What you need to know:
- A new study indicates that clandestine radicalisation has been going on in non-traditional regions around the country.
- The study shows new terror cells may have sprung up in parts of the Rift Valley as well as central and western Kenya over the past decade.
Recent events in the region point to the need to intensify the war on terror. From the twin suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, to the recent escape of terror convicts from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Kenya, all indications are that the region should brace itself to deal with a resurgent Al-Shabaab and other terror groups.
And now, a new study indicates that clandestine radicalisation has been going on in non-traditional regions around the country. The study by Reinvent shows new terror cells may have sprung up in parts of the Rift Valley as well as central and western Kenya over the past decade.
More worrying is that purveyors of terror have changed tack to beat the country’s surveillance systems. In places such as Nakuru, the report says, residents have been unable to pick out violent extremism from rising crime or politically instigated violence. That makes it hard for security agencies to adduce evidence of terror activities in court, which means those radicalising the youth may never be brought to book.
In Marsabit, the Da’wah group is reported to have expanded its influence to schools, mosques and madrassa, as well as through publication of jihadist pamphlets. That these groups have maintained largely undetected communication links to Al-Shabaab in Somalia further highlights the sophisticated nature of the new brand of terrorism.
The authorities ought to co-opt communities into the war on terror since security agencies cannot be everywhere. This has worked well in some areas with propagators of extremist views reportedly evicted from key centres such the country’s main mosque, Masjid Jamia. There is also a need to extend surveillance beyond the areas neighbouring war-torn Somalia and traditional recruitment cells, such as part of Coast.
More fundamentally, the government must back the war on terror with adequate personnel, equipment and other resources. And given that the militants are now targeting inmates, schoolchildren, refugees and other vulnerable groups, there is a need to not only monitor these institutions but also infuse counter-terror messages into the non-traditional recruitment grounds, including the school curriculum.