• The government should now focus on tarmacking roads in Lamu and Northeastern region to prevent terrorists from planting IEDs on the roads
• Globally, countries such as Pakistan and Philippines use development-based approach to fight violent extremism and terrorism
As a regional power in fighting terrorism, Kenya always takes lead in developing compelling strategies to bolster the war on terror in the country and region.
Kenya received international accolades for the successful “Operation Linda Nchi’’, military intervention in Somalia to fight al Shabaab. Kenya Defence Forces is a strong pillar of the African Union peacekeeping force the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, which succeeded Amisom. KDF is credited with capturing regions hitherto controlled by al Shabaab, pacifying the war-torn country and building capacity of Somalia Security Forces.
Being a complex transnational crime, terrorism requires joint actions from state, non-state actors, citizens and other stakeholders to effectively fight it. It is for this reason Kenyan security agencies embraced multi-agency approach in fighting terrorism in order to synergize counter terrorism efforts and counter terrorism operations for better results.
The strategy provided the much-needed paradigm shift from ‘need to know’ to ‘need to share’, to facilitate free flow of actionable information and intelligence among security agencies and other organizations to mount sound and timely counter terrorism responses.
Principally, agencies involved in counter terror such as the National Police Service, the National Counter Terrorism Centre, the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Kenya Prisons Service, the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, the Financial Reporting Centre, the Judiciary, the Asset Recovery Agency and the Department of Immigration Services, among others, now fully cooperate and collaborate to coherently slay terrorism dragon.
In addition to breaking information sharing barriers, multi-agency engagement strategy solved other myriad challenges such as climate of mistrust, toxic competition, superiority complex, power struggles, bureaucracy, corruption, resource constraints, competing and clashing roles.
Prior to embracing the strategy in 2014, most security institutions and other agencies operated in silos, hampering effective counter terrorism efforts and operations. This is now a thing of the past as agencies work in harmony to deal with terrorism and other criminal activities that are threat to national security.
The seamless inter-agency coordination and collaboration involve components such as joint training of security personnel, sharing intelligence and embracing citizen-centred security approach which enables Kenyans to share information on terrorism through grassroots structures such as Nyumba Kumi and Community Policing to neutralize terrorism threat.
The fruits of these measures are seen in a significant reduction of terror attacks, especially by al Shabaab, more arrests of terrorists and thwarting of raids. For instance, in 2021, a Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies study showed terror attacks in the country reduced by 74 per cent and are projected to reduce further.
There are many multi-agency frameworks in the country that deal with terrorism and other serious crimes. Border Control and Operations Coordination Committee is one such platform that deals with security challenges at Kenya’s border points to prevent entry of illegal migrants, smuggling of guns and contraband goods.
BCOCC is anchored in the Security Laws (Amendment), Act 2014 Section 75 to secure the country’s borders and support efforts to fight terrorism, which is transnational crime.
The National Counter Terrorism Centre is another multi-agency institution that brings together representatives from security agencies and other organizations to spearhead counter terrorism efforts in the country.
Established under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, NCTC coordinates state and non-state actors involved in preventing and countering violent extremism as well as de-radicalization programs to synergize their efforts and response for better results.
One of NCTC’s flagship projects is providing technical support and leadership for development and implementation of County Action Plans as envisaged in the National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism. A number of African countries including South Africa and Malawi have borrowed the multi-agency approach from Kenya in fighting terrorism and terrorism financing to enhance their capacity in handling the crimes.
The latest product of this approach is the “Inter-Agency Guidelines on Cooperation and Collaboration in the Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorism and Terrorism Financing”, under the stewardship of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The guidelines had input from leading Civil Society Organizations such as Haki Africa and Amnesty International, especially on incorporating human rights component to ensure fight against terrorism is done within confines of the law.
These, among other things, encourage, among institutions in the criminal justice system and others, a coordinated approach to addressing serious crimes such as terrorism through sharing information and working on joint investigations to secure convictions. This explains the high rate of convictions secured on terrorism cases in the country hence cementing Kenya’s commitment to the war on terror.
Recently, a Nairobi court sentenced terror suspect Victor Odede Bwire aka Abdullah for 30 years for planning to carry out terror attack at KICC. Bwire was among few al Shabaab remnants in the country assigned to conduct reconnaissance missions on possible targets to attack after security agencies degraded the terrorist group hindering them from conducting major attacks.
The government should now focus on tarmacking roads in Lamu and Northeastern region to prevent terrorists from planting IEDs on the roads, targeting security personnel operating in the area.
Globally, countries such as Pakistan and Philippines use development-based approach to fight violent extremism and terrorism. Security agencies also need to acquire modern security equipment like metal detector coils, infrared-cameras and ground-penetrating radars to effectively counter IED attacks.
There is need to build on the successes of multi-agency approach in fighting terrorism and other serious crimes to make Kenya safe as well consider extending the concept to other fields to improve efficiency in service delivery.