By Abdikadir Sugow
The attack on Garissa University College has once again exposed the danger that Kenya faces from armed terrorists determined to threaten the country’s security and harm innocent Kenyans.
Indeed, the brazen raid by Al-Shabaab militants provides a painful lesson that schools, colleges, markets, places of worship, and residential areas remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
It is clear that the militants are out to cause mayhem and destroy the history of peaceful coexistence among Kenyans of different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. They are out to create bad blood, the way they did in Somalia. These agents of terror do not value or respect human life.
As the security agencies grapple with the task of dealing with the heavily armed attackers who obviously meticulously planned their deadly mission, questions arise as to how they were able to sneak in despite stepped up security in the region.
Garissa is deep inside Kenya, so there is no doubt that the attackers must have received help from inside.
Al-Shabaab sympathisers and moles are at large in the insecurity-prone Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa. They must be living among the local communities, helping the criminals evade security checks.
A NEW WAY
There is an urgent need for Kenya’s security agencies to change tack and devise new strategies to deal with the growing danger of terrorism. There have been too many attacks in the recent past — Westgate, Mpeketoni, Mandera, and other smaller attacks in Nairobi and in Mombasa — for business to go on as usual among our security agencies.
This trail of blood, death, and destruction that these agents of hatred leave in their wake must not be allowed to continue. Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery will have to mobilise all the arms of security to chart a new way to deal with this cancer of terror that continues to rear its ugly head.
One way to get ahead of murderous Al-Shabaab terrorists is to rely more on intelligence gathering. It is disturbing that all these attacks have been preceded by warnings, sometimes in the public domain, that the terrorists have locked on to certain targets, yet we are always taken by surprise.
Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet’s experience at the National Security Intelligence Service should come in useful. He should harmonise the different security agencies with one specific goal: tackling insecurity, with particular attention to terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab.
The militants have shown that they are highly adaptable, using different ways to attack and combining new technologies and tried-and-tested ways to spread terror. The terrorists and suspected sympathisers must be monitored closely and tracked on the ground, at sea, and in the air.
Intelligence gathering and processing of information must be improved. Security officers must be properly armed to deal with the sophisticated weapons that terrorists carry.
It must be made possible for the officers to be transported swiftly to spots where they are needed. Security personnel must also be properly motivated through adequate remuneration and allowances. Local residents can be incorporated to assist as they are familiar with the terrain and know their neighbours.
County governments should be involved in security matters and governors should be among those to be briefed on security issues. It is clear that dealing with terrorism does not concern the national government alone.
Kenyans should not be intimidated by the cowardly attacks of heartless militants such as Al-Shabaab. They should be prepared to do everything to defend themselves from those bent on taking away their peace and hard-won independence. Kenyans are intelligent people and should not be conned into blindly following senseless ideologies.
Sugow, is Garissa County director of communications. firstname.lastname@example.org