Fact 1: the nation is at war with terrorism only GoK protects Islamic faith as a constitutional guarantee. The official fight back is not to Islam, it is to the unlawful use of force to meet terrorist goals.
Fact 2: many Muslim and or Somali security agents are involved in the war against terror. They have not come out to complain or protest victimization of their families and friends.
Fact 3: al shabaab is affiliated to al qaeda both have stated goals of spreading extremist Islamic faith and over throw national constitutions through introducing Sharia law by use of force or threat of use of force.
Fact 4: in a war if you fly the flag of your enemy you are the enemy even if that emblem has a holy message. In the USA kuklax clan used the sign of the cross but it didn’t make them Christian. The flag is a symbol used to indicate control of territory even if it is a mosque in Mombasa.
Fact 5: al shabaab was born in Somalia and disguises it’s agenda in Muslim faith. Thus the police will naturally concentrate their vetting in these communities to weed out the evil and leave the genuine.
Fact 6: Muslims and Somalis are not the only ones to be vetted as a community. During the mungiki clean up of the last decade, government vetting concentrated on kikuyu youth as a result we now enjoy freedom from a generally mafia like criminal system.
Fact 7: terrorists wear civilian clothing as uniform and the battle front is the streets you live on. For the police to find the attackers and the houses with hidden weapons and explosives have to vet people in suspected areas and searched all residents private or otherwise.
Fact 8: we the public demand much more from GoK in delivery of smart security that minds violation of personal rights and deals with strategically negative propaganda whether done intentionally or out of exasperation from current poorly perceived GOK security strategy.
To my Kenyan, Muslim brothers and sisters and to all other persons of goodwill around the world, I’d like to undertake here a short examine of the facts about the police swoops going on around the country aka operation Usalama Watch. A lot of protest has been made about the way it has been conducted and that understandably from friends, kin and concerned people alike. I am glad we have a free nation here, where we are all able to air our opinions without fear of reprisal, those comments help keep the recipients in check, whether the accusations are true or false, a matter I hope we can come closer to determining by the last word of this discourse.
Let us establish the first fact, Kenya is not at war with Islam as a religion, its continued practice is guaranteed along other religions in our constitution. This also has been reiterated by President Uhuru recently. The raid in one mosque in Mombasa which we will examine later does not constitute war on religion either, arguing that touching one is an aggression to all, is risking comparison to the proverbial blind mourner who in true African compassion was served with the choice piece of meat at a funeral in western Kenya but went on to contend angrily saying, “if he, a blind man, has gotten such a nice portion, how much better pieces have the seeing mourners been given!” As one Masjid Musa Mosque (then) was raided let us see how many more mosques are being built, supported and protected without issues. So is the GoK evil given its continued issuance of title deeds to Muslim institutions? I would say rather it is doing very good.
The first thing I should have said is that I believe over 90% of all Muslims are indeed piece loving, god fearing persons who abhor any sort of violence against any other human being. In fact as we talk many Muslim and or Somali security officers are engaged actively in the war against terror some of whom I have had the good fortune to meet, love and work alongside including be trained by. As a consequence it will be difficult to convince me that these Muslim and or Somali colleagues are consciously, unfairly victimizing their own brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and children. If it was you in their position would you? (I’ll answer for you No), so why think they would? I certainly would not! Fact: I have not heard any Muslim and or Somali security professionals involved in the command or execution of Usalama watch & other anti terror operations in Kenya, come out to protest or defend their people from unfair government agency harassment. Question to you currently serving officers, would you sell your own people for a morsel of bread or are you being intimidated? What I’d give to hear from an especially senior officer involved in the operation.
In a war if you wear the uniform of your enemy or fly his flag guess what’s going to happen! You don’t need a calculator to figure it out. This surely is a fact, don’t matter if the flag is in a base in Somalia or on a Mosque in Mombasa, GoK should have sent in the army instead of police to take back Kenyan territory. Someone may be asking what war are we talking of? Well terrorism is categorized as a tactic of warfare and Kenya’s president Kibaki declared war on its perpetrators in 2011 since then up to and including KDFs arrival in Mogadishu al-shabaab has never surrendered or called for a cease fire implying we are still at war. The shabaab group is affiliated with al qaeda both groups have their stated goal of spreading their extremist beliefs and rule and governance through Sharia law to our region and throughout the world. Now, no reasonable person would have a problem with that unless as it has become abundantly apparent these groups intend to do the spreading through the sword or by threat of the sword. The way I see it the Quran has just like the bible, been interpreted in various differing ways some extreme others moderate. I personally don’t support the spread of Christianity through coercion just as I don’t expect any proper Muslim would support the spread of Islam (connotes peace) through intimidation. Fact: if that were to happen I would resist it strongly and with all severity. Note I would be resisting being forced. As Dedan Kimathi said, “it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees”. The terrorist have argued they are doing exactly that but question begs who was the original aggressor was al shabaab not the one raiding and taking hostage people in Kenya? When a cleric speaking in public calls over 250 Kenyans, collateral damage, when al qaeda attacked the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 I would call it extremism if he did it sitting in a mosque I would call it extreme Islam. That’s where I believe part of the problem is, because if it was IRA in the 80’s some Christians might have felt like Christianity is under siege from non Christian forces. I see where Muslims and or Somali’s in 2014 may be feeling like they are being victimized in security clamp downs in Nairobi and Mombasa, yet it isn’t so, rather it is this killing, murdering form of religious extremism of whatever orientation Christian or Muslim that thinks to walk into Westgate mall guns blazing, picking off peaceful civilians like insects. The kind that would ask you to receipt a prayer to prove you were of the same faith, failure to which could only earn you an immediate dispatch to the next world via their bullets as postage stamps. Fact: if we do not see too many pastors, churches or seeming Christians being targeted it isn’t because the police are biased rather the police are focusing on Somalis because al shabaab is originally from Somalia and is largely led from there by people from there (Admittedly not exclusively). To add to this Kenya has been home to many refugees legal and otherwise, unfortunately suspected of harboring among them some terrorist elements from their homeland. Unfortunately Kenyan Somali’s and Somalian’s are just one people who were politically separated by colonial powers in the rush for Africa decades ago. The challenge of ones in ethnicity or religion coupled with disgruntled thinking from years of official marginalization in Kenya, similar to the suffering from years of no government in Somalia, I postulate has affiliated some of our Kenyan youth to al shabaab’s cause and activities. Those who were kidnapped were not taken to Ethiopia or to Dar es Salam but to Somalia the challenges thus being the terrorist will not stand up and ID themselves as such so the government has to as it were ‘sieve’ through many suspected Somali’s and or Muslims in order to ID the few extremists with terrorist intentions of bringing down a 20 floor building (as was intended by the recently capture Mombasa VBEID – pipe bomb) in order to convince us to change our faith & constitution. Remember a few years ago when mungiki criminal gang threatened to take over business in Nairobi mafia style. The Kikuyu community where most mungiki hailed saw elimination of many youth in confrontation with police. But was the government out to finish the Kikuyus, haa! Seems preposterous the president himself was Kikuyu, nonetheless weren’t we saved from a society enslaved by a form of African mafia- ism. Fact: In terrorism the uniform is civilian clad the war front is the streets you live on, how else would the police know who is the terrorist and in which house weapons and explosives are hidden unless they vetted people in suspected areas and searched all residents private or otherwise. Why is the focus in Eastligh and Mombasa because the apparent modus operandi of the attackers is to attack seemingly from nowhere because they are so well blended in appearance with residents in those places and because they probably to have to transport their lethal arsenal across town. That’s why immediately after the attack they fade away into nearby hiding places, no trace, no arrest made. If these criminals came from other places say Machakos their logisticians would probably calculate the risk to be too high to travel all the way to another town or estate to deliver death to a singly inconsequential location (no slight intended) like a small restaurant in down town Nairobi. The still unchallenged media pronouncement from Senator of Nairobi Mike Mbuvi aka Sonko, that he passed information on a suspected terrorist cell in the parklands area to NIS a month or so before the Westgate attack confirms an interesting fact of the al shabaab attack trend. The Westgate attackers chose to locate their launching base within a short distance of their target as is the case in Garrisa, Eastligh and Likoni. Finally just by looking at where the attacks are concentrated we can infer at least one more hypothesis, that the groups resources including competent soldiers, weapons and cash is not unlimited in addition they must be very concerned with being detected and arrested otherwise they would be striking at will in the numerous soft targets in different towns of the country. It being a war as I started by saying, one would expect that kind of attacking strategy otherwise to demoralize us would have to take much more. I will write more on this but for now suffice it to say attacks in Eastligh, Mombasa and north eastern regions of the country serve to destroy business and livelihoods of the majority populations in those areas which would be Muslims and Somalis. If I were part of those communities I would be celebrating that GoK has come to our aid even if like during the matatu revolution we are a bit inconvenienced by walking to work.
The National Intelligence Service did well in their contribution to finding the VBIED in Mombasa and the arrest of a doctor suspected of aiding the terror group at pipeline estate recently. That having been said I feel the nation is demanding more from NIS including operations to arrest corrupt immigration, customs and police officers facilitating terror operations through corruption, more intelligence led targeting in and out of the country such that it doesn’t seem like we are fighting on one front. GoK MUST develop an aggressive well coordinated public relations program on social media, the web and TV among others. Terrorism being a battle of the minds much more than it is, a physically destructive tactic unlike the carpet bombings of 2nd world war in Europe, GoK must URGENTLY construct a counter propaganda unit in their security strategy which would so far be dealing with issues like discourse on the above. Just listening to public comments on TV you feel how the negative sentiment from some sectors is contributing and playing right into the hands of master terror planners and at the same time further alienating law abiding Muslims and Somalis who in the first place have suffered a raw deal from previous administrations in their majority areas like the coast and northern Kenya. Some concerns like involving community leaders in security operations can be easily dealt with if general briefings immediately after swoops and planned visits to detention centers later among other initiatives are properly strategically organized This task is technically much wider than what we see as a task left for security chiefs and politians to undertake.