Saturday, 9 July 2016

Photo: Changing trends of extremism and radicalization in Kenya today By ALPHONCE GARI

Those who crossed over to Somalia found themselves in terrific situation as they came face to face with the reality- being forced undergo military training to fight the so-called holy war.

Radicalisation has done more harm than good to Kenyan youths particularly in the Kenyan Coast.
For years since radicalization, violent extremism started leading youths to join militia and terror organizations, the Coast region has been among the areas highly affected.
It was assumed by many especially in the security sector that the indoctrination and recruitment to join Somalia based al-Shabaab was done in religious intuitions. Even though that has some elements of truth based on evidences what happened in few mosques in Mombasa, the reality on the hand was that many youth were usually joining terror groups after being promised good jobs and huge salaries.

Those who crossed over to Somalia found themselves in terrific situation as they came face to face with the reality- being forced undergo military training to fight the so-called holy war.
Reports show that there were those who went there voluntarily to undergo the militia training due to frustrations back in their home country.
Those who were recruited without their knowledge would not be allowed to return home and were forcefully taken through terrorism training to fight the “jihad”.

However,since the terror group’s recruitment tactics were discovered they have come with new ways of recruiting people to their merciless organization.
Due to security reasons and the intelligence networks intensified by the government in the coastal region and other places in the country, the extremist groups have moved away to areas, which have very little attention.
Their networks now target areas where their activities are less suspected to recruit unsuspecting youths who are jobless to work for them.

Researches done by organizations involved in countering violent extremism indicatethere is very little religiosity on the activities of those involved in the terror organizations as some key individuals associated with the violent extremists network were recently arrested in social joint taking beer.
Other recruiting agents have extended to other regions in the country to get unsuspecting youths in dire need of jobs.

Also common nowadays is the use of technology to call for applications that seek young energetic youths to work in their company and those who go through end up in the ruthless hands of the extremists.
Hassan Ole Naado the SUPKEM deputy Secretary general says violent extremists networks found that it was not wise for them to concentrate on majority ‘Muslims’ areas.
This is why they are enlisting the “soft target groups” including street children to facilitate their missions.

Naado who has done extensive work on countering violent extremism programming and have contributed in several researcheson radicalization and returnees question in Kenya says those groups targeted are usually those who can easily buy the compelling narrative of violent extremists.
“Some of the youths were promised good jobs, only to find themselves in terror groups,’’ he says.

Naado believes that there is need to create forum for communities to engage in the conversations on countering violent extremism and develop relevant strategies that speak to their context.
To him violent extremism is not like normal crime as it has an element of social problem, which must be dealt with by communities before it graduates to terrorism.
“There is need to engage the community to counter the problem before members join the terrornetworks,’’ he says.
To help in counter terrorism and violent extremism Naado says preachers, community based organization, village elders and family members must be involved.
He says there is need to watch the character of young men,women, and children who converted to join the violent extremist networks.

“There should also be a good working relationship with the security agencies. The police in particular must create an enabling environment for communities to engage them and benefit through human intelligence necessary for such a complex undertaking presented by terrorism,” he adds.
On the same note, he says police welfare is paramount to motivate the officers and to feel appreciated. First he says security agents need to get all the necessary equipment and resources for them to be happy with their families such as the insurance cover, medical scheme, and good working environment.

“As we think of how to improve the country’s policing regime, welfare of the officers has to be at the center- the government should concentrate not only in modernizing equipment but also the general welfare of the officers is paramount”, he says. “An hungry, angry and armed individuals cannot be entrusted with the security of a country”, Ole Naado said.
Violent extremism according to the SUPKEM deputy secretary general is not a Kenyan problem but global phenomena.

“The East and northern Africa are at risk as no country is better than the other,” says Naado.
He says Kenya was better off because they appreciate and struggle with the terrorism threat.
“In Kenya it is not only one community that is targeted to join the terror gangs but all the 43 tribes are part of it or contribute to it,’’ he says.
Currently he says the Western, Nyanza , Rift valley and central regions in Kenya are at high risk of joining the networks than the Coast and North eastern region which were previously soft spots .
“Those involved in recruitment exercise are intelligent, they have networks globally and are Communicating each day,’’ he says.

In order to encourage self regulation, SUPKEM is supporting other organizations dealing with educational matters such Muslim Education Council to come with a unified Madrassah Curriculum aimed at standardizing madrassah education in the country. This will help in taming the “quacks” that are not qualified to teach and have taken the advantage of lack of standardized system of education with checks and balances.
The standardized curriculum will help in demystifying the fear that Madrassas are breeding areas for radicalization.

Naado says ones the curriculum is in places, qualified Muslim scholars will tasked to carryout quality assurance and monitor the delivery standards.
Naado believes they are in the right direction of standardizing the madrassas so that all lessons taught are similar to help whoever interested in monitoring what education is offered in the religious institutions.
For now he says people there is need for the institution of the Madrassah like any other learning center to appreciate the emergence of cross cutting issues such as the HIV/AIDS, environment, global warming and violent extremism shall have to be added to the curriculum.
“We should start engaging the youths at an early level madrassa level,’’ he says.

All the Terror gangs like Mungiki, Sabaot Lands Defence force, and many others first create fear and intimidation in order to push for their ideologies.
On the financiers he says some individual fund organizations because of fear, they usually receive threats and warnings from the terror gangs that if they do not finance them something bad will happen to them.
For example he says Mungiki mapped areas in Nairobi city where they charged rates of Minimum of Sh. 100, S. 200 to Sh. 1000.
“Big institutions, organizations do business with terror networks that’s where they generate a lot of revenue,’’ he says.

Naado says terror organization like other underworld establishments raise funds through drug trafficking, piracy, kidnappings where they call ransoms and get huge sums of money.
On technology in recruitment he says the groups have also gone on line and now use social groups like face book WhatsUp among others to recruit soft targets.
In the new system, which is becoming popular such organizations they use referrals for job promising people heaven in the recruitment.

He believes that not all terrorists were recruited because of religion since some are politically recruited to join radical groups specifically to work on assignments.
Some of those recruited and returned home safely have tales and term their experience as worse while working under terror groups.
Records show that there are many Kenyans who returned from Somalia after joining al-Shabaab.
One county at the Coast he says in their research recorded the highest number of returnees with a rough figure of more than 700 who had joined violent extremism groups in Somalia.

A socio economic and demographic survey of Kenyan returnees conducted by SUPKEM, Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Interior and Coordination
of National Government and the International organization for Migration done in 2014 done in the coastal region revealed there were over 700 returnees from Somalia.
In the report concerns have been raised about those returnees who returned to the country after joining militant groups on whether they would be safe and how they will easily reintegrate into the Kenyan society.
In the 2014 report majority of those returnees interviewed claimed they joined voluntarily

It was revealed that 92 percent of those who joined the militant gangs did it voluntarily while the rest were forced.
The report recommended for programs to be initiated by stakeholders to address the security concerns of the returnees.
To achieve these it was suggested that there be dialogue to improve relations between the returnees and the government of Kenya.

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