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To counter terrorism, tap into changing dynamics

Shadrack Agaki

The terrorist attack at DusitD2 hotel in Nairobi last week highlights some negative effects of globalisation, a phenomenon that presented new dynamics in the international relations. From the super-powers to the least developed nations, none is insulated from terrorism.

Chances are there are young men and women out there perusing massive literature on the internet on how to join terrorist groups.

Globalisation of terrorism is not expected to slow down, but that does not mean that governments are helpless in bid to wipe out violent extremism. However, it is imperative for nations to understand what motivates individuals join terrorist groups to inform formulation of strategies and frameworks to address the thorny issue.

Top on the list is radicalisation. Most extremist organisations and networks have flooded their agents on social media tools, where they use algorithms to determine venerable individuals who make for great recruitment target. Sadly, youth and women form part of these groups.

Marginalisation creates fertile environment for agents of terror to sow seeds of extremism by pretending to offer marginalised groups a “better option”.

With this knowledge, governments, especially in nations often targeted by terrorists, should develop clever strategies, including counter-terrorism narratives to hamper diffusion of extremist ideologies.

We also cannot rule out asymmetric warfare. Modern day terrorism is unconventional hence need for different strategies besides use of military and police alone. How about spreading counter-terrorism narratives using social media tools? Developing these strategies should never be a collaborative effort. With proper global coordination, better strategies would be achieved.

Another enabler of terrorism is corruption, which has played a major role in facilitating terror attacks especially in Kenya. From money hungry authorities at our porous borders to rogue immigration officers, there are loopholes that terrorists have used to enter the country and sneak in dangerous weapons.

Besides, corruption and bad governance weaken economies, leaving citizens languishing in poverty. When a majority of population are poor, the marginalisation breeds frustration and hopelessness. This leaves them vulnerable to radicalisation because terrorists come offering “hope”.

To end corruption, there is need for clear global governance structures to promote social accountability and transparency.

Strategic communication effort is required if we have to succeed in curbing terrorism. Sharing intelligence and strategies that have successfully worked in other economies would help nip terrorism in the bud.

Other multifaceted approaches are also critical. For instance, what is the role of women in fighting terrorism?  As Prof Maria Nzomo observed, “there is need for gender perspective to be introduced while analysing the threat of global terrorism.”

This is especially so given that women are increasingly playing critical roles in terrorism. Subsequently, previous biases should be discarded and new perspectives on women and youth in terrorism developed. The two groups’ are critical in the fight.

Finally, proper leadership is a critical factor if we are to succeed in the fight against terrorism. The need to have clear vision is important. As Theodore Roosevelt said, a leader who confines his role to his people’s experience dooms himself to stagnation; a leader who outstrips his people’s experience run the risk of not being understood. Indeed, this calls for innovation within the leadership realm.

We need to be conscious not to fall into the trap where we focus on traditional linear thinking become too absorbed by immediate concerns but at the end hinder us from thinking strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation presented by globalisation.

As we focus on the future, we must never forget to draw wisdom from past mistakes when dealing with the terrorism scourge. – The writer is a Master’s student at the University of Nairobi —