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Terror threats loom large in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti has said that the country is faced with numerous challenges of terror threats.

Professor Saitoti said security agencies were also faced with another dilemma of re-emerging organised gangs which need to be tackled urgently.

He urged security agencies to increase their capacity to gather intelligence from their sources to help counter the emerging threats.

“In order to catch up with the emerging crimes, we have decided to shift from being reactive or fire-fighters to being proactive,” he said.

“There are new challenges which the District Security and Intelligence Committees will have to handle.  For instance, organised criminal gangs, proliferation of illegal firearms, cattle rustling, human and drug trafficking, terrorism and of late piracy,” he said.

Police are currently investigating reports that criminal gangs were planning an attack on Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The Prime Minister is understood to have been urged to avoid using privately-chartered planes when travelling within the country and instead use the Military helicopters which are constantly under surveillance.

The concerns by Professor Saitoti came amid reports that US President Barack Obama’s intelligence director Dennis Blair had told the Senate that Kenya was likely to face increasing dangers of terror attacks this year as “Islamic extremists” plot to hit US targets.

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 “We judge the terrorist threat to US interests in East Africa, primarily from al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic extremists in Somalia and Kenya will increase in the next year,” Mr Blair is quoted by a local newspaper as having told the Senate.

Al-Qaeda’s East Africa network is continuing to plan operations against American, European and local targets, he added.

He also singled out the Somalia Islamist group al-Shabaab’s growing influence due to what he termed “high-profile US role in the region” and the perception that the United States is intervening in Somalia.

 “We assess US counter-terrorism efforts will be challenged not only by the al-Qaeda operatives in the Horn, but also by Somali extremists and increasing numbers of foreign fighters supporting al-Shabaab’s efforts,” Mr Blair is reported telling the Senate Intelligence Committee.

On Monday, Professor Saitoti announced that security had been intensified along porous borders in the country.


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