20 September 2017

Somalia: Al Shabaab Poses Biggest Threat to Kenya's Security

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) has singled out terrorism as the biggest threat to Kenya's national security and development.

In a report presented during the induction of MPs Wednesday, NIS Deputy Assistant Director Alexander Muteshi said that the threat remains high in border counties of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Lamu.

Mr Muteshi told the MPs that the threats are propagated by terrorist organisations like the Al-Shabaab that has its cells in neighbouring Somalia and the Islamic State (IS) group that operates in Puntland, Libya, Syria and Iraq.

"What makes the threats dangerous is that they are targeting churches, malls, schools and other public places. But the success against this is the multi-agency approach we have adopted to deal with them," Mr Muteshi said.

He pointed out that the threats have been pushed away from the cities to the border areas.

He also noted that the National Counter Terrorism Centre has helped in building resilience through educating the youth, the masses and religious groups.

According to Mr Muteshi, the country is already dealing with over 200 returnees from Somalia in South Coast, who are targeting Nyumba Kumi elders, locals and the police.

Some of these gangs are said to operate in groups christened as the Gaza boys, Wakali Wao and Wakali Kwanza, among others.

He also said that online radicalisation, which is a global problem, is another threat.

It is propagated by IS and targets the youth tertiary learning institutions like universities and colleges.

"We are facing an enemy [who] is highly radicalised, [who] has no value for human life, highly idealised and highly trained both militarily and intelligence-wise. They have logisticians who are responsible for transporting weapons and their other logistical requirements," he said.

Mr Muteshi also warned politicians that ethnic local politics has affected cohesion, development and unity of the country and that it is polarising.

"If it is not dealt with, it will always be there every election year," he said.

Other external threats, according to the NIS report, include espionage, regional instability like in Somalia and South Sudan and the competition for benefits arising from national interests.

The MPs, more so the new ones, were advised on how they should engage with diplomats as they may fall into the trap of espionage.

"Be very careful with what you share with diplomats, they are intelligence officers," Mr Muteshi told them.

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