Members of the public have an obligation in security matters. Kenya citizenry need to be vigilant and play a significant role in communicating with relevant security authorities in case they spot on suspicious activities within their neighborhood. The ‘Nyumba Kumi Initiative’ will be helpful in fighting against terrorism which is becoming sophisticated technology wise.
Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) commonly known in layman’s language as a car bomb or truck bomb is an improvised explosive devices used by terrorists groups. The device is attached in a car or any vehicle and then detonated when it nears the terrorist’s target.
Car bombs (VBIED) functions in diverse ways. There are also different ways how they are fixed on the vehicles before taking off to their target. There are less advanced car bombs which are often wired to the vehicle’s ignition system. The recent improvised VBIED are nowadays fixed magnetically at the underside of the vehicle or beneath the passenger or the driver’s seat. The explosive can also be fixed strategically inside mudguard. Detonators of the VBIED can be triggered by either turning on the ignition, opening of the vehicle door, applying pressure on the brakes or accelerating pedals.
VBIED Case Scenarios
- Several cases have been witnessed in Somali whereby the Islamist group, the Al Shabaab have used Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) to blow up hotels and government establishments; for example an attack on Maka al-Mukarama hotel where Somali ambassador to Switzerland, Yusuf Bari Bari and other Diplomats were having a meeting. The militant used a car bomb that left 10 people dead and dozen others seriously injured.
- On 23rd April, in Nairobi’s Pangani, 2 militant detonated a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) on a suicide attack mission.
- On 11 March, in Mombasa, Anti-Terror Police Unit impounds a car containing 6 piped bombs and an attached mobile phone detonator. The improvised VBIED experts said had a magnitude to explode and collapse a multi-storey building.
- VBIED have also been used by terrorist in the United States. At the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and also in Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 at Federal Office building.
Engineering Students with VBIED Expertise
Al Shabaab are frequently employing VBIED to commits their attacks as witnessed in Somali car bomb attacks. This is making the militant outfit to lure Kenyan University students who have the expertise to designing and assembling powerful Improvised Vehicle Borne Explosives that can’t be easily detected at police checkpoint to join the group. Citing the rate of unemployment amongst the youth, the Al Shabaab is taking the advantage by offering some money in exchange of the explosives.
The Government of Kenya is faced with a big challenge of unearthing Al Shabaab dens where it has been able to net tonnes of materials used to make explosives. In Nairobi and Mombasa, Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) has been able to conduct successful raids whereby several youths have been apprehended while in process of making the deadly explosives. Joint ATPU operations to go on in the major cities where intelligence reports shows are still fertile of terrorist sleeper cells.
Potential VBIED Indicators
- Terrorist opt to use inconsistent vehicle number plates
- Rear end of the vehicle can be seen if carrying heavy load
- Modification of the vehicle, mostly use of heavy duty springs to handle heavier loads
- Rental vehicles with fake papers for dry runs
- Rental facility that spacious for purpose of chemical storage, mixing and assembling
- Delivery of chemical directly from manufacturer to self-storage
Basic Security Procedures at Entrance Checkpoints
Though it is hard to detect the recent VBIED without the explosive checking devices, however, simple basic security procedures at entrance checkpoints should strictly be followed.
- Opening of vehicle bonnet, check for any unusual gargets, equipment, check also if there is any suspicious wiring.
- Check for any additional improvised structure on the vehicle – wind-shield. Wipers, pipes (common on improvised pipe bombs)
- Check vehicle dashboard thoroughly – any suspicious switches on the drivers cabin
- Check for unusual vehicle seams, cuts and bulging car seats
- Check for any unusual improvised casing. Cases under the seats) check the space under the seats thoroughly
- Any suspicious wiring or cases on the vehicle must be seriously vetted by the security officers manning the checkpoints.