NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 19 – For terrorism to be defeated in Kenya and the globe, there is the need for enhanced citizen- security agency collaboration, according to the Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre Ambassador Martin Kimani.
Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs forum in the US, Ambassador Kimani urged the security agencies to take advantage of the increased internet penetration in the world, for timely intelligence gathering on any imminent threat to security.
He gave examples of the Kenyan scenario where increasingly, there are community-security agency forums where “they are able to sit down and discuss what are the issues right at the local level that are affecting us… issues like where does there seem to be recruitment going on, where is there incitement?… and a lot of time, citizens are ahead of the security services because they understand who these people are.”
“That is one of the promising areas that we have seen movement.”
He revealed that Kenyan security agencies have benefited greatly from a closer people-police relationship in fighting crime and more so violent extremism.
“The amount of data coming from citizens to the security services in Kenya has quantitatively leaped because of this kind of approach,” he said.
By involving citizens, he said, they will take ownership of the insecurity mitigation measures put in place.
Which he said, can only be effective in an environment where there are no ethnic proliferation, tribalism, racism among other –isms socially frowned upon.
“One of the things that I hope could emerge from this conversation in Chicago is the need to go back to citizenship development, citizenship protection, and advocacy,” he asserted.
Security agencies also have the challenge of presenting a powerful counter-narrative against that of the terrorists, which is often appealing to youths and other marginalised groups, he pointed out.
The theme of the high-level conference was Planning for Disruption and Promoting Resilience in Cities across the World.
Also present was Former Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service Bernard Hogan who shared his experiences in curbing security threats in a first world country.
“The good protection of everyone is good intelligence… so provided you know who will attack you, take them out before they hurt you… we have always followed that mantra, where you arrest and take them to court and then where necessary people go to prison,” he said.
He also emphasised on the need for good facilities and training for the security agencies.
Though the United Kingdom has faced increased terror attacks, the security response has always been remarkable as observed by panelists.
Like on June 4, UK police responded to a terror attack that saw seven people killed and 40 others injured.
Within a few minutes, all the 3 assailants had been killed.
British intelligence estimates that the number of jihadists in the country is a staggering 23,000 people – of whom 3,000 pose a potentially imminent threat to public safety.
It is a trend that has led to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May declaration of “enough is enough.”
May said the current security challenges in Britain and the world cannot be eliminated by “military intervention only.”
“It will not be defeated by the maintenance of a permanent defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners.
“It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values – pluralistic British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate,” were her words on June 4, after the London Bridge attack.
Kenya has as well paid heavily in the ever-changing threat of terror, which remains real according to local security agencies.
In less than a month, the country has lost more than 20 police officers to terror attacks.
In the recent attacks, the terrorists used Improvised Explosive Devices.
Other than pockets of attacks that have claimed tens of lives, Kenya has had three major terrorist attacks executed by the Somalia-based Al Shabaab in recent years.
On September 21, 2013, the militia killed 67 people in an attack on the Westgate Mall.
Between June 15 and 16, 2014, the same terror group launched a major attack in Mpeketoni area of Lamu County, claiming 60 lives.
On April 2, 2015, 148 students of Garissa University College were killed by terrorists and 79 others injured in one of the worst attacks in Kenyan history.
Whatever the measures, Kenya has urged the globe to unite in fighting the menace through a common approach.