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Al-Shabaab have asked for war, give it to them Mr President

By MUTAHI KAGWE | December 7th 2014

The past two weeks have not been easy for Kenya. We learned that we were housing the largest cybercrime ring in Africa, are home to cults that facilitate the killing of innocent children, and most alarming, that we risk our lives when we venture into the Somalia-bordering corner of North Eastern Kenya in search of employment.

For me, it has been a particularly sad period. As a Kenyan, I have been deeply pained by the images of our brethren slaughtered and paraded by Al-Shabaab, and as a leader, gravely disappointed by our security forces’ inability to seal the lapses that have enabled the massacring of innocent Kenyans. The paradise that is Kenya is under threat and the bliss in which the world’s best animals, tourists, businesses and people co-exist fearlessly, a fading reality that will only improve with immediate brutal and sustained response on the part of the Kenyan Government. Al-Shabaab has declared war on us and we in turn must fight.  With might.

When Kenya joined the Africa Mission in Somalia (Amisom) forces in the effort to stabilise and improve the overall conditions in Somalia, it was because we care deeply about the welfare of our Somali neighbours under fundamentalist Muslims, and wished to see the country restore the stability, prosperity and peace it once enjoyed before its civil strife.

Kenya’s interventions were consistent with the support we have always offered this constituency through other activities such as refugee support and capacity building within government. We did not intervene as a singular country, or as a party with any vested religious, political or economic agenda; but rather as a good neighbour supportive of Somalia’s rebuilding. Given this, the recent events are most unfortunate.

Earlier this week, I urged that we conduct a thorough audit of our security organs with a view of flushing out sympathisers and those that have been infiltrated. It is clear from the repeated ease of the terrorist attacks that there are glaring gaps between our intelligence and action and that beyond the leadership changes that the President has implemented, we need to delve deeper into this mayhem.

This should be done by examining all the issues, from the root causes to the influencers, to the complex web of solutions. This is the time for solidarity. It is the time to stand by President Kenyatta, avoid cheap political exploits and support the government in what he has described as “a war that we must win.”

The latest attacks have raised the stakes. We recognise that Islam is a peace-loving faith that not only many Kenyans subscribe to, but also one that we as a nation protect. But we must face the reality of the threat against us. The Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen, “the Mujahideen Youth Movement,” are terrorists set on exploiting our challenges – economic, political and security – to advance their goals.

They will not stop until they realise their ill objectives, including creating a war between Kenya’s Muslims and Christians, and making Kenya an ungovernable nation. To get there, they will kill, create maximum carnage and convert as many of our despondent and disenfranchised youth; the constituency they are wrapping their tentacles around. But this is not just about Kenya.

The deteriorating situation in the North Eastern region threatens the international community and its security interests as well. Left unabated, this terrorism threatens not only the international businesses that have invested capital in Kenya, but their staff as well. All of us are united in our vulnerability against the Al-Shabaab and must consequently become honest and very ruthless stakeholders in our fight against them. As we mourn our fallen brothers, I pray that their blood is not shed in vain.

Our forefathers gave their lives so that Kenyans can live in peace and harmony. They did this so gallantly when they fought to end colonial oppression. Today, we demand that the blood recently shed by the terrorists should mark a turning point in the fight against the Al-Shabaab. Hardworking Kenyans must never again have to die so senselessly. Your Excellency, please lead Kenyans in avenging their deaths. Al Shabaab has asked for war, let’s give them.

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