OPINIONPeople Daily

Graft, naivety exposing us to terror

We have been hit, yet again. It’s been five years since the last terrorist attack in Garissa University which claimed the crop of our youth.

But unlike previous occasions, we seem to have got our act together. We  moved with alacrity, and were able to scale down, and effectively diminish, the terror attack.

Terrorists strike when we least expect. Indeed, the DusitD2 Hotel attack in Nairobi’s upmarket 14 Riverside Drive was perfect timing. It happened as everyone was preoccupied with the December holiday hangovers, and trying to survive broke January. 

Terrorism is fast becoming the scourge of our time, at least in Kenya. Moreover, what is most scaring is the number of young men and women being recruited into Al Shabaab, the terrorist group operating from neighbouring Somalia.

We need to take an honest audit of why we have become Al Shabaab’s punching bag in the region. Let us first forget the stereotype of how our ideal geopolitical position for Western interests attracts this nefarious outfit for revenge.

Terrorists have managed to make us do what we keep denying. Amidst our chorus of ‘We Are One’ and ‘Kenya Unbowed’, after every attack, our society is full of insecurity.

The only places we do not frisk visitors, or strangers, are in our homes and roadside shops, respectively. A tyre blast in the middle of town makes everyone shudder with fear. The last thing you want to do is stand next to unaccompanied luggage.   

We must ask ourselves very tough questions. First, it involves disapproving the conspiracy theories that almost always accompany the blame game in the aftermath of an attack. Who knew what, and when, and why was no deterrent action taken?

It is hard to believe that of all the previously foiled attempts, our intelligence service and overall security network did not receive a credible threat targeting DusitD2 on their radar, which could have been ignored.

Secondly, who is the enemy within that facilitates the operations of the terror gangs? Of course, it has to do with a combination of our corrupt culture involving both State and non-State actors.

Sometimes the coincidences are too close. Like how the metal detectors at the ultramodern business complex stopped working prior to the attack. 

Thirdly, how come our antennae as citizens are not able to pick suspicious behaviour in our places of work or residence? For instance, waiters at DusitD2 claim the terror suspects were rowdy for the couple of months they patronised the hotel.

The crooks were testing the waters by gauging the level of alertness, suspicion or consciousness of their potential victims. It was a red flag that should have been reported to the authorities for investigations.

We cannot have our cake and eat it! We must decide whether we want to continue with our naïve hospitality, and cancerous corruption, or we want to live like the ever vigilant Israelis, who thrive surrounded by blood thirsty neighbours.

The buck now stops with Internal Security Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i, whose sternness should be put to good use in his current docket. Do all it takes Bwana CS for the sake of hapless Kenyans. —The writer is a communication expert and public policy analyst [email protected]

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