The terrorist attack that claimed 147 lives at Kenya’s Garissa University on April 2 last year triggered a national re-awakening on the need to improve vigilance, social harmony and inter-agency coordination in order to avert future attacks. Security experts who spoke to Xinhua during separate interviews on Friday hailed reorganization of Kenya’s security architecture after the Garissa terrorist attack.
Captain Werunga Simiyu, a Nairobi-based security consultant, said Kenya learned from security loopholes that made it possible for terrorists to stage an attack at Garissa University.
“The government deserves kudos for implementing one of the most elaborate counter-terrorism strategies after the Garissa university attack. We have managed to foil several attacks, but cannot afford to be complacent since the threat is still lurking in the shadows,” Simiyu said on Friday.
He noted that Kenya’s security agencies have improved on information sharing while their robust engagement with communities has helped track, identify and arrest terrorists.
“There is no denying we learnt sound lessons from Garissa attack on how to respond more effectively to terrorism. However, we need to scale up vigilance at soft targets like schools, colleges, markets and remote villages,” Simiyu told Xinhua.
The veteran security analyst emphasized that investment in armored vehicles, drones, re-training of security personnel is key to revitalize the war against terrorism in Kenya.
“Our counter-terrorism strategies still require some improvement. We must improve intelligence gathering and draw lessons from Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania on how to re-invent community policing,” Simiyu said.
However, security experts said the war against terrorists who have disrupted Kenya’s security architecture can only be won if the government re-evaluates the current anti-terror strategies.
The experts noted that Al-Shabaab and a host of rag tag local militias pose a serious threat to Kenya’s stability, economic growth and social cohesion.
Andrew Franklin, a security analyst, was of the view that Kenya will only defeat terrorists if it reorganized military strategy and intelligence gathering.
“Kenya is facing significant existential threats both from without its borders and within. The government should enforce existing laws and revamp security apparatus to combat terrorism effectively,” Franklin told Xinhua.
The East African nation has suffered a series of attacks from Somalia based militants since the country deployed its troops to the anarchic horn of African state in 2011.
Somalia based militants, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the slaughter of Garissa university students terming it a reaction for Kenya’s military engagement inside the horn of African state.
As Kenya marks the 1st anniversary of Garissa University terrorist attack, there was consensus the east African nation ought to up the game in order to defeat this evil.
Frequent attacks inside the Kenyan soil by Al-Shabaab has challenged the status quo and ignited fierce debate on the effectiveness of existing counter-terrorism strategies.
The East African nation has bore the brunt of terrorism in recent past thanks to its proximity to Somalia, weak policing and haphazard coordination among security agencies.
Nevertheless, the country has drawn lessons from this predicament to rejuvenate its counter-terrorism measures in the last one year.
Colonel Benjamin Muema, a Nairobi based security expert, noted that Kenya was winning the war against terrorism after Garissa massacre though challenges remained.
“The government’s swift reaction after Garissa attacks was commendable. The reshuffle of security personnel in that region brought some confidence while state agencies learned how to cooperate better among themselves and with the public,” Muema told Xinhua.
He added that investment in surveillance technology, capacity building for law enforcement officers and community engagement was crucial to nip the menace of terrorism in the bud.
Kenya should take a sober look at its approach to dealing with terrorism ahead of the first anniversary after the Garissa university massacre.
Richard Tuta, a security analyst commended the resolve by the political class, security bosses, religious and community leaders to unite behind a campaign against terrorism after Garissa university attack.
While admitting that Kenya has made huge strides in the war against terrorism, Tutah warned against laxity that may jeopardize future efforts to eradicate the menace.
“The threat of terror keeps on mutating and this scenario should worry everyone. Militants are forging alliances and leaning from each other on how to achieve their evil goals despite our heightened vigilance,” Tutah said.
His remarks were echoed by Franklin who decried the rise of violent extremism that threatened the security architecture and social fabric across the East and Horn of African region.
“Religious extremism underpins terrorism and insecurity that has become pronounced in this region. This challenge demands swift and collective response going forward,” Franklin remarked.
He called on the government to overhaul the national police service to enhance its capacity to combat crime, terrorism and insurgency.
He emphasized that a well-equipped intelligence service and border patrol unit should be stationed at terror hotspots to nip the menace in the bud.
“Kenya should deal a fatal blow to Al-Shabaab through robust surveillance at the border using unmanned drones. It should find innovative ways to counter insurgency in northeastern counties and the coast,” the expert suggested.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in his state of the union address on March 31st reiterated his government’s commitment to eradicate the menace of terrorism.
He noted that Kenya has not experienced major terrorist attack after Garissa massacre thanks to improved border surveillance, intelligence sharing and community policing. Enditem