On Security, Corruption and Terror Attacks

Posted by on 4th April 2014

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Shortly after the Westgate Attack, making the link between corruption and the increase in terrorism in the Guardian article ‘Kenya: behind the terror is rampant corruption,’ Giles Foden wrote:

 “In Kenya crime and terrorism are deeply linked, not least by the failure of successive Kenyan governments to control either….These attacks are part of a spectrum of banditry, with corruption at one end, terrorism at the other, and regular robbery in the middle. Some Kenyans will feel that the conditions in which the attacks have happened have arisen because of economic growth in a vacuum of governance. Money that should have been spent on security and other aspects of national infrastructure has been disappearing for generations.”

At the time, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed responded with an article of her own denying the link between corruption and the Westgate terror attack titled, ‘Kenya terror attack: corruption wasn’t to blame.’ With the recent terror attacks in Eastleigh the link between corruption and the country’s increased vulnerability to terrorism is one that needs to not only acknowledged but addressed as well.

In the very recent past the President in his State of the Nation address and in subsequent statements has echoed sentiments that appeared in the first Guardian article.

In his State of the Nation address the President while promising that his administration would make added investments in the security sector, the President urged Kenyans to remember that some of the difficulties experienced with were due to three decades of under investment. In another statement the President, highlighted corruption as a major barrier to the implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Law passed in 2012.

The link between corruption and the country’s susceptibility to is also recognised in the Parliamentary Report on the Inquiry into the Westgate and other attacks in Mandera in North Eastern and Kilifi in the Coastal Region. The report mentions systemic corruption and the link to terror attack stating:

“Corruption has greatly led to the vulnerability of the country in many cases including where immigration officials are compromised thus permitting ‘aliens’ who could be terrorists to enter the country and acquire identification. This enables terrorists ease of movement and are therefore able to plan and execute attacks without the fear of discovery. Further compromising of security officials enables ‘suspected individuals’ to fail to pursue suspected terrorists and enable them to secure early release when caught or reported in suspicious criminal activities.”

Of the link between Kenyan troops in Somalia and the increase in terror attacks in the country the report states, “It should also be interrogated why other countries such as Ethiopia and Burundi who had earlier sent troops to Somalia have not been attacked by the al-shaabab. Tanzania has also not suffered any terrorist attacks after the 1998 bombings. Is it because our security forces are weak, in-disciplined and easily corruptible?”

The report makes further note of nationwide systemic failure on the part of the Immigration Services Department, Department of Refugee Affairs; and Registration of Persons Department, also “rampant corruption by security officers and other government agents,” and  further that, “police officers are corrupt and lax too. They work in cahoots with alShabaab and are paid to pass information to the latter.”

Last week National Assembly rejected the Joint Committees report and the recommendations made therein. However questions and issues in the report raised with regards to the link between corruption and terrorism still remain.

In the face of security challenges reported over the past couple of weeks, what measures would you like the government to undertake to check corruption which opens doors to security lapses?

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