Let’s keep spirit that defeated attackers

Kenyans beheld a remarkable anti-terrorism operation by multi-agency security forces that reacted to an Al-Shabaab attack on Dusit hotel in Nairobi, Tuesday last week.

Marked by rapidity and dexterity, the response was profoundly effective as it helped to save more than 700 lives and reduced the magnitude of carnage that the armed attackers had planned to cause at the hotel complex.

The fit mode in which the government responded to the Dusit attack was a positive sign that it has in some way learnt from its past mistakes, especially those that arose from not having a companionable coordination among the various security players while responding to domestic terrorism forays by members of the Somalia-based and Al-Qaeda-linked terror group.

Moments that carry sad recollections of poor security coordination in response to terror attacks include the April 2015 Garissa University massacre that claimed 148 lives and the preceding attack at Westgate shopping mall in 2013 where 67 people were killed by Al-Shabaab gunmen while scores of others got injured.

In the latter attack, we even heard about “friendly fire”, which contained anything but friendly, between our Kenyan security team due to a command tussle that threatened the rescue mission.

Global icon

The explanation that Al-Shabaab reportedly gave to the media as justification for the indefensible attack on Dusit hotel is preposterous. When did this terror organization become a promoter of Middle East affairs when it has troubled and slaughtered Muslims in Somalia and Kenya; turning some of their areas into another Gaza? Is charity not supposed to begin at home?

Amazingly, when Palestinians pray for peace and protection of their Muslim brothers around the world, Somalia is one of the countries they reference for God’s intervention and whose biggest adversary is irrefutably Al Shabaab. So, Al-Shabaab and its mouthpieces should tell us; in its un-Islamic cruelty and wanton destruction, who stands to benefit?

It should be noted that the Palestinian cause, which Al Shabaab is trying to frivolously hijack with its recent attack in Nairobi, is a pure and legitimate cause with no vision or mission of terrorism.

It also enjoys the support of not only billions of Muslims around the globe, but also many fair-minded people internationally, including intellectuals, authors and celebrities. The late South African global icon Nelson Mandela for example, remarked that “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians”.

Renowned Palestinian intellectual Edward W. Said also said that “We cannot fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness “. It is the foregoing constructive weapons, not the destructive ones employed by Al-Shabaab that will meaningfully liberate Palestinians from the Israeli occupation.

Inconsiderate decision

America’s decision to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was no doubt controversial. Palestinians, Muslims globally and other independent-minded citizens around the world were annoyed with Trump’s inconsiderate decision, which made the US to appear like an Israeli workhorse with no time for sympathy or empathy for the people of Palestine.

Furthermore, the US was slammed in many quarters, including by the United Nations and some of its traditional allies in the West for the Jerusalem decision.

But what gives hope is the fact that surrendering is not an option for Palestinians; it doesn’t matter how long they’ll struggle for what they deserve.

Al-Shabaab should thus not overreach itself by trying to be the proverbial fools who rush in where angels fear to tread unless- and I surmise so- it is a tool being used by some powerful Islamophobes to tarnish the image of Islam; with some misguided Muslims being used as a front.

As Ibnul Qayim Al Jawziya, one of the foremost and influential scholars of Islam in the past clearly pointed out, “Islam is a mercy. If you see its opposite, cruelty, then know that that is not Islam.”

Soft power

I urge the government and its security organs to keep up the spirit of excellence that they showcased during the Dusit terror attack where terrorists were neutralized in a timely manner and many lives rescued, contrary to the hell-bent agenda of the assailants.

Going forward, the fight should also be deeply balanced between the hard power tools like military solutions and the soft power initiatives such as working with religious scholars to craft anti-radicalization messages which would be passed in both online and offline social platforms, together with developing communities and areas vulnerable to violent extremism.

We, the Kenyan people, should always remain as one indivisible society and battle terrorism while embracing the following words of wisdom by author Thomas Carlyle: “Men’s hearts ought not be set against one another, but set with one another and all against evil only”.

Mr Mohamed comments on sociopolitical issues

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