KWALE: Former Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi has said he is not behind the push for the establishment of the proposed Ministry of Homeland Security to co-ordinate the war on terror and combat other crimes.
There have been speculation that Karangi, who retired from the military early this year, could be appointed to the ministry, which will replace the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination.
“I have heard that I am behind the establishment of the Homeland Security force. Let me say that I have nothing to do with it,” said General Karangi last week on Friday, during the opening of the Law Society of Kenya’s (LSK) annual conference at Leisure Lodge, Kwale.
Karangi also defended Kenya Defence Forces’ (KDF) continued stay in Somalia but called on the Government to remove the ‘firewall in intelligence sharing’ among security forces to enable internal security agencies to deter attacks.
This is the first time Karangi has given a detailed account of his tenure at the helm of KDF and the war on terror and piracy.
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He said thriving corruption in the judicial system means that the only way to deal with terrorists is to finish them.
“I personally know of three cases where suspected terrorists have been arrested, arraigned in court and released, only to attack again. With a justice system that does not operate at optimal levels, it is difficult to deal with terrorism,” said Karangi.
He disabused delegates of the notion that the Government was constructing a wall between Kenya and Somali, saying the plan is to construct barriers at some points at the border and create clear crossing points.
On increased terror attacks in the country compared to other countries whose forces are part of Amisom in Somalia, Karangi said: “Kenya cannot do what Ethiopia does because of the expanded rights and liberties in the Constitution.”
“It is a fact the country should find a balance between the expanded rights and liberties and the war on terror. It is very difficult for terrorists to attack countries with authoritarian regimes compared to democracies like Kenya for reasons best known,” he said.
Comparatively, Karangi said in Kenya, the maximum sentence for a terrorist is 14 years while in the United Kingdom and United States, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
“In Pakistan, which is a Muslim country, the law is clear that the punishment for any act of terror that results in death is death. Comparing this with Kenya, then one can understand why there is need to review some of the laws,” he added.
He gave details of the botched 2011 plans by Al Shabaab to bomb Parliament Buildings, saying what saved the situation was that the House was adjourned due to lack of quorum.
Karangi said that in 2010, a group of pirates attacked a Kenya Navy warship but the military was able to kill all of them and brought their bodies to Mombasa. “These are some of the details that have not been shared with the public,” he said.
“Our first target when we launched Operation Linda Nchi was to deal with piracy because we knew that it was the main source of money for the terror group.
But it is also good to remember that countries like the United Kingdom refused to detain pirates and our involvement in their prosecution made us more vulnerable to terror attacks from Somalia,” said Karangi.
He added that KDF should remain in Somalia until the five pillars to restore its security are realised.
“What people are forgetting is that we moved into Somalia not only because of terrorism but also piracy, which had strangled trade and our economy.
If we pull out, the question is, to whom we will hand the areas that we have liberated from Al Shabaab through our blood,” said Karangi.
He also defended a decision to deploy soldiers as a last resort to combat internal insecurity challenges. The LSK conference is discussing Security and the Rule of Law.