The fact that a couple of extremist youths from without and within the country can successfully meet, think, plan and execute terrorist acts of unprecedented scale amid

massive state security presence is indeed worrying. The recent massacre of 147 Garissa University students by Al Shabaab militants has uncovered two important things- a grey area in Kenya’s security operations and a continually changing face of terror. This is a great threat to national security that requires more than the procedural management- by- crisis kind of reactionary crack-down on aliens, forex bureaus and NGO’s to counter. Though the government has revised security protocols since the Westgate attack in 2013, Al Shabaab has shockingly managed to come up with more sophisticated ways to outpace and beat state security organs. This includes diversifying recruitment beyond traditional madrassa graduates to include highly educated professionals capable of exploiting ICT to network locally, regionally and globally.

In the obtaining scenario, police are left chasing stereotype radical Muslim youths in kanzus and beards- who may be mere pawns in the modern game of terror warwhile the potential terrorists roam freely across the country in business suits, laptops and explosives laughing all the way to their intended targets right under the nose of security agencies. Terror operations also seem to have been devolved beyond their traditional home in Somalia such that while KDF is being kept busy containing Al Shabaab in Somalia, unidentified local cells continue their activities in Kenya with negligible resistance. Faced with the expediency of changing terrorist tactics, what must not be overlooked is that Al Shabaab’s strength is profoundly in the ideological front. With initial backing from the M.E, their indoctrination program began early 1980’s with the systematic take-over of madrassas and mosques from the mainstream Muslim communities. Following closure of
foreign funding by the Government, the institutions continue to be sustained by economically empowered sympathizers, hence, ensuring a steady growth in both quantity and quality of radical youths.

The gist of the matter is that administrative and security reforms alone cannot be enough to guarantee national security. Government policies must be matched with an ideological counter-strategy geared towards changing the mindset of the whole country. All madrassas, public and private educational Institutions from nursery to university must be empowered to help reverse radicalization by providing a counter-narrative in line with the true teachings of Islam. Only then, will the nation successfully and sustainably de-radicalize the youth and nurture a peace-oriented, patriotic future generation with ingrained sense of collective responsibility for the peace, security and development of their country regardless of faith.

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