BY H.E. UHURU KENYATTA
Our country and our people are under attack. A war has been waged against ALL Kenyans by an enemy hiding behind religion, and much innocent blood has been shed. Kenya has been subjected to a long history of murder and violence at the hand of bandits, terrorists and extremists.
For over two decades now, Kenya has endured immense vulnerability owing to the collapse of the Somalia Government in 1991. This led to civil war in that country, and provided space for bandits to roam the entire region at will.
This space became ideal for terrorists to train and plan far-reaching attacks in the region, continent and even abroad. From Somalia, they inflicted murder and mayhem with impunity everywhere they went. Kenya has, by far, borne the brunt of these terrorist attacks.
In August 1998, 200 Kenyans were murdered by terrorists when they detonated a bomb at the US Embassy in Nairobi. In November, 2002, terrorists struck in Kikambala, Kilifi County, claiming over a dozen lives.
Since then, a spate of attacks and abductions threatened our people and the economy, violated our territorial integrity and insulted our sovereignty. More recently, there has been a series of terror attacks, culminating in the violence and murder at the Westgate Mall in September last year, and the murders early this morning in Mandera. These terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of more than 500 civilians and 300 security officers.
After decades of horror, fear, outrage and frustration, we resolved as a nation to protect our sovereignty by pursuing our enemies beyond our borders into Somalia. By mid-2011, it had become abundantly clear that our long border with an ungoverned territory teeming with violent criminals was a threat to our national stability. Joining military efforts to bring peace to Somalia was the inevitable answer to our terror and security threats. In October, 2011, the Government authorized the KDF to pursue the Al Shabaab militia into Somalia. This decision was right then, and remains so today.
Following requests by regional, continental and global actors, KDF joined AMISOM in February 2012. We remain part of the African Union mission to date.
The incursion in Somalia has been largely successful. Al-Shabaab is depleted and on the retreat. However, even in its diminished state, it remains a threat to our nation. In desperation, it formally affiliated itself in 2012 to Al Qaeda, the international terrorist group.
This way, they secured resources and ability to infiltrate civilian populations and recruit, then radicalize Kenyan youths to execute attacks within our communities.
This is why we have witnessed intensified extremist rhetoric against the KDF campaign in Somalia as well as support for murder and impunity. This reprehensible rhetoric has embraced Al Qaeda’s extremist ideas of setting up an Islamic Caliphate in East Africa.
Places of worship have become fertile places for recruitment and several Mosques have been taken over by radicalized terrorist sympathizers and accomplices.