Police reports indicate a suspect arrested in Isiolo in connection with the DusitD2 hotel attack had lived in Mogotio, Baringo county for months. Detectives say the suspect operated a barbershop and interacted little with residents.
The revelation, compounded by an incident in which a Nairobi cart-puller and another person sustained injuries after a package he was ferrying exploded on Saturday, underpins the need for vigilance among Kenyans.
Terrorists have adopted new tactics. The suspect’s presence in such a remote place as Mogotio should get our crime-busters reworking their strategies in the fight against terrorism.
But the discovery of such a character in the depths of the villages may be a pointer that al Shabaab sleeper cells may not be where they are traditionally expected them to be. This necessitates new thinking and fresh approaches, starting with intelligence gathering.
The fact that residents noted his strange behaviour but did not blow the whistle is a worrying indicator of our collective lethargy in reporting such matters to police. Perhaps, even a word to the chief may have helped cut short the suspect’s plans and by extension foil the attack that claimed 21 lives.
Kenyans must remain alive to their surroundings.
Indeed, part of the fight against terrorism must start at the courts, as head of Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti notes. Terror suspects should not be considered for bail or bond, and should be remanded until prosecution is concluded. The right to bail should not be at the expense of public peace.
Further, any place identified as a bastion of terrorism or harbours, conceals or facilitates terror activities should be mapped in the interest of national security. We agree with Kinoti this should apply, be it a residence, business premises, stores, matatus that ply that route and full particulars and evidence of original identification.
Those who claim to do business should show evidence of such and those working should show workstations and employer. This will shield innocent wananchi from falling prey to agents of terror without knowledge, and assist security corps deal more easily with emerging threats.
The fight against terror needs a concerted approach, with every person playing a pro-active part to keep evil away.