Al Shabaab now targets security guards

A police officer next to a G4S Security van/ FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – Private security companies announced Sunday that they had intelligence that Al Shabaab elements are planning to steal their uniforms to pose as guards with intention of committing terrorist attacks.

A statement from the Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA) said police had warned them to be vigilant to avoid a situation where Al Shabaab can access their uniforms.

“The Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA) has received credible intelligence from the disciplined forces that the Al-Shabaab terror group plans to mobilize its militants to steal uniforms of private security companies and pose as private security guards, with the express intention of carrying out terrorist acts,” KSIA Chairman Tony Sahni said.

He said they have taken adequate measures but cautioned the public to cooperate with private guards at designated security check points.

“With this in mind, we would like to caution members of the public to be vigilant and exercise patience especially when asked to undergo security checks,” Sahni said.

He added that KSIA “is working closely with the regular police and the counter-terrorism police to mitigate this threat; this includes regular intelligence: sharing and counter-terrorism training of security guards.”

He revealed his association had undertaken a raft of measures which include proper vetting all their security guards.

Last week, Nairobi police warned of renewed terror attacks from Al Qaeda network which it said was working closely with Al Shabaab to plan atrocities in the capital.

Provincial Police Chief (PPO) for Nairobi Anthony Kibuchi said security had been stepped up and appealed to city residents to be extra vigilant and take security measures seriously, regardless of their status in society.

“We have received a new threat from Al Shabaab that the most notorious terror group Al Qaeda has joined and has threatened to carry out terror activities,” the PPO said last week.

The alert has prompted the UK to warn its nationals of a heightened risk of attack in the capital, saying it believes attacks may be in the final stages of planning.

“The Kenyan authorities have alerted the public to a heightened threat from terrorist attacks in Nairobi. We believe that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks,” Britain’s statement said.

The Foreign Office did not identify any group but said attacks could be “indiscriminate” and target “Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travelers gather, such as hotels, shopping centres and beaches”.

“We strongly advise British nationals to exercise extra vigilance and caution in public places and at public events,” the statement added.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe on Saturday said that despite a boost in security the threat remained and urged shopping malls to remain vigilant to prevent attacks.

“We don’t believe that Al-Shabaab activities are totally neutralised,” Kiraithe told reporters Saturday, but added that police had thwarted several recent attacks.

“We are denying those with wicked plans to operate freely,” Kiraithe said.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle Shabaab rebels in October after several attacks, including the kidnapping of a French woman and a British tourist – and the killing of her husband – damaged its key tourism industry.

The Shabaab, who deny involvement in the coastal attacks, in turn vowed to attack Kenya.

BERNARD MOMANYI

BERNARD MOMANYI

Bernard is the News Editor at Capital FM. He commands over a decade of experience in news gathering having worked in both print and electronic media. He holds a BSc degree in Information Sciences from Moi University where he is currently enrolled for a Masters programme.