State now banks on revised strategy to counter terrorism


Dr Erin Saltman, Global Internet for counter-terrorism, Dr Rosalind Nyawera, Director National counter-terrorism Centre, National Security Advisor Amb Monica Juma and Field Cordinator United Nations Office Counterterrorism Chris Donnell during the launch of Nairobi Caucus on preventing exploitation of technology and communication for terrorist use on  August 3, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The government is banking on a revised national strategy to counter violent extremism across the country.

The revised version of the 2016 strategy seeks to address critical issues like duplication of activities and resources by clearly outlining who is where and doing what amid efforts to ease collaboration.

The National Counter Terrorism Centre Head of Partnerships Fred Ndegwa said the 2016 strategy focused on three main areas which included detecting, deterring and disrupting any form of violence that would pause security threats.

Based on its nine pillars including psychosocial, educational, political, legal and policy, the centre would maintain a birds-eye view of the threat, point out and rally relevant sectors to take necessary actions.

The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is a multi-agency instrument primarily of security agencies built to strengthen coordination in counter-terrorism.

The NCTC was established in 2002 by a cabinet decision and mandated to coordinate national counter-terrorism efforts, conduct public awareness on prevention of terrorism and develop strategies to counter radicalization and foster de-radicalization.

The facilitation of capacity building in counter-terrorism and prevention and coordination with other government agencies to provide security certifications for aviation schools were also among NCTC’s core functions.

During a Twitter Space discussion, Mr Ndegwa said the revised strategy has given the centre an additional mandate of bilateral and multilateral partnerships.

“Since 1998 when the country faced an incident of terrorism, all the way to 2002 and even after the adoption of the 2016 strategy, the country has been responding to what it deemed security threats, but along the way, perspectives have evolved provoking the need for us to address the root causes,” said Mr Ndegwa.

His sentiments were echoed by Dr Ngala Chome who said the revised edition is a major turning point for Kenya to involve other players in the fight against violent extremism.

Chome said in a kinetic reaction to the problem, the government has been using violence to respond to the situation which left a lot of gaps while opening up many rat holes.

“The 2016 strategy was about the state responding to the problem, but the revised edition has changed all that and allowed for society approach,” said Chome.

According to him, unclear definitions of what radicalization and violent extremism meant have seen incidences like an unwarranted association of the Muslim community with extremism.

“I understand there is an ongoing debate of whether incidences like banditry, cattle rustling and the likes of Shakahola should be branded as extremism and radicalization but the government should take advantage and come up with a public communication strategy that would help the masses understand the complexity of the issues,” said Chome.

A renowned researcher Dominic Pkalya said the attempts to revise the 2016 strategy were based on the need for public participation.

Pkalya said the revised edition speaks to the current dynamics of radicalization and violent extremism while giving a broader definition and vulnerable areas.

Lucie Waithaka, founder of Sisters without Borders said the revised strategy gives a clear outline of evidence-based solutions to the problem at hand and a clear coordination and cooperation of networks without duplication.