Kenya is facing the most significant threat from terrorists in its history. Intelligence shows since 2013, Kenya’s National Terrorism Public Alert level has remained high.
Law enforcement, the Intelligence Service, and other security agencies in government continue to respond robustly to the threat posed by terrorists besides terror attacks.
Today, Nairobi’s greatest challenge is to stymie an attack on the resilience and cohesion of the Kenyan community by the Somali Islamist group Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen movement through their Istishhadyin unit (suicide brigade) strategy.
According to Intelligence analysts in Kenya, there is a plot by Istishhadyin unit to isolate the minority Muslim community from the rest of the Kenyan community through events that involve suicide missions by members of the terror group of Kenya descent and blaming the deaths on the government; a charge Al-Shabaab commanders recently arrested in the frontier area of Garissa admitted to.
According to Kenya’s intelligence top brass, “The North Eastern Province of Kenya (NEP) is an area where every day Somali clans that subscribe to Islam kill each other every day, yet somehow, someone wants the country to blame the Government of the Republic of Kenya. There can be no other reason to such vulgarity despite GOK stoicism over the allegations.”
The Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen terror movement, a rag-tag militia, has the intent and capability to mount a major terror attack in Kenya. However, the Kenya Intelligence Agency has robustly stopped the planning of attacks thus weakening the terrorist’s capability to conduct attacks. As such the major threat is terrorist’s elliptical intent to mount the attack.
“Clan politics, longstanding disputes, pro-terror NGO’s seeking donor support and the skillful moves of the terrorists are of course a significant challenge and we are robustly addressing this.”
The (HSM) Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen is attempting isolation of Muslims as a strategy. In this strategy, HSM has adopted the aggressive promotion of violent extremism as a respite to alleged marginalization, arrests of suspects, and deaths of terrorist operatives in Somalia and Kenya.
Al-Shabaab is directly responsible for online promotion of violent Islamic extremism and persuasive propaganda that’s used to conscript Muslim youths. Intelligence reports highlight presence of slightly over 700 Kenyan youths in Al-Shabaab ranks in Somalia.
According to the National Intelligence Service of Kenya (NIS) “The other side of the problem including the ‘forced disappearance narrative’ is the large number of young men and women joining the Al-Shabaab and the ISIL in Middle East almost every day, others stopped from going. Do we blame the Government of Kenya (GOK) for parent’s inability to account for their children whereabouts?”
About 40% of them were recruited online. The Shebaab operatives use high dimension communication networks such as social media and encrypted messaging to radicalize Kenyan youths to violent extremism. They provide facilitation and use proxies to arrange transportation to Somalia. Others then go to Yemen where these young men cross over to the Levant.
Forced Disappearance Narrative
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen’s Istishhadyin unit (Suicide brigade) is run by the Intelligence wing of the terror group. This unit has recruited young men in Kenya who they brainwash and use to further the Muslim-Isolation strategy. These boys agree to die and be declared martyrs.
According to a captured commander of the stishhadyin unit (Suicide brigade) in NEP, “We identify the best and use them to achieve the goal, particularly the well educated males without family responsibilities”
The terror group uses their local operatives using previous GOK security officer’s strategy of picking suspects from their homes. This way, they create the impression that its GOK officers targeting Somali Muslim youths.
“The public is buying the narrative that the Kenya Government is responsible for the forced disappearances. Unfortunately, this is not the true picture most of these young men are orchestrating events aimed at besmirching the government and make the Muslims and Somali’s feel isolated and targeted. As such they’ll isolate themselves and identify with the Al-Shabaab”
Upon martyrdom, the bodies are dumped in areas where they can be easily identified by villagers or local authorities. Most parents have no idea their children are radicalized and diehards of the terror movement.
The Intelligence Service, the Kenya Army (KDF) and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) are working round the clock to identify and neutralize the operatives of the Al-Shabaab Istishhadyin unit (Suicide brigade) behind the premeditated suicide of Kenyan youths.
“We have seen this happening with ISIS where bodies are mutilated and elements committing suicide on camera and such material being used to online while blaming the death and torture on government agencies and operatives.”
The Government of Kenya first line of defense against violent Islamic extremism is preventing people from becoming terrorists and joining terrorist groups like the HSM.
GOK counter-terrorism strategy is based on partnership between all levels of government, private sector, and most important, the Kenyan society. This strategy not only seeks to stymie radicalization, but entrench cohesion and resilience against violent extremism in entire Kenyan family.
This strategy must work. There have been results. These results were positive and it signals Kenya is on the right direction and making the best strides towards wining the war on terror.