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Occurences that should foster Kenya’s counter-insurgency efforts

By Adhere Cavince | January 9th 2016

Terrorism is now considered to be the greatest threat to global peace and security. The global menace has had significant financial implications where the efforts by countries to re-stablish after attack have cost a great amount of resources.

The Sydney based Institute for Economics and Peace, in its 2015 Global Terrorism Index estimates that terrorism cost the world $52.9 billion (Sh5.29 trillion) in 2014, the highest since 9/11 attack which was estimated at $51.51 billion in damages. The report further pegs terrorism related deaths in 2014 to 32,700; with 93 countries having suffered attacks, up from 88 the year before.

In 2015, terror outfits continued with their atrocities; making headlines across the globe. In Europe, attention was focussed on France during the January Charlie Hebdo attack and the horrendous Paris shootings in November. 

Africa continued to surge under the iniquities of violent extremist groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabaab. Kenya, in particular, had one of its worst years when 148 lives were lost in the April 2015 bloodletting at Garissa University College. Statistics put the number killed on Kenyan soil due to terrorism since April 2013 at 400. In addition, the 2013 Westgate attack is estimated to have cost Sh10 billion besides indirect costs associated with dipping foreign direct investments and curtailed tourism.

These occurrences demand that countries, Kenya included, continue to heighten the fight against radicalisation and violent extremism within and beyond their borders.

As we begin 2016, a number of events have indeed set the tone and should bolster Kenya’s resolve to push terror gangs, sympathisers and financiers out of its territory.

To start with, the reopening of Westgate Mall in July 2015 and the reopening of Garissa University College in the first week of 2016 are key highlights of the country’s determination. These milestones speak of the resolve by Kenyan people to resiliently dust themselves off and chalk a new path. The comeback is a bold statement of reassuring investors and confirming that Kenya will not be crippled by terrorism.

Second, Kenya has over the years been blamed for lacking sound preparedness when it comes to averting terrorism and home-grown insurgency. The establishment of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a creation of the Security Laws Amendment Act at the fall of 2014 is highly expected to address this challenge.  The agency is mandated to play incremental role in detecting, deterring and disrupting terrorism through coordination of counter terrorism efforts with other government partners and stakeholders. With support of Kenyans, it can only get better in 2016 as NCTC gets its footing and act together.

Third, the story of Kenyan Muslims, mostly women, who stood up for and shielded their Christian compatriots during the December bus attack outside north-eastern town of El Wak showed the indomitable power of the citizenry in defeating terrorism. This unprecedented act of heroism confirms the ancient wisdom that no amount of evil can defeat the resolve of a united people. If a handful patriots could humiliate a bloodthirsty gang in the dead of the night and save lives, how much can the 45 million Kenyans, acting in unison against terror, achieve?   

Lastly, Kenya’s legal ecosystem that now makes it possible to legally isolate terror elements amongst us if not to be ignored. This was exemplified by the recent nine-year incarceration of Jermaine John Grant, a bomb expert who between 2008 and 2015 kept local and international authorities on their toes, trying to prevent him from orchestrating terror. This development sends the message that only those culpable for terrorist atrocities shall be held accountable.

While the tone for recovery is already set, willingness by authorities to work with local communities to create understanding, share information and take joint actions and responsibilities will be required in defeating insurgency.

The Writer is graduate student of International Studies at the Institute of Diplomacy & International Studies, University of Nairobi. Email: [email protected]

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