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Cohesive resistance strategy needed to fight terror groups

By Hassan Malik | Dec 12th 2019 | 2 min read

Kenya has remarkably improved its counter-terrorism tactics with regards to asymmetric warfare of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group.

The gains made have significantly reduced the frequency of terror attacks in the country. However, much more still needs to be done to further disable Al Qaida networks.

And besides the hard power strategy, there is a pressing need to seriously pursue the agenda for the intellectual demolition of the ideological infrastructure of Al Shabaab.

It is a fact that no one is born a terrorist and neither does a person become one overnight. Terrorists are a product of radicalisation through either a self-driven process or political socialisation with a radicalised person(s).

This accentuates Prof Peter Nuemann's description of radicalisation as "everything that happens before the bomb goes off." Nipping terror groups in the bud would thus require a thorough intellectual dismantling of their warped and utopian ideology and politics that brainwash young and unsuspecting preys.

It is, however, becoming clearer that Islam is just used as a convenient "motif" rather than "motive" behind the so-called Islamist terrorism as has been cautioned by Prof Bill Durudie, a leading counter-terrorism expert.

UN experts recently released a corroborating report revealing a new dimension to Al Shabaab's recruitment strategy, which showed that the group was more interested in criminal skills rather than religious fervor.

Defending Muslims has also never been the business of these terrorist groups as they commonly allege. In some of the Muslim majority countries such as Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, they bomb and shoot innocent Muslims even inside mosques.

In Kenya, Al Shabaab has despoiled North Eastern region, which is largely populated by Kenyan Somali Muslims, sabotaging its development, trade as well as education sector, which is still in a crisis state following several cases of mass exodus of non-local teachers due to fear of attacks.

Unity is a crucial pillar to defeat the evils of radicalisation and terrorism. We cannot afford to allow extremists to define who we are as a society and country.

We cannot crush them through blame games, mistrusts, unnecessary hatred and suspicion among ourselves.

What we require is a sturdy and cohesive resistance strategy that will efficaciously demolish not only the physical assets of Al Shabaab, but more importantly the ideological bedrocks on which it is perched both locally and in Somalia. 

Hassan Malik, Garissa

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