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Let’s watch out, prisons could be terror recruitment centres

By Joseph Ndung'u | December 19th 2015

Over the years, Kenya has borne the brunt of terrorism with thousands of innocent lives lost and livelihoods shattered.

The unwavering resolve by Kenyans to amplify Government strategies to defeat and eliminate this threat despite numerous attacks is commendable.

Terrorists and their sympathisers have no place in the community of civilised states. Thus, those arrested and sentenced must not be allowed to have a privilege to pervert others.

Several terror suspects have overtime been arrested and prosecuted.

Every possible measure must therefore be taken to ensure terror fanatics are not serving sentences in correctional facilities with other convicts as this is likely to turn prisons into breeding ground for radical extremism.

Due to vulnerability of those serving sentences, majority of who complete their respective sentences and become resourceful citizens, some may also be predisposed to gradual radicalisation if the environment they are constantly confined to is compromised with such elements.

Prisons are correctional facilities and as such, existing gaps, if any, must be addressed not to convert reformatory centres into potential dens for recruitment.

A fortnight ago, British terror suspect Jermaine Grant (pictured) was sentenced to nine years imprisonment by the High Court. Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, alias Mohamed Seif, was sentenced to life in prison for the October 2011 blasts.

In September 2012, Abdimajid Yasin Mohamed, alias Hussein, was sentenced to 59 years in prison after he was arrested in Eastleigh with a cache of weapons that included six suicide bombs, 12 grenades, four AK 47 rifles and 480 bullets recovered from them as police thwarted a major terror plot in Nairobi.

While the government has acknowledged recruitment of youths in schools into the extremism networks and necessary interventions instituted, we may also be oblivious of the idea if any, to what extent radicalisation could take place in our prisons if terror convicts mingle with other inmates.

Indisputably, if the interaction is not restricted with other inmates, there is every risk of radicalisation. The requisite agencies must therefore wake up to this problem before it is too late.

Prisons could be serving as fertile recruiting grounds for extremism expansion and calls for drastic measures to avert a major crisis. As patriotic citizens, we have a cardinal obligation to ensure safety and security of our country.

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