The terrorist attack on 14 Riverside Drive in Nairobi last week should be a wake-up call for the government and Kenyans to see the broader perspective of how and why terrorism is evolving into a homegrown problem.
The biggest threats of terrorism come from within, rather than across the Somalia border. These are linked to two problems.
The first one is corruption, which potentially increases the flow of illicit money that can be used to fuel terrorist activities and weaken state institutions charged with fighting terrorism.
The second is the increasing unemployment of an educated, intelligent and energetic youth class that is disenfranchised by lack of jobs and economic opportunities.
Gangs and terrorist groups exploit the desperation to lure youth into drugs and insurgence networks.
Rampant corruption and money laundering breed opportunities for terrorism financing.
That link is documented in global studies by respected international agencies — including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, International Monetary Fund, Financial Action Task Force and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
According to OECD, endemic corruption makes a country vulnerable to terrorism.
The IMF is more concerned about the consequences of money laundering, terrorism financing and other crimes on the stability of the financial system and the economy.
Transparency International also reports that countries where corruption is rife have problems with security and terrorism.
In a report linking terrorism to corruption, TI observes that citizens get angry when they see leaders amassing wealth through corruption while governments fail to deliver services to the people.
Circumstantial evidence from many countries links corrupt politicians and public officials to financing of local militants and terrorist groups.
The gangs for hire are used to settle high-stakes political scores or business rivalry, particularly where the justice system is corrupted and cannot be trusted to resolve disputes.
Breaking the chains of corruption and terrorism requires just more good laws and institutions.
The officials, systems and institutions mandated to fight organised crime and terrorism must demonstrate greater resolve to achieve results.
Deeper cooperation between anti-corruption agencies, the Judiciary, National Counter-Terrorism Centre, Central Bank and Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) is needed to identify and cripple the sources of terrorism funds.
The new Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission bosses need to hit the ground running.
The CBK and FRC should protect Kenya’s rapidly growing financial sector from becoming a conduit for money laundering and terrorism financing.
The FRC should build foolproof evidence of suspicious financial transactions for the Director of Public Prosecution and Director of Criminal Investigations to secure convictions of terror financiers and recovery of proceeds of crime.
The government should also embark on a structured national campaign to protect the youth from being drafted into terrorism and organised crime.
Prevention would be a more effective strategy than reacting after the youth have been radicalised and used by terrorist gangs to fight their motherland.
The strategy should involve fighting corruption in public procurement that curtails opportunities for youth to supply goods and services to government agencies.
It should strengthen the payment system to ensure that suppliers to the national and county governments are paid in time.
Moreover, the government should fix the breakdown in delivery of public services.
The failure of the national and county authorities to meet the expectations of the people while their leaders wallow in taxpayer-funded extravagance, increases inequality and disaffection.
Political, economic and social inclusion should be the magic bullet for fighting terrorism.
The government should fulfil its covenant with the people by sharing the national cake more equitably and demonstrate greater passion in fighting corruption.
Mr Warutere is a director of Mashariki Communications Ltd. [email protected]