Kenya: Experts Urge Revamped Policy Framework to Support Counterterrorism Efforts

Capital FM (Nairobi)
By Bruhan Makong
Nairobi — Security experts and stakeholders have urged Eastern African countries to work together to combat escalating cases of violent extremism in the region.

Speaking on Thursday during a virtual meeting that included experts from Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti, and Somalia, among others, the experts said policymakers must commit to a counterterrorism initiative that includes coordinated intelligence sharing.

The appeal comes in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in some countries including Uganda, Mozambique, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania which has led to loss of hundreds of lives

“Unless the East African leaders understand the gravities and the impacts of this terrorist groups and commit to counter, I think we will have more terrorism in the region,” said Abdisalam Guled, a former Deputy Director of the Somalia National Intelligence office, and a security expert.

“Unless we see top State leaders agree bilaterally to fight terrorism and other organized criminals it will be difficult for the security sectors to collaborate cohesively and share intelligence information which matters most today,” he added.

Guled pointed out that the region is currently experiencing instability triggered by recent political conflicts in the neighboring South Sudan and Ethiopia making it vulnerable to infiltration by terrorist organizations.

He added that the Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda linked terror outfit based in Somalia which has staged attacks in Kenya, are highly adaptable and abrasive making it difficult to counter them.

Josephine Kuluo, a security consultant and lawyer, said noted that terrorism has had a negative impact in Kenya the most adverse being loss of lives and property. He added that Kenya has suffered immensely due to its direct involvement in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

Kuluo noted that Kenya has had to invest massive resources in the fight against terrorism to sustain the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officers that are involve in the African Union peace keeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM, which has had an impact on country’s growth.

She called on the Somalia government to step up its efforts to empower the country’s forces in order to take control and fight Al-Shabaab.

“We really need work together, to share information and to collaborate so that we can minimize the impact on a single entity or country,” she stated.

Tabitha Mwangi, a security and Counterterrorism Researcher in East Africa, said that there is need to create a joint database along the borders in the region to keep track of those moving from one country to another.

She further emphasized the need for improved financial intelligence in the region among governments financial institutions and other entities involved with transfer of funds to keep track of the movement of funds in the region.

Mwangi called on the domestication of counterterrorism laws to help countries come up with tailor made solutions to terror related issues.

“Having those local institutions legislations and working closely with communities in every local area since this will help with intelligence collections and understanding the needs of people on the ground and being able as governments, private sectors, civil society to respond to those needs or priorities,” she said.

Martha Njiiri, a representative from IGAD Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE), emphasized the need for member states to work with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) since they have the capacity to handle the complex nature of the challenges that might be experienced in the fight against extremism.

She added that the move will play a key role in improving cross border policing and surveillance.

The security experts further called for improved surveillance in social media spaces to prevent radicalization saying the terror organizations were leveraging on technology to spread their ideologies.

The event which was organized by the Counter Terrorism Policing Kenya (CTP) was also graced by Somalia Ambassador to Sudan Mohamed Issak and Hassan Yassin, the former Somaliland Ambassador and Head of Trade office in UAE.
@Capital FM.