Why we must remain vigilant for terror threats

Police officers on patrol in Nairobi's Eastleigh area. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

It is now four years since the terrorist attack at Dusit in Nairobi's Riverside area. Some 22 civilians lost their lives and more than two-dozen individuals maimed.

Many would like to erase the painful memories of wistful terrorist attacks that our motherland has witnessed. Yet, that pain is a perpetual reminder of the reason why we must be more vigilant.

A few weeks ago, three Kenya National Highway Authority (Kenha) staff died in a terror attack at Bura in Garissa County.

We may not be out of the woods yet, but the government is not sitting on its laurels until the nefarious acts of terrorists are surmounted. I commend our men and women in security agencies working every day to deter such attacks.

We must constantly be alive to the existential threats posed by terrorism. Now, more than ever, these threats remain so real.

Viewed from a global perspective, threats from domestic and international terror networks will continue representing a significant challenge to our country.

The government is on high alert and our security apparatus are upping their ante in multiple ways targeting vigilance and surveillance. We do not go for breaks, because criminals and specifically terrorists never go on holiday.

Firefighters battling a blaze following the terror attack at Dusit D2 in Nairobi on January 15, 2019. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard].

The fight against terror is different from fight against illicit brew in the dungeons where they are brewed and consumed. Terrorism is more complicated.

It involves shadowy international actors who recruit, indoctrinate, radicalise, and train Kenyan youth, to launch attacks here and beyond.

Therefore, terrorism being an international phenomenon, the government continues to work with key partners and global allies.

That is the only way we can neutralise threats of these cross-border merchants of terror while ensuring our security agencies work optimally to secure Kenyans and seal our borders.

Policymakers are working hand in hand with our security agencies to institute a range of counterterrorism measures to make it extremely hard and painful to engage in terrorism.

Kenya continues to be a major target for terrorists due to its geo-strategic location and commitment as a frontline state in the fight against terrorism.

I urge the public to continue volunteering any information that can help keep our country safe.

Four years after Dusit, we have revised a couple of stratagems to improve our overall management of security issues.

These measures require constant review. As a matter of practice, we cannot discuss operational issues in depth but following are five broad-brush measures we have undertaken.

First, we enhanced inter-agency coordination to strengthen institutional synergy. This will enhance our security vigilance within our security agencies and around critical installations.

Interior CS Prof Kithure Kindiki. [File, Standard]

Secondly, we have sustained ground, aerial and maritime surveillance as we continue to use other complementary surveillance systems.

Thirdly, the legal framework under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Security Laws has now enabled us to engage a raft of mechanisms for addressing extremism challenges post-Westgate and Dusit.

Fourthly, awareness of the whole chain of planning, financing and execution of terror is now an integral knowledge used to bolster our counterterrorism measures.

This means we no longer go for the executor alone. Instead, we target an entire beadwork of the parties involved and their covert network.

Lastly, our hawk-eyed security agencies have done a tremendous job of screening and profiling suspects and be steps ahead of criminals.

When I signed up for this job, I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park. It has not been. My team and I will do what we must do but we shall achieve way more if we get the unfettered support of the public.

-The writer is Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration

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