Massacre should strengthen troops’ resolve
- Security agents must infiltrate Al-Shabaab cells. They must monitor every movement of Al-Shabaab
The reasons Al-Shabaab must be defeated and why Kenyans must unite against this ragtag army are crystal clear. First, this militia wants Kenyan Christians and Muslims to go to war against each other.
It is why Al-Shabaab hirelings, recruits and adherents would slaughter and maim innocents at prayer in a Garissa church.
Second, Al-Shabaab’s reasoning is that if Christians in Garissa are led to attack their Muslim brothers in the town, reaction from Muslims will not be confined to the town for there is a Muslim in every corner of the country.
Kenya is at war with Al-Shabaab not because of Islam but because of the militia’s unprovoked aggression.
Kenyans must not be misled into turning on each other by the atrocity of Al-Shabaab in Garissa. The slaughter of innocents at prayer in a church and the murder of policemen standing guard at the house of prayer is reason for Kenyans to defeat Al-Shabaab.
The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is defending Kenya against merchants of mayhem and murder and not Islam.
Third, Al-Shabaab has no regard for human life. Indeed, Al-Shabaab terrorists would embrace death in order to cause death and they kill innocents, including children, in total defiance of conventions that govern modern warfare.
Al-Shabaab knows neither local nor international law. Those who do not respect human life can never be friends of Kenyans.
Fourth, Al-Shabaab have made it plain that they are comrades-in-arms with Al-Qaeda which means that, as long as the militia operates to the north of the border, Kenya’s security will be in jeopardy.
As long as Kenya’s security is compromised, its economic growth will be reversed and what has been painstakingly built over the years reduced to ruins.
Fifth, Al-Shabaab’s reckoning is that if there is lawlessness and anarchy in Kenya as there has been in Somalia, it will be easy to set up camp in the country and invite their Al-Qaeda comrades-in-arms to join them.
For 20 odd years, thanks to militias like Al-Shabaab, survival in Somalia has been a daily miracle.
Sixth, it is bandit and piracy economies that have thrived under Al-Shabaab and assorted militias that have long held sway in Somalia.
Before them Somalia had plenty to boast about and to look forward to. Everything disappeared as they reduced the country to a wasteland. Weeks of post-election violence reduced Kenya’s 7 per cent growth to zero growth!
Seventh, Al-Shabaab is on its last legs as a force in Somalia. It has been to the south of the country where African Union Mission in Somalia and the Transitional Federal Government forces are closing in on its last bastion of Kismayu.
If it is routed in Somalia, it must not be given breathing space in Kenya. Indeed, its hirelings south of the border must be apprehended.
But how should Kenya go about defeating Al-Shabaab? Kenya needs all the intelligence it can gather about the gang.
Kenya’s security agents must cover the breadth and width of the country and beyond listening in on every conversation. Security agents must infiltrate Al-Shabaab cells. They must monitor every movement of every known Al-Shabaab operative.
Somebody is funding the militia; somebody is transporting its hirelings and recruits from one place to another; somebody ferries messages between one terror chief and another or from one cell to another.
These links must be found and cut off to isolate al-Shabaab operatives. When communication is disrupted, even momentarily, Al-Shabaab’s plans will go awry.
The Garissa massacre happened because security agents did not know about it. It happened despite the fact that there were armed policemen on guard at the church.
Indeed, the policemen were killed because they did not expect they would be attacked. Al-Shabaab has proudly owned the slaughter to send the message that it can strike at will.
But the massacre must be turned into a huge propaganda weapon against Al-Shabaab. Throughout Kenya and in the areas of Somalia which have been liberated from the militia, the message must be clear that Al-Shabaab is the enemy of humankind and not the saviour it purports to be. The evidence is clear, powerful and overwhelming.
War is expensive which is why there has been belt tightening in government since KDF went into Somalia last October.
War is expensive because young men and women die defending their country and war is expensive because its effects on an economy last for decades.
But this is the price Kenyans must pay to defeat Al-Shabaab because Al-Shabaab must be defeated.
Kwendo Opanga is a media consultant firstname.lastname@example.org