Kenya: War on Terror or Attack on Civil Liberties?


By Benjo Ndolo,

Somalilandsun – Barely a year ago while doing analysis on a local morning TV show, I accurately predicted that the excursion into Somalia and the war on terror would extract their fair share of stress, fatigue and worry on the Kenyan public since an unconventional war comes with lots of variables.

The magnitude and complexities of terrorism have begun to sink into our national psyche after the alleged Westgate and Likoni church ‘terrorist’ attacks.

While several armchair analysts and hecklers have taken to social media to cheer the killing of ‘Makaburi’, a self-confessed terror supporter and in so doing put more innocent Kenyans in peril, I chose to look at the issue from a different lens. A suspected terrorist gives an interview and declares attacks on innocents are warranted, that it is justified to recruit terrorists into cells and that he looks forward to death and ‘salivates’ for it presumably to meet his maker as a martyr along with 70 virgins. The media gives him a platform. On the flip side, a young mother loses her life clutching her baby while inside a church during worship and the baby is left with a shell casing lodged in the head. I look at this scenario and asked myself; so who is winning?

I find that our society is petrified of the truth. We are scared to look at absolutes and details, choosing instead the simple and the easy. Thinking and connecting dots is too much work. It is why our political establishment and culture has seen the rise of platitudes and shallowness. And as we embrace simplicity, mediocrity and laziness the world gets more complex. And all of a sudden Somalis are being profiled and rounded up in Kenya!

But how did we get here in the first place? Somalia lost its government in 1990/1991 and has been unstable since. For almost 25 years, our neighbor to the north has been a nightmare as far as governance is concerned. We should never have been a sleepy neighbor, willing to let in illegal immigrants and to auction grand buildings downtown Nairobi for a cup of gold! Eastleigh is now a den of all manner of stuff, at best an example of what happens when big money and big egos collude against an incompetent system and government unwilling and unable to provide even basic planning and services.

Kenya defences forces have suffered casualties in their operations against Al-shabaab in somalia

Suddenly a neighborhood that used to house forty thousand people becomes a small town, nicknamed ‘Little Mogadishu’ with a population of over seven hundred thousand people, with no additional sewer lines, roads, power and other utilities. Around two million US dollars circulate in the neighborhood daily. I have no doubt that a lot of untoward things happen in that part of Nairobi but so do they too in Luthuli Avenue, Kirinyaga Road, Kiamaiko, Kariobangi, Kariokor, Pangani and many other parts of the city.

Even as we search and comb for terrorist elements, to be seen to be antagonizing or persecuting an entire community actually helps the enemy in the recruitment strategies! The best the police can do is make it clear that human rights abuses will not be tolerated and that the Constitution is upheld at all times. But this must not be rhetoric. The police must say and mean and walk every word of it.

Looking carefully at the explosion that killed two officers last week after a vehicle was intercepted and guided to Pangani police station and knowing through my keen study of these groups that Al Qaeda specializes in such spectacular attacks, I have little doubt that what we witnessed is our first recorded suicide attack in Kenya’s history. What was even more astounding to me was how two officers on foot after suspecting a vehicle, so casually jumped into it! It is also not lost on me that the two attackers without saying a single word to each other detonated the vehicle and were willing to die. This is the kind of warfare that should baffle any straight thinking Kenyan and cause them to interrogate whether we need Operation Usalama as being conducted and if it’s worth it to open a full out war front with these types of murderous characters.

And as we are digesting all this, a grand announcement is made that we are going to be paying pending Anglo Leasing bills. Wait a minute, I thought Anglo Leasing was a ghost?! A senior cabinet minister at the time said to the then Ethics and Governance PS John Githongo something to the effect; ‘go easy… this thing is us… ‘ So we want to have another Anglo Leasing on top of Anglo Leasing? Are politicians and the AG smoking pot on a daily? Kenya is a poor country struggling to survive; we are unable to pay teachers, doctors, build roads, fund devolution fully and we have an economy that is not creating jobs. But we must rob the public coffers to pay Ruparell, Pereira, Kamani and the rest of crooks all named in broad daylight after investigations? What makes it so sickening is that the campaign to do this is led by a Reverend, one who spent years as a progressive activist in the Ufungamano initiative for a new constitution.

What are we paying for? Who are we paying? Had we done all the proposed Anglo Leasing projects dutifully and cleanly when they were initiated, there would be no insecurity in Kenya today!

Kenyans are getting sick and tired. Kenyans are being provoked daily by Jubilee. President Uhuru Kenyatta was the chair of PAC which did investigations into this mammoth scandal. He knows who the culprits are. Mr. President, round them up all and let them pay. Remember we need money for Rail, Roads and Laptops. Let’s uphold the Constitution and dignity of Kenyans even as we prosecute the wars on Terror and Corruption.

Source: The Star

The writer is a Geo political/Social commentator and strategist. He is also the founder/Director of ONE, a lobby group based in Nairobi.