Covid-19 and terrorism are threats to our national security

What you need to know:

  • The pandemic has not reduced the government’s efforts to ensure the territorial integrity is safeguarded.

 Although the coronavirus pandemic has reorganised the order of our national priorities, the threat posed by terrorism has remained near the top of our agenda.

Those seeking to do us harm do not sleep. They are on the constant lookout for opportunities to attack when they determine us to be at our weakest. The pandemic has helped unite Kenyans as terror groups seek to undermine this unity by sowing fear and hatred.

The government has consistently expressed concern over the growing threat. While addressing the United Nations General Assembly, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on the international community to support member states in the fight against terror. The need for this support, despite the global focus on the Covid-19 pandemic, is more evident today than ever before.

 The pandemic has had economic impact on the society. Covid-19 has provided opportunities for terror groups to recruit helpless young Kenyans.  

 These carry out the missions of terror organisations, often out of desperation and against their better judgement, expecting much needed financial assistance in return. With neighbouring Somalia already facing a precarious economic situation before the outbreak of Covid-19, the fallout from the pandemic is bound to significantly assist organisations like Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab in terms of recruitment.

Despite time being focused on winning our war against Covid-19, the government has not overlooked the threat that terrorism can pose. President Uhuru Kenyatta has issued stern warning to terrorist groups. The pandemic has not reduced the government’s efforts to ensure the territorial integrity is safeguarded.

 Coronavirus and terrorism have a lot more in common. Both are international problems that require international cooperation to overcome. Terrorists do not stop at national boundaries. They see our common way of life as a threat to their ideologies. As we have seen, coronavirus similarly does not differentiate between holders of different passports.

Our leadership has emphasised international responses to these issues. As we have seen over the past few months, international collaboration has been an instrumental part of the government’s battle against Covid-19. On the terrorism front, international partners such as Uganda and Ethiopia have helped mitigate national security threats. President Kenyatta once said that no single country can combat terrorism alone.

 Coronavirus and terror are also similar in the way in which they provide opportunities for extremists to play on people’s worries and underscore uncertainty. In the case of coronavirus, this can clearly be seen through cynical actors who have amplified fake news reports for political gains. To protect our nation from such fake reports, the government has ensured that those spreading fake news are arrested and prosecuted. 

 The government has worked hard to make sure that dealing with one threat does not come at the expense of our ability to efficiently deal with the other. Our national security apparatus has continued to keep us safe throughout this challenging time.

Extremists will undoubtedly adapt to this new reality and continue to find creative ways to challenge us. At times like these, our nation must remain united and show extremists that our commitment to defending our way of life heavily outweighs their commitment to working to undermine it.

Mr Leo is a public policy analyst. [email protected]