The symbolic violence masterminded and orchestrated by terror group Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement, al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia is objective. Traditionally, terrorism borrows from radical interpretations of Islamic teachings as a motivation and the ideological backbone of social-religious support.
Over the years, the terror group leadership has modified violence to accommodate new versions of the symbolic violence to showcase and justify religiously their intents. The Shebaab has modified and perfected terrorism to make both victims, aggressors, and most importantly, the Muslim community living among the victims of terrorism (non-believers) contented with acts of terrorism.
This is a critical aspect of the terrorism ideology and strategy. Though borrowed from successes of Islamists, the strategy focuses on the psychology of humans. The terrorists focus shifts from the aggressors resources and human capital to recipients of his/her leadership. To win the hearts and minds Al-Shabaab violently attacks and kills innocent children, women, and defenseless men.
The aim of such violence is decapitating the victims/civilians trust in the government. The terrorists further make statements that seek to justify their symbolic violence. Victims view these justifications as reasons why the terror group is attacking them. The core objective is to use the civilian victims as proxies to fight the government.
This is the art of psychological warfare (PsyOps). PsyOps are cheap to conduct. They are also highly effective and affordable force multipliers. It is also very easy to amplify the psychological effect through media, social-media based trusted messengers, and third parties such as anti-government bloggers and activists.
In Kenya Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement strikes out against targets that resonate with their ideology and objective. The target must be grossly influenced by the strike to an extent socio-political undertones will largely shift the country’s view of the terrorists besides the government capability to preempt or reliably counter violent extremism.
Throughout the year 2015, Kenya’s Security Intelligence services, The National Intelligence Service (NIS), has robustly and proactively attended to the rising threat of Islamic extremism. Contrary to security bloggers and Western analysts assertion that Kenya doesn’t have a clear counter-terrorism strategy besides lack of experts in analysis of terrorism, Kenya’s National Intelligence Service capability in detecting and disrupting terrorism is at an all time good stead.
Countering violent extremism is a global challenge today, and NIS success is inspiring. Kenya is leading the war against terror group Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement violent psychological operations on all fronts. Public awareness and demystifying the objectives terrorism is making headway in weakening terrorism goals.