When children are radicalised: A mother's fear

Children are a blessing. But when they cause you sleepless nights and constant worry, perhaps even a watchful eye from the police, then they are anything but that.

Modern day parenting has had its challenges, but radicalisation by far takes the top slot.

For 80-year-old Kiptenai Kosgei, Shadrack Kipkoech used to be his little boy.

He’s far from that now. They say he is radicalised. What’s more, he now supports Al-Shabaab.

Kipkoech, now 34 years old, left home eight years ago, only to resurface on Facebook, declaring his support for terrorists who took DusitD2 under siege, killing 21 people during the January 15 raid in Nairobi’s Riverside area.

In an article published by the Star, his mother Flora Kosgei is lost for words. What she has left of her fourth son is but a memory of days long gone. The only reminder left of Kipkoech in their Kapsoo home in Kaptumo is the attention they receive from the authorities and neighbours alike, albeit unwanted.

Shadrack Kipkoech's mother Flora Kosgei. [Photo, Courtesy]

After the terrorists raided DusitD2 complex, Kipkoech took to social media, cheering the terrorists.

The posts have since been pulled down.

Kipkoech, who now goes by the name Ismael, took issue with the authorities for killing Somalis and warned of more attacks.

The family is now under the radar of the police, Anti-Terror Police Unit, DCI and the local provincial administration.

Flora says she has left Kipkoeach to God.

“We are Christians of Jehovah Witness by denomination. I took him all through the lessons to understand properly the doctrine of our faith, but he has decided to support terrorists. I feel so sad,” Florah said in the report by the Star.

Before the Facebook post, his family believed he was dead.

When they last spoke to him he said he was in Sudan working for the army.

Radicalisation

The Counter-Extremism Project states that Kenya is a prime location for al-Shabaab radicalisation and recruitment amid the terror group’s rise in Somalia.

"As early as 2012, reports indicated that al-Shabaab was attracting a large number of Kenyan converts to Islam. By December 2014, it was estimated that Kenyans comprised around 25 per cent of the terror group’s ranks," it says.

Al Shabaab has primarily recruited within Muslim communities along the Kenyan coast, but recently, it spread its tentacles in other parts, sometimes as far as Western Kenya.

School heads in the targeted communities say al-Shabaab militants have infiltrated their institutions, influencing students and recruiting youth to their cause.

In December 2017, police officers raided an Islamic school in Likoni, Mombasa, arresting teachers and taking 100 students into protective custody. The children were being indoctrinated to an extremist Islamist ideology, according to authorities.

On January 23, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a nationwide operation to crack down on radicalised youth, their mentors and financiers.

The President, while addressing senior administration and police officers at State House, Mombasa, said his administration would not leave anything to chance in the war on terror.

The President directed regional coordinators and county commissioners to implement action plans to prevent and counter violent extremists in their jurisdictions.

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