Kenyan security agencies arrested two terror suspects in Likoni, Mombasa on August 23. Two days later, their Ugandan counterparts arrested suspected terrorists at the burial of Major General Paul Lokech who served as a commander of Amisom troops in Somalia.
A day after the Uganda arrest, Tanzania security agencies killed a Somali national in a shootout outside the French embassy. These events suggest there could have been a plot to launch simultaneous attacks in East Africa, similar to those that took place on August 7, 1998 at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. In Nairobi, 213 people lost their lives while in Tanzania, 11 died.
But this time, timely action by alert security agencies in the three countries forestalled the worst. That, no doubt, is commendable.
These successful operations can be attributed to smart policing, intelligence gathering and sharing of vital information among the East African states. In addition, our security officers are now better trained and armed.
Despite Al Shabaab losing ground in Somalia due to the relentless efforts of Amisom forces, the threat of terrorism still hangs over East Africa.
Realistically, there is a limit to what security agencies can achieve in eliminating the ever-present threat of terrorism on their own. Their efforts should be supplemented by input from citizens. That way, a lot can be achieved towards making the region safe. Terrorists and their sympathisers live among us. This realisation calls for a shift in how the Police Service and citizens relate. There’s need for free flow of information between them.
We must all play our parts to make Kenya and East Africa safe. Our collective efforts will make terrorism a thing of the past.