NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – The National Counter Terrorism Centre Director Martin Kimani has raised concerns over the recent trend where young learned Kenyan youths are being lured into joining terror groups.
He says terrorist are increasingly targeting students using attractive narratives but says the centre is spearheading the implementation of a new National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism.
“We know the terrorists are targeting the young and educated for recruitment into their fold,” he said during remarks at the University Students Leadership forum at the Management University of Africa.
Kimani said the overall aim of the strategy is to rally all sectors of Kenya’s social, religious and economic life to emphatically and continuously reject violent ideologies.
This way, he said, the move will help to shrink the pool of individuals that terrorist seek to radicalise and recruit, among them students.
“It is for all of us, especially our young Kenyans to lead the way in showing your fellow students, your families and communities the light,” he said.
“That evil is knocking on our door and wants to claim not just our lives but our dignity and our hope.”
He however said the government in partnership with other authorities in the region will defeat the menace.
“They have picked the wrong people, the wrong country, the wrong continent and the wrong moment,” he said.
Tens of Kenyans students are believed to have joined various terror groups in the continent and various parts of the world.
The government has embarked on a major de-radicalisation programme and urged dozens of youths who had joined the terror group to surrender.
An amnesty on youths who have joined terror groups is also in place.
Kenya has seen increased efforts towards fighting terror following a series of attacks that claimed hundreds of lives, the recent one being the attack on the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia.
The government in collaboration with other stakeholders has developed a National Counter Violent Extremism policy, to be used with other laws in the war against terror.
Parents have also been asked to take keen interest of their children more so on their online activities.
On February 18, Kenya’s anti-terrorism police arrested a university student who was travelling to Libya to join terror group ISIS through Sudan.
The student according to police had used part of his school fees to buy the ticket.
He had just completed his first year studying biochemistry at the University of Nairobi.
He was under police watch and was arrested as he left for the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Investigations have revealed that the student was lured into joining the terror group by an online recruiter who promised him a high paying job.
There has been an upsurge of university students dropping out to join extremist groups in Libya and the Middle East.
Two students from the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University disappeared from their homes in the South C Estate, Nairobi early last year.
Also on the list of students is a former University of Nairobi Law student and a banker who led Al-Shabaab militants in killing 148 people at Garissa University College last year.
Mohammed Abdirahim Abdullahi was among four terrorists who were killed by the police during the attack.