The August 7
midmorning attack on US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania brought al Qaeda to the
limelight. It shaped Kenya’s war on terror and how Kenyans thought about their
The attack was
masterminded by Fazul Mohamed, who was killed by Somalia forces in Somalia in
2011. Experts say the blast was an eye-opener to Kenya and the world on the
threats of terrorism.
Special Forces officer Byron Adera says prior to the bombing, terror was a new
threat. Lack of proper understanding of terrorism bordered on it being regarded
as a mythology, essentially meaning the country operated with delusions, what
Adera termed “wrong brief, wrong solutions”.
acted firmly by sending troops out to combat terrorism in the Middle East. They
had in exchange been warned that counter-attacks would be sponsored on her soil
and her interests abroad,” he said.
efforts were notched up to protect the territorial America, the embassy in
Nairobi sat pensively within a space that suffered myriad weaknesses: a
government security machinery that was ill appreciated, prepared and trained,
and a lacklustre disaster preparedness and response — without a switched-on
Adera cited a misinformed populace that lacked
security awareness as among others gaps that the terrorists exploited to launch
lesson was that terrorism, as a threat, had a global outlook. It was fanned by
a vast array of societal factors, where conflict was an extension of socioeconomic
and political antagonisms. Other factors such as religion were used as generous
veils to sanctify criminality and violence under the shadows of acclaimed
religiosity,” he said.
director of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, said Kenyans were needlessly
victimised in a vendetta against the US.
ago, they struck against the Americans and treated Kenyans as collateral
damage. Their contempt for Kenyan lives was revealed then and has continued,”
Kimani said, the Kenyan people and their government have turned the tide. He
said the terror attack awakened and solidified Kenyans’ patriotism and national
liberty and resolve to defend the country against invading ideologies promoted
by al Qaeda and its affiliate al Shabaab.
disrespect African independence of thought and action. They oppose our
democracy and our prosperity as shown in their attacks. They are not only the
enemies of goodness but of all African people. But we as a country have the
ability to successfully fight against global and regional terrorist organisations,”
At the time
the attack happened, Kenya was not part of any war on terror, but today it is
fighting terrorism in self-defence.
terrorists al Qaeda and al Shabaab are aggressors, invaders, with ambition to
be our oppressors. But a people that fought a global empire for its
independence will not be defeated by terrorists,” he said, adding that Africans
had fought worse terrorism in the forms of slavery and colonialism, and that
this latest one, too, will pass.
Adera said the
twin bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and later the 9/11 attacks in the US, led to
the pronouncement of terrorism as a global threat. This saw countries come out
with interstate and interagency cooperation and strategies.
this was the notched-up training, equipping (resource building) and shored up
intelligence-led counter-terrorism operations, refined by better coordination
between vital moving parts,” he said.
shift from conventional to unconventional warfare made for rapid sharing of
vital actionable intelligence, breaking the shackles of routinised hierarchies,
said, created a revolutionised legislative structure, such as terror-related
laws, and incorporated players including human rights organisations, religious
leaders and the public.
legislative, institutional and operational changes to respond to the threats
“Today we have
our troops in Somalia. This has put us actively in the theatre of international
war on terror, which has seen lessened frequency of attacks with the country,”
efforts and other international forces' campaign in Somalia and elsewhere have
hugely degraded the terrorists’ capacity to launch offensives.”
He said there
has been a change in leadership in critical agencies like the National
Intelligence and National Police Service, all aimed at enhancing security and
“There is more
refined intelligence. Guesswork has been taken out of counter-terrorism
operations. The tranquillity in most spaces within the borders is a testament
to proactive measures taken to harness and exact intelligence, a fair exchange
for the harmful information pathology that informed yesterday’s approaches,” he
said, adding that the there is better formulation, posturing and coordination
between different agencies.
Adera said the
establishment of the NCTC (National Counter-terrorism Centre) has led to more
exacting approaches to the war on terror. There have been soft security
measures, too, like the Countering Violent Extremism, launched by the head of
state last year to involve the citizenry, he said.
hearts of minds of the people within the battle zones and in the country is
essential to keeping the populace on our side and denying the terror cells new
converts,” he said.
decentralisation of services and more impactful sharing of the national cake
mean that the citizenry feel more engaged. This has reduced the large-scale
feeling of disenfranchisement, eliminating chances for recruitment and
meaningful and more intense cooperation between the national and county
governments make for better sharing of vital information relevant in addressing
insecurity. More needs to be done, however, to make the devolved systems work
better,” he said.
other hand called on all Kenyans to play their role, terming the war on
terrorism a collective struggle for safety and security of families,
communities and the country in general.
who preach respect for other religions and cultures, to those who nurture young
people, who start companies that provide employment, and who willingly provide
information to the security services about radicalised and threatening
individuals — their efforts are joined to the bravery and dedication of our
soldiers, police officers and specialised counter-terrorism personnel,” he
after the evil attack of 1998, Kenya is standing tall, wounded but undefeated,
taking the fight to our enemies, and succeeding every day in demonstrating our
determination to be an independent people free from all extremists, be they
colonial ones or those motivated by a warped understanding of religion.”