Who’s behind terror attacks against innocent Kenyans?

Saturday June 2 2012

 

By MAKAU MUTUA

The recent terror attacks on Kenya could be the tip of an iceberg. Methinks that very dark forces are at work. Some very bad people are trying to wreck Kenya.

Unless security is quickly restored, Kenya could become another African catastrophe.

Terrorists, drug cartels, criminal gangs, secessionists, rogue politicians, and merchants of impunity are tearing at Kenya’s fabric.

Mark my words. It’s not a long distance from here to Somalia, or the DRC.

Which begs the question – why does the Kenyan State appear to be asleep at the switch when the country is under attack?

Is it incompetence, complicity with the attackers, or State failure?

Let’s take a “deep dive”. I have three theories about who’s attacking Kenya.

States the world over rarely reveal grave security risks to the public. Even in more open democracies like the United States, secret services are ordinarily tight-lipped.

They may foil, or thwart, a terror attack. But you rarely hear about it unless someone is charged in open court, or a political decision is made to tell the public. This is as it should be.

Otherwise sources and methods of intelligence gathering could be compromised.

Equally worse, on-going investigations could be breached. That’s why states rarely reveal to the public even 10 per cent of what they know.

But in Kenya, one gets the impression the State doesn’t know much, or is either unable or unwilling, to act on what it knows to end terror attacks.

My first theory is that Al-Shabaab has been behind “only a few” of the terror attacks.

Some of these seem to have been by “freelance” amateur terrorists. By which I mean incompetent and misguided locals fired up by crude Taliban ideology.

Such attacks lack sophistication and careful planning. Their execution has been primitive. It’s clear that Al-Shabaab hasn’t carried out many serious attacks on Kenya.

They’ve tried, but haven’t been wildly successful. I suspect that Al-Shabaab will be quick to claim responsibility when – and if – it launches a spectacularly successful attack on Kenya.

That’s how terror works – the true terrorist is keen to claim credit for his handiwork. That’s why Al-Shabaab may not be behind many of the grenade attacks.

My second theory is based on deductive reasoning. This is investigation by elimination.

Since I have eliminated Al-Shabaab as the main source of Kenya’s security woes, I want to ask a central question. Who else would want to harm Kenya?

The Swahili have a saying – kikulacho ki nguoni mwako. The English equivalent is that “your enemies are among your friends”.

My theory here is that there is a criminal element embedded in the State.

It’s this element that appears to have been working in cahoots with the Artur brothers.

It seems to be involved in drug trafficking, extra-judicial killings, and grand corruption.

Which begs the question – why would this criminal element sponsor what appears to be terror attacks?

Criminality within the state thrives in a republic of fear. A panicked public is unable to hold the state accountable.

Public fear saps the energy of the citizenry and allows malignant and dark forces to loot the treasury and carry out all manner of illegalities.

Usually, elements of the police and other secret services participate in, and benefit from, the illicit activities of drug traffickers and high corruption.

Senior officials, politicians, and businesspeople use the police and the security services in protection rackets.

Seemingly random “terror” attacks could be the work of criminal elements within the state. This is one indicator of a “rotting state”.

Kenyans are right to ask whether such a Mafioso exists within the state.

My final theory is connected to the Kibaki succession politics. Everyone knows that Kenya is on edge.

I can’t remember such a period of political uncertainty in Kenya’s history.

Some of the leading presidential candidates have been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

It’s now a foregone conclusion that their trial at The Hague will begin in a matter of months.

Yet – incredibly – the suspects have insisted they’ll be on the ballot paper.

How they will defend themselves for the most serious crimes known to man and run for the presidency beats me. But one thing is clear.

Their supporters have vowed to lay waste to the electoral process if the suspects can’t run.

What am I getting at? Insecurity connected to the Kibaki succession and the ICC trials may be used as an excuse to scuttle the election.

A spike in violence could easily lead to the declaration of a state of emergency by the government.

Besides the ICC, there are other dark clouds overhead. Nascent secessionist movements like the so-called Mombasa Republican Council could heighten tensions.

Then there is the unresolved matter of the census in northern Kenya. How could a free and fair election be conducted without a legitimate headcount?

These volatile issues threaten to engulf the country. My suspicion is that the criminal element within the state is likely to add fuel to this fire.

What can be done to avoid these doomsday theories? I wish they were just theories, but I am afraid they might be real. If so, who’s watching over Kenya?

Does the state have the wherewithal to avoid a meltdown similar to the one in 2008?

Where, I ask, is President Mwai Kibaki in all of this? Is Mr Kibaki incapable of acting decisively?

If so, what role should the other arms of the state – the legislature and the upper echelons of the judiciary – play to restore sanity? We need all hands on deck.

Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC.