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Beware, Osama’s heirs are still as dangerous

Thursday May 19 2011

If anyone ever thought that the death of Osama bin Laden marked the end of al Qaeda, then recent reports of reorganisation in the terrorist organisation should serve as a warning.

The role of presiding over senseless death and destruction now appears to be in the hands of Saif al-Adel, the suspected mastermind of the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

It matters little that al-Adel is presumed to be only temporarily at the helm of the terror group, whose heir-apparent is Ayman al-Zawahri.

What is important is that al Qaeda, alongside groups that share its sinister ideology, remain active and pose a real threat.

That is why Kenya has no option but to intensify its surveillance and initiate multifaceted counter-terrorism strategies.

This should come as a matter of course for a country that has suffered deadly terrorist attacks, and which lives under the constant threat of Somalia’s extremist al Shabaab militia.


That al Shabaab and its affiliates have turned Kenya into an operational hub and rich recruitment ground has for long been a poorly kept secret, even before recent arrests of suspects at the Coast.

While the police and other security agencies must be commended for a job well done thus far, it is imperative to emphasise the need for integrated and sustained surveillance.

Such counter-terrorism efforts, we believe, can best be done by a single well-equipped agency with specially trained personnel.

This not only cuts off competing interests, but also ensures the effective use of intelligence.

Beyond that, the government must also make good use of “soft power” to dissuade sympathy towards extremism and address conditions like unemployment and poverty that encourage recruitment into terrorist rings.