Form the title loosely translated as, “Tell it as it is, These Security Officers are Working”, some people may begin counting all the ills levied regularly against the police; corruption, extra judicial killings, lethargy, reactionary instead of preventive tactics etc, etc. Yet it is important to recognize that among all that there are many security officers in all units laying down their lives to deliver to us safety, assurance and a chance at normal living.
For example police officers in Mombasa County just this month were able to recover ammunition and explosives including three grenades from a house in Kisauni. As it was reported widely, after a tip off by members of public they raided the home, in that process engaging in a gun battle with suspects holed up inside where the officers shot dead two of them who later were identified as Salim Hanjary Benzimba and Kibwana Ahmed Abdalla, alias Rajab.
Interestingly enough we saw the suspects’ family and other persons coming out to say these boys were innocent, non violent citizens who were not in hiding and accusing the police for using excessive force instead of just arresting them. Understably the families were in shock, grief and even possibly denial of what might have happened. I would not expect anything else from those especially close to the deceased. The fact that the families strongly defended the boys from any wrong doing is only consistent with the expected outcomes from a clandestine operation, as that conducted by al shabaab. Terrorist is not one of those jobs where you let people know and send you celebratory notes on your career anniversary, least of all your own family.
Even then the negative perception created from their statements in that inconsolable moment is inconsistent with any logical assessment of the circumstances. For example that police would be expected to arrest non-violently, any terror suspects who are in possession of lethal weapons and whom have not surrendered to them. Just look at Kenya’s recent national security history. The agencies charged with keeping us safe have foiled many terror activities, the majority never making it to the news desk. But for those which have, like at Garissa University, we saw a GSU officer lose his life in a grenade attack as they tried to rescue hostages held by terrorists. Then more recently we saw another GSU officer lose his innocent life at Kapenguria police station as the rendition team tried to root out the assailant who had taken over the station. Now imagine you were part of the team on July 21st, in Kisauni Mombasa as for me if the suspects didn’t give up when told to, I wouldn’t be aiming at the leg or the hand!
Then there is the issue of purported innocence of those shot dead. Well in life I know many people as we all do. Many of them I strongly believe are innocent of any crime. None of them have grenades, rounds of ammo and detonators or such like things in their possession anywhere, if they did I will be first to report it, [be warned]. Those are not ordinary materials that one can just purchase at your local supermarket and they certainly are not the kind of things to be used in any regular legal occupation. The mere possession of the materials the police recovered in that raid is enough evidence of serious criminal intent, don’t you think so?
There are three arguments to be made for the presence of the weapons in that house, the one I personally subscribe to is that the suspects knowingly brought the catchment for storage in the house, hence their resistance during the police intervention. The second theory would be that some other member of the house hold brought the things there. In which case the police may need to investigate the surviving members further to see any likely associations to terrorism. Problem with this explanation is why would the now deceased suspects engage in a fire fight with police if they were innocent and unaware of the terrorism equipment in their house? The third hypothesis is that the police themselves introduced the lethal devices to cover for their excessive violent acts. For that to hold water we must begin by presuming the alleged extra judicial manner used by the police had to be premeditated as that’s the only way they would have known to bring along the stuff to plant on the suspects once finished. Note the materials don’t consist of standard issue police equipment. Other questions also arise like this was an officially sanctioned intervention probably at the highest operational level within the County it probably involved more than one unit say intelligence services, the anti terrorist units and the rendition team that went to the site. Is it conceivable that all these units colluded to kill two presumably innocent people and then plant false evidence to protect themselves? I simply think that’s too much of a conspiracy theory.
Even if the police wanted to shoot someone or to threaten someone why not look for a moneyed person like an illicit drug baron they can extort, enough of them live in Mombasa. If someone said this was politically motivated misuses of the cop force maybe that, yet these were reportedly jobless, innocent youth with insignificant individual political clout so no it wasn’t that. It could have been as a result of a love triangle involving the police. But again the public statements decrying police action didn’t bring that as the reason.
So let us call this spade what it is, a counter terrorism action where two likely terrorists unfortunately but by their own determination, lost their lives. My gratitude to the many hard working, selfless security officers in whatever unit or function nationally and internationally giving so courageously at such great personal cost to themselves and their loved ones so that the rest of us can live and air our opinions for or against anything and everything we experience.
That said I look longingly towards the day when we see world class police services consistently executed nationwide.
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