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UniversityattackbringsstarklessonsforKenya

EdwardWanyonyiisaSecurity,LeadershipandSociety
FellowatUniversityofLondonKingsCollege.
TherecentattackatGarissaUniversityinNorthEastern
KenyabyAlShabaabcameasasurprisetomany
Kenyansandtheworld.Launchedatthecrackofdawn
onThursdayApril2ndinGarissa,theattacklastedmore
than6hoursandinitswakeclaimedthelivesof147
students,facultyandsecuritypersonnelwhowere
deployedinthecounteroffensive.WhiletheKenyanauthoritiesconcentratedtheireffortsin
evacuatingtheinjured,andtherewasimprovedinteragencycooperationbetweenthevarious
armsofthesecurityservices,moreanger,helplessnessandapalpablesenseof
disillusionmentsweptacrossthecountry.
Thequestionis:howdidithappenandcanfutureattacksbestopped?
ThisisnotthefirstsuchattackbyAlShabaab.Indeedfrom2011whentheKenyaDefence
ForceslaunchedoperationLindaNchiinresponsetoaseriesofkidnappingsofaidworkers
andtouristsalongnorthernandcoastaltownsinKenya,therehavebeennowclosetoover
150attacksbyAlShabaabwithinKenyawithseverecasualties.
WhileNairobimaintainsthatitsforcesareinSomaliauntilAlShabaabisdefeated,itremains
unclearwhatactuallydefeatingentails,themeansemployed,theresourcesrequiredandthe
civilian,militaryanddiplomaticcapacitiesthatneedtobemobilisedtowardsthisend.
ItisthecontentionofthisarticlethattheGovernmentofKenyahasinvesteditsfocusonan
externalmilitaryoffensivewithinSomaliawhilelackingapragmaticcounterterrorism
strategythatwilloperationalisethisfightinthehomeland.IarguethatthecurrentAnti
TerrorismPoliceUnitisunderresourced,understaffed,poorlyequippedincombingthe
entirecountryand,worse,ledbyalowrankingofficerwhoisanswerabletotheDirectorof
operationsattheKenyaPoliceServiceHeadquarters.Heisnotdirectlyanswerabletothe
InspectorGeneralofPolicenorcanheevenaccessthePresident.
Furthermore,thecurrentcivilmilitaryteamaroundthePresidentiscausinghimtoloose
altitudeasitisenmeshedinagroupthinkpsychologythatexcludescriticalthinking.This
teamformedofpartysycophantsandkeyarchitectsofatribalhegemonyarebehindastring
ofpleasantbriefingsthatplacatethePresidentwithanalliswellnarrative.Theyare
obsessedaboutregimepreservation,lockingoutothertribesfromcoresectorsofthe
economyandshapingsuccessionpoliticswhileleavingtheflanksopenforterrortothrive,
causingthePresidenttoloosealtitude.
Moreover,therecentpurchaseofarmsworthUSD2.9billionfromSerbiaindicatesemphasis
oninfantryoffensivewithinSomaliabutwhatisgreatlyneededareteamsofpersonnel

mobileandhighlytrainedinspecialoperationsmissionsthatcanbedeployedacrossthe
countryandanywhereASsupporters,funders,sympathisersarefound.
SuchastrategycallsforthePresidenttoinstitutesweepingchanges.Keywillbeestablishing
anewcounterterrorismoperationalcommandcentreasacentralisedunitdirectingaction,
legislation,resources,localandinternationalsupportnecessaryinthewaragainstAl
Shabaab.ThisshouldproduceaHomelandPreparednessactionplanthatwillarticulate
clearlywhatitwilltaketoeliminateifnotreducetheAlShabaabterrorcapacity.Thisshould
befollowedwithafullscalereorganisationofthesecurityagenciestodetribalisethecurrent
upperechelonswithinhandlingcoordinatingsecurity,economicanddiplomaticdutieswithin
theofficeofthePresident,MinistryofInteriorandCoordinationofGovernment,Cabinet
officeandMinistryofforeignaffairs.
TheincursionofKenyaDefenceForcesintoSomaliain2011wasprecededbyaseriesof
highlevelwarpreparation.Cruciallymissinginthisarrangementweretwoelements.First,a
criticalanalysisofthecapacityoftheAlShabaabtoholdoutandlaunchasuccessfulurban
insurgencyinsideKenyaoftenescapingthesceneofcrime.Inmostattacksattackershadall
theluxuryoftimetoexecuteterrorwithoftenlittlecounterattacksfromlocalsecurityforces.
ThisgoestoprovetheintelligencecapabilityandoperationalplanningefficiencyofAl
Shabaabinnotonlyconductingreconnaissancetoestablishthebesttimeandtargetofattack
butalsoagetawayplanfromthescene.
Thisisevidentfromthe2013WestgateShoppingMallattackthathadover70causalities,the
2014attacksinMpeketoniandPoromokovillagesinLamuCountythatclaimedover65
lives,thecoldbloodexecutionof15quarryworkersinManderacountryandtheexecutionof
closeto28passengersonabusfromGarissaCounty.
Secondly,AlShabaabhaveproventhattheyarenolongerateamofyoungboysrunning
aroundwithKalashnikovsfollowinginstructionsfromaradicalcleric.Thisisnowawell
trainedparamilitaryforcethatistakingmoreSpecialForcesmissionswiththerightartillery,
formationntacticalfinesse.
AlShabaabisnotjustaKenyanproblem,ofcourse.KenyaisalreadypartoftheAfrican
UnionMissioninSomalia(AMISOM)thathasmadequiteimpressiveeffortstoliberateparts
ofSomaliaandsupportthegovernmentinMogadishu.Kenyaisalsoakeyallyintheglobal
waragainstterrorandhasbeensupportiveofUScounterterrorismeffortswithintheregion.
ButwhatismissingnowisaninternationalmobilisationagainstAlShabaabthesamewayAl
QaedaandISISarebeingbattledonallsidesbytheglobalcommunity.
AtwoprongedapproachmightbeessentialindefeatingAlShabaabattheinternational
arena.FirstandofcrucialimportancetoKenyaistheneedforWesternalliestojoinan
internationalcontactgroupforSomaliawiththemainobjectivebeingdefeatingAlShabaab.
Inthisregard,AMISOMshouldbestrategicallyenabledwithcapacitysuchaswhatthe
InternationalStabilisationAssistanceForceinAfghanistanpossessed.

Secondly,theSomaliaGovernmentshouldexpeditenationalreconstructiontoensurethat
basicservicesareavailabletocitizensinordertoweakentheappealofjihadismwhichtakes
advantageofaweakandabsentstateauthority.
PresidentUhuruKenyattaisreadytodowhatittakestoaddressthiscrisisandincreasingly
hehasshownhissincerityandcommitmenttothesafetyofeveryKenyan.Kenyaisnota
failedstatebutthehaphazardandchaotickneejerkreactionseverytimeanattacktakesplace
onlyemboldensAlShabaabandsustainsaclimateoffear.
ProjectfortheStudyofthe21stCenturyisanonnational,nonpartisan,nonideological
organization.Allviewsexpressedaretheauthorsown.