogue regimes across Africa and the Middle East. They also propagate illicit trade in charcoal, sugar, guns and ammunition, garments, leather and ivory among other items.

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Remember the same channels also conduct drugs and human trafficking that is rumoured to have brought the organisation tens of millions of dollars.

So, when analysing the ongoing battle against this entity, it is crucial to look at the bigger picture. These aren’t petty criminals. They are a fully-funded, well-organised, a state within a state.

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Armed forces

They plan attacks daily, driven by hate. They kill because a nation founded on the firm principle of rule of law does not advance their dark cause.

While our intelligence forces maintain sealed lips regarding how many attacks get stopped, anyone who has a rudimentary understanding of the region knows that the threat is high. Kenya’s commitment to AMISOM, combined with a wholesale upgrade of our armed forces has shown positive results.

The political levels have not received the credit they deserve for the revolution in the preparedness of the KDF.   Uhuru’s position to keep Sheikh Ahmed Madobe as President of the Jubaland State of Somalia has also been important.

It provides important cover for our troops to function in these dangerous lands with maximum freedom and support. No troops are ever one hundred percent safe. We witnessed yet more American troops killed by ISIS this week; it’s a dangerous game and it only takes one to get through.

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And this is exactly what happened in our capital. After years of thwarting attacks, superior intelligence, and operations to keep Kenyans safe; one attack got through.

And it only takes one. In counter-terrorism, there is no such thing as a hermetically sealed system. There is no water-tight wall or barrier to protect innocent civilians from the evils of terror. 

So when one gets through, it affects the entire system. It appears as if the whole system has been defeated.

But this is the wrong attitude to take. Indeed, this attitude is precisely what the terrorists want. They want to weaken the system.

They want to undermine the confidence of our democratic ideals and our way of life. They want the Kenyan people to lose faith in their leaders and institutions, including the KDF. We must emphatically say no.

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We must respond with resilience and valour. We must show the terrorists and the world that we are a people made of courage and mettle. Our beloved country will remain open for business. Our tourist sites will not close, not even for one day.

Stand tall

We will show the world that we have faith in our security forces who have kept us safe from this evil on a daily basis. We must back our government and our President who are preaching the message of unity during these troubling times. 

Because while terrorism ‘only takes one’, the response to terrorism ‘demands the many’. It demands we unite as one strong nation in the face of this threat. It demands that we stand tall together and shout loudly that we shall not surrender.

We will continue to progress as a proud Kenya.  And the positive forces of light will continue to defeat the forces of darkness. Terrorism cannot be allowed to win.

Mr Mamboleo is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and International Law Expert. [email protected]

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