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“Terrorism – who will come to the rescue?”
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“Terrorism – who will come to the rescue?”

Humphrey Musila picExamining the factors behind terrorism is a means to combat the threat, writes Humphrey Musila, 25, a Correspondent from Kenya now studying in the United States, but the process involves asking hard questions.

My heart goes out to the victims of the terrible and senseless attack that took place on 2nd of April 2015 at Kenya’s Garissa University. On that fateful day, nearly 150 students were massacred by Somali militants from the group known as Al-Shabaab. It was the country’s worst terrorist attack since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi.

The issue at hand here is the Al-Shabaab, believed to be one of the most violent groups under Al Qaeda. Kenya has suffered greatly at the hands of these militants for a long time. If my memory serves me right, in the year 2013 the group killed hundreds of civilians in the coastal region of Kenya and stormed places of worship with grenades. Late September of the same year, nearly 67 people were killed inside the Westgate shopping mall in the heart of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, in what was termed as a terrorist attack by the same Al-Shabaab group.

All the above atrocities lead us to ask ourselves hard and mind-boggling questions. What is the government of the day doing in terms of taking measures to protect her citizens from the uncouth attacks by these militia groups? Why are young people being radicalized? What does the future hold for the security situation in Kenya?

Could the issue of corruption be a contributing factor in the above issues? I bet your guess is as good as mine. This is why: Having been born and raised in Kenya, I observe there is no doubt that the Kenyan police force suffers corruption. Actually, according to Transparency International report, Kenya’s police force is one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. The report notes that police services are marred with bribery, corruption and greedy police officers. One may argue that most of the corruption is fuelled by the poor working and living conditions of our men and women in uniform, who are supposed to protect the lives of Kenyans. Such conditions may tempt them to look for alternatives to make ends meet in life.

You will further bear me witness that Kenya was once a peaceful nation. As I write this, one of the key pillars of the Kenyan economy – tourism – has been highly affected by the terrorist attacks. Yet the experience of the Westgate mall attack in 2013 seems to have faded in thin air, as evidenced by an apparent disregard of intelligence when the attack happened. It is an attack that is believed to have been well planned and orchestrated, as victims were reportedly separated according to religion during the attack. To add salt to injury, there had been warnings of possible attack by the United Kingdom and Australian governments in the previous week, warnings that the Kenyan government did not take seriously.

As a young person I’m prompted to ask myself hard questions as to why young people are being recruited to join terrorist groups. It is not an issue affecting Kenya alone.  A few months ago, two New York City women were arrested and charged with plotting an ISIS-inspired attack involving a homemade bomb.

I’m left perplexed as to what exactly is the motivating factor for young people to join ISIS, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda and other terror groups. It is, however, interesting to note that one of the terrorists in the Garissa attack was a Kenyan lawyer who graduated from a local university and was known to be a son of a government official. It makes one wonder why such a young person with a promising future would fall into the trap of bloodthirsty criminals. Perhaps many of these recruits are desperate young people from poor backgrounds, who are in dire need of good jobs, or yearning for easy ways to gain wealth. In fact, there are always some who will react by rebelling and others who will eventually turn to criminal gangs.

Kenya ought to rededicate itself to working with the international community to combat terrorism. Security agents ought to share intelligence information across the government. Likewise, reforms such as restructuring the national security agencies will be an important key factor in combating terrorism in Kenya.

photo credit: Nairobi 1980 via photopin (license)

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About me: I’m studying Political Science and Computer Science from Park University in the United States, and am the founder of African Tutor – an online platform assisting student academics and providing tutor jobs for graduates.

I’m currently an intern at Coro Kansas City internship (USA) – a highly intensive top ten nationally ranked internship program in public affairs. I am passionate about youth and global affairs, social media marketing, research and writing, education, youth empowerment, public policy and information technology.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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