Multi-agency approach is best bet in war on terror

Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia.

Kenya Defence Forces soldiers under Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) patrol Kismayo town on November 22, 2015. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya received international accolades for the successful “Operation Linda Nchi’’, military intervention in Somalia to fight the Al-Shabaab threat in the East African region. Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is a strong pillar of the African Union peacekeeping force Atmis, Amisom’s successor. 

Being a complex transnational crime, terrorism requires joint actions from the state, non-state actors, citizens and other stakeholders to effectively fight it. It is for this reason that Kenyan security agencies embraced a multi-agency approach to fighting terrorism in order to synergise counter-terrorism efforts and counter-terrorism operations for better results. 

The strategy provided the much-needed paradigm shift from ‘need to know’ to ‘need to share’, to facilitate the free flow of actionable information and intelligence among security agencies and other organisations to mount sound and timely responses.

Principally, agencies involved in counter-terrorism, such as the National Police Service, National Counter Terrorism Centre, KDF, National Intelligence Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Kenya Prisons Service, Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Financial Reporting Centre, Judiciary, Asset Recovery Agency and Department of Immigration Services fully cooperate and collaborate to coherently slay the terror dragon. 

The seamless inter-agency coordination and collaboration involve components such as joint training of security personnel, sharing intelligence and embracing a citizen-centred security approach which enables Kenyans to share information on terrorism through grassroots structures like Nyumba Kumi and community policing to neutralise the threat.

The fruits of these measures are seen in a significant reduction in terrorist attacks, especially by the Al-Shabaab, more arrests of terrorists and thwarting of raids. For instance, in 2021, a Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (Chrips) study showed terror attacks in the country reduced by 74 per cent and are projected to reduce further.

Multi-agency frameworks

Among the multi-agency frameworks that deal with terrorism and other serious crimes are the Border Control and Operations Coordination Committee (BCOCC) and National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

The latest product of this approach is the “Inter-Agency Guidelines on Cooperation and Collaboration in the Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorism and Terrorism Financing”, under the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The guidelines had input from civil society.

Countries like Pakistan and the Philippines use a development-based approach as a weapon to fight violent extremism and terrorism. Security agencies also need to acquire modern security equipment like metal detector coils, infrared cameras and ground-penetrating radars to counter IED attacks.

There is a need to build on the successes of the multi-agency approach in fighting terrorism and other serious crimes and extend the concept to other fields to improve efficiency in service delivery.

Mr Mugwang’a, a communications consultant, is a member of the Crime Journalists Association of Kenya (CJAK). [email protected].