The assertion that Al-Qaeda terrorist group affiliate in Somalia, Harakat Shabaab Mujahideen attacks Kenya primarily because of the army (KDF) intervention Somalia is the common error by intelligence, political, and military community members in seeing “non-state actors” purely in state-centric terms. The scholarly perspective that Al-Shabaab Mujahideen terrorist and militant activities in Kenya is an opportunistic-survival strategy is also wrong. The Lead Counter Terrorism Researcher and Director at Strategic Intelligence (S.I) David Goldman and his team debriefs current narrative paradigm ‘why Somali extremists’ attack Kenya.
Geopolitically, Kenya is a Quintessential
- We first analyze Kenya’s Geopolitical value to the East and Central Africa and Africa’s Horn. According to Geopolitics resource Stratfor, Kenya hugs the Indian Ocean coast just to the southwest of the Horn of Africa. Its neighbors South Sudan and Ethiopia border it to the north, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south and Uganda to the west. The territory of modern-day Kenya and its neighbors has been home to robust Indian Ocean trading networks that date to antiquity. Kenya serves as a center for East Africa’s trade, business, security and diplomatic efforts.
- Somalia’s collapse and its struggles with state-building and militancy, especially the al Shabaab group, has spawned effects that spill over its border with Kenya. Ethnic Somalis — both refugees and Kenyan citizens — have pursued an uneasy existence on Kenya’s northern coast and the lengthy North Eastern Province borderline. This has posed a significant challenge for Nairobi to manage, especially as the security situation in Somalia shows no signs of dramatically improving in the years ahead (Stratfor).
- The Geographic proximity of Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen camps and socioeconomic lifelines in southern Somalia to Kenya’s border makes it easier to plan and launch terrorist attacks targeting both soft and hard targets including military and police bases and stations, frontier prefectures headquarters, tourists filled coastline, and the Capital Nairobi.
Economic and Ethno-Religious Facets
- Geopolitically, Kenya is the biggest economy and military power in sub-Saharan Africa’s, the most important state, and regional economic hub. To exploit the international media which operate in Kenya and the country’s status and subsequent visibility, Shabaab Mujahideen orchestrates attacks whose psychological effects attracts and guarantees a level of international coverage (a vital survival element).
- It is impossible to ignore socio-politics of the North Eastern Prefecture (NEP) of Kenya when aggregating data on terrorism. While addressing the interfacing of religious ideology and terrorism, S.I found out that religious hegemony in NEP factored porosity of the border, religious ethnicity, and politics and that the porosity favored the Somali extremists Shabaab Mujahideen (HSM).
- Our Recent research fused poverty to extremism, an interesting standpoint in this analysis. It is correct to point out the comparatively high number of Kenyan foreign fighters within the terrorists group’s ranks and the presence of terror cells in Kenya and associate the facts with high levels of unemployment and subsequent poverty (poor economic conditions factors extremism). These variables fits al-Shabaab’s motivations and subsequently help it maintain relevance.
A Worrisome Conclusion
- The Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia Harakat Shabaab Mujahideen Movement (HSM), attacks and long protracted guerilla war against Kenya’s North Eastern Prefecture is neither opportunistic nor factored by the deployment of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) to intervene in Somalia, rather a strategic ideological, political, and economic strategy to invade and occupy the NEP, which is Muslim dominated and arguably economically maligned.
- Secondly, the terrorist’s economic motivation aims at taking over oil and gas rich Southern Somalia and Coastal Kenya. The vast coal fields along the frontier region and the coast of Kenya is also of significant interest to the terrorist group. If North Eastern towards the Coast of Kenya and Southern Somalia is untenable security-wise Shabaab Mujahideen can give exploration licenses to oil and gas companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’d mean they acquire significant economic, military, and political muscle. Of course, these ambitions are foreign sponsored.