What you need to know:
- “Jihad by family” is becoming an increasingly popular and useful model around the world, and it behoves those whose job it is to protect us to take this into account .
- So when we hear the Anti-Terror Police Unit is going after relatives and family friends of suspects, we should understand the background and motivation.
In the realm of counter-terrorism intelligence, a new term has emerged over the last few years — “Jihad by family”. As a result of pressure security forces are placing on terrorists, many jihadis are increasingly turning to the family unit for recruits.
An American study of 474 foreign fighters from 25 Western countries found one-third “have a familial connection to jihad, whether through relatives currently fighting in Syria or Iraq, marriage or some other link to jihadis from prior conflicts or attacks. A German internal intelligence service report shows 69 out of 378 German foreign fighters travelled with family members, which is a little over 18 per cent.
Moreover, many of the recent terror attacks that have taken place around the world have been perpetrated by multiple members of the same family.
Another study, at Pennsylvania State University, examined the interactions of 120 supposed “lone wolf” terrorists from all ideological and faith backgrounds, and found that, even though they launched their attacks alone, in a large majority of the cases, others were aware of the individual’s commitment to a specific extremist ideology. In an astonishing 64 per cent of cases, family and friends were aware of the individual’s intent to engage in a terrorism-related activity because the offender verbally told them.
With this understanding and evidence, it makes unfortunate and unnecessary sense with any counter-terrorism exercise to begin with the families of the perpetrators.
According to a study by Mohammed M. Hafez in a study for the Combating of Terrorism Center at West Point in the US published in 2016: “Tight-knit kinship and friendship ties offer opportunities for radical socialisation that simultaneously satisfy psychological needs such as avoidance of cognitive dissonance, the need for maintaining meaningful relationships, and validation from valued peers.“
Meaning, that as more familiar terrorist strategies are being surveilled and even dismantled, the family unit or close relatives and acquaintances are replacing some of the old models of terrorist cells that would undertake attacks.
“Jihad by family” is becoming an increasingly popular and useful model around the world, and it behoves those whose job it is to protect us to take this into account while devising its counter-terrorism strategy.
So when we hear the Anti-Terror Police Unit is going after relatives and family friends of suspects who have either been killed or charged in the Dusit terror attack, we should understand the background and motivation.
For any investigation, one must start with the most obvious ties and work his or her way outwards.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised a ruthless and “relentless” pursuit of every person involved in the funding, planning and execution of the heinous attack, so no stone can be left unturned.
Of course, like all suspects in any case, our legal system demands the person of interest is considered innocent until proven guilty and afforded all necessary legal protection in accordance with the law.
However, not to quiz and investigate the relatives of the attackers would be a dereliction of duty and President Kenyatta has promised a ruthless and relentless pursuit.
We fully understand all those who have issues with such an approach and it must be done correctly. Nevertheless, it must be done.
People talk about human rights and they should be and are enshrined in our constitution and legal system, but we should always keep in mind that the greatest human right is the right to live in safety and security.
It is our human right to keep our children safe, and it is our government’s obligation to ensure that no more blood is shed. These are not just rights; they are the principles of governance in any country.
So while some will sit on the sidelines and equivocate about some of the tactics used by the Anti-Terror Police Unit, I will support them in their thankless task.
I will thank our President that he cares enough to make sure that attacks like Dusit are a thing of the past and will take all legal and moral actions to ensure the safety of my country, community, family and myself.
The writer is the Member of Parliament for Igembe North.