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Kenya averted major terror plots, US report says

By - MOSES MICHIRA | June 1st 2013


Kenyan authorities averted several large-scale terrorist plots last year when Kenya’s military operation in Somalia to crush Al Shabaab militant group exposed the country to attacks, a US report has revealed. 

A report by the US’ Bureau of Counter-terrorism has detailed that Kenyan security forces averted several major terrorist plots although there were other “small-scale” attacks like grenade attacks. 

Details of the ‘major terrorist plots’ were however not revealed in the report that highlights the emerging security threats and operations of terrorist organisations throughout the world.

“At home, Kenyan authorities successfully disrupted several large-scale terrorist plots,” read part of the ‘Country Reports on Terrorism 2012’ which also highlighted the country’s difficulty in combating small-scale terrorist activity like grenade attacks.

Arrests and convictions

The report acknowledges the arrests and conviction of two Iranians sentenced to life last month for plotting terror attacks on Kenyan soil. Kenya has earned international recognition on efforts to combat terrorist activities through legislation and intelligence, which has raised the country’s profile in the fight against organised crime.

The US has, however, raised its reservations with Kenya’s ability and capacity to counter the financing of terrorist activity, a concern that led to its inclusion on an international watch-list of countries whose financial systems are vulnerable to money laundering.

Kenya was, however, spared the sanctions that are slapped on countries on the international watch-list after enacting several pieces of legislation that established the Financial Reporting Centre which monitors any cash transfers exceeding Sh850, 000 million ($10,000)

 It was feared that the Kenyan economy was a conduit for criminals who were either beneficiaries of proceeds from piracy or was being exploited as a channel to finance activities of the Al-Shabaab operating in Somalia.

 While the activities of the Al-Shabaab have been dealt a major blow and a caretaker government taken over in the country, small-scale attacks linked to the militant organisation have been reported in both Kenya and Somalia.

Terror incidents

Kenyan authorities reported that the more than three- dozen terrorist incidents occurred in 2012, which it fears were propagated by the Al-Shabaab or its sympathisers, mostly using guns and grenade attacks. Grenade attacks were widespread last year, with the most deadly ones being the. July 1, 2012 Church attack that left 17 people dead and the explosion inside a bus in Eastleigh that killed 10 people.

 Official number of casualties that were directly linked to terrorist incidents were 34 while those injured exceeded 145 people, but the police may not have established a relationship with terror in many other incidents that remain unattributed. The ‘Linda Nchi’ operation that was led by Kenya Defence Forces resulting in the recapture of Somalia port city of Kismayo from the Al-Shabaab is noted among the country’s biggest achievements in combating terrorism.

Somali refugees that have been accommodated within Dadaab, the world’s largest rescue camp in Kenya, posed one of the biggest security threats to the country last year according to the US.

But it is the arrest and prosecution of two Iranians found in possession of powerful explosives last year and the subsequent sentencing to life, that the US regards as the biggest counterterrorism effort.

Ahmed Mohammed and Sayed Mansour, who were feared to belong to international gang of dangerous terrorists were caught with 15 kilos of explosives suspected to be used to blow up interest of the West in Kenya. Prosecutors in the case said the explosive material known as RDX nabbed was only part of the 100-kilo consignment, which the two had earlier imported, which could be used to make more than 30 bombs.

On legislation, the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which spells tough punishment for offenders and the subsequent enactment into law is expected to significantly deter any possible attacks in future. The US also praises the Kenyan government for demonstrating ‘persistent political will’ to secure its borders and cooperate in regional and international counterterrorism efforts.

“Kenya continued its partnership with the United States on expanding Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, PISCES, border controls to additional ports of entry,” the report concludes.

The August 7, 1998 US embassy bombing left hundreds of people dead and scores maimed for life in Nairobi.[PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]


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