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Assessing the vulnerability of Kenyan youths to radicalisation and extremism

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Abstract and Figures

Following the intervention of the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia in October 2011 in reaction to the increase in kidnappings on the Kenyan coast, the threat of terrorism in Kenya increased considerably. Initially the perception was that the threat originated from Somalia and that Somali nationals or Somali-Kenyans consequently committed attacks in Kenya. As arrests were made, Kenya was confronted with the reality that Kenyan nationals were responsible for the majority of these attacks. This sparked introspection and the need to understand where this threat originated. This paper aims to provide an overview of the threat of terrorism in Kenya; to consider the drivers of radicalisation, especially among the youth; and to propose counter-strategies that policymakers and security officials might adopt to prevent and counter radicalisation.
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1Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
Institute for Security Studies
That there is an emerging trend of religious radicalisation in
East Africa is not in doubt. Somalia, which has experienced
various forms of conflict since 1991, has often been seen
as the source of extremism in the region, especially
following the attacks on the United States (US) embassies
in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi on 7 August 1998. Yet closer
investigation reveals that Somali nationals were not behind
most of the incidents outside Somalia’s borders. Somalia
provides a safe haven, training camps and opportunities for
extremists to fight the ‘enemies of Islam’, but al-Qaeda and
later al-Shabaab have executed attacks in the region by
relying on local assistance and support. At the same time,
al-Shabaab managed to recruit Kenyan, Ugandan and
Tanzanian nationals to its ranks in Somalia. The central
question that this paper hopes to answer is: what makes
people – most often young people – susceptible to
extremists’ jihadi ideology?
Instead of presenting Somalia as the root cause of all
regional problems, the focus will rather be on the domestic
conditions that those behind radicalisation exploit to recruit
their followers. This discussion is especially relevant in light
of the growing pressure al-Shabaab faces in Somalia
following the recent successes of the Transitional Federal
Government ( TFG), the African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM) and other forces. If Somalia is effectively no
longer a terrorist haven, then the countries in the region
from which many of these foreign fighters came (e.g.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) might experience growing
threats to their own security.
Of the three countries mentioned above, Kenya has
experienced the most attacks within its borders. The
country is also central to the region and thus deser ves
closer scrutiny. Although Kenya’s intervention in Somalia
served to incite a terrorist response, the experience of
Uganda, Ethiopia and Burundi, all of which have had troops
in Somalia since 2006, showed dif ferent trends. Only the
attacks in Uganda and Kenya were attributed to those
countries’ interventions in Somalia. And, despite the fact
that those directly involved in these attacks were Ugandan
nationals, Kenyans and Tanzanians helped plan and
execute the attacks, not members of traditional
This is not to say that individuals within the traditional
Muslim community have not used frustrations and
vulnerabilities among the youth – Muslim and non-Muslim
– to recruit foot soldiers, which raises the question: what is
the source of the radicalisation that is driving many young
people, especially in Kenya, to join extremist groups?
Toanswer this question, the paper discusses:
The origins of extremist interpretations of Islam and the
turn to violence of extremist Islamists.
The history of Islam in Kenya and the region.
Early terrorist attacks in Kenya.
Kenyans’ involvement in the bombings in Kampala
on 11July 2010 and their joining of al-Shabaab in
Somalia; and attacks following Kenya’s intervention
in Somalia.
The role of vulnerable youths, specifically the
involvement of Kenyans and newly converted Kenyans
in previous attacks, focusing on the role of the Muslim
Youth Centre.
Drivers of radicalisation in Kenya.
Strategies to prevent and counter radicalisation.
Assessing the vulnerability of Kenyan
youths to radicalisation and extremism
ISS paper 245 • aprIl 2013
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm2
While acknowledging that extremists do not represent
Islam and Muslims, an important question is: where does
the extremist interpretation of Islam originate? Hassan Ole
Naado of the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance provided the
explanation that follows below.1
The Shafi’i school within Sunni Islam (the other three
schools are Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali) remained dominant
in East Africa until 1979, when a significant event occurred
in the Muslim world: the revolution that overthrew the Shah
of Iran and the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Following the political, diplomatic and ideological
altercations that the leaders of the Islamic Revolution
started having with Western powers, especially the US
(which had supported the Shah), Western powers sought
to contain the influence of the Islamic government of Iran,
which was sending shockwaves and inspiring Islamic
theocracy across the Muslim world. The Iranian revolution
was based on Shia ideology – a system queried by
Nationals of both Kenya and
Tanzania were involved in
Africa's first suicide attacks
in Nairobi and Dar es
Salaam on 7 August 1998
In a move to counter Iran’s influence, Western powers
approached Saudi Arabia, empowered it and projected it
as the custodian of the Islamic faith worldwide. But since
Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni, the majority of whom
subscribe to the Hanbali school of Islamic thought, the
result of the strategy to use Saudi Arabia as a
counterweight to Iran was to bring Sunni and Shia Islam
into even more intense conflict, resulting in a hardening of
attitudes on both sides. This ‘competition’ between Sunni
Islam, represented by Saudi Arabia, and Shia Islam,
signified by Iran, did not remain in the Middle East, but
extended beyond this region to Africa, including the Horn
of Africa. This led to extreme positions and initiatives on
both sides to spread their influence.
One of these initiatives was to award scholarships to
young Kenyan Muslims to study in Saudi Arabia and other
Middle Eastern countries. Therefore, in the process of
empowering Saudi Arabia as a counterweight to Iran, many
young Muslims from across the world started travelling to
Saudi Arabia in the 1980s for advanced religious studies
and returning to their countries to teach in Islamic schools
(madrassas). Also, Muslim scholars from Saudi Arabia and
other South Asian countries immigrated to Kenya where
they introduced new forms of Islamic practices, in contrast
to the traditional Shafi’i practices that had been the
dominant school of thought in East Africa and the Horn of
Africa. Consequently, ‘extremism’ emerged in the region as
a result of the influence of another school of thought
– Hanbali, closest associated with Wahhabi Islam – that
gained entr y into the region.
In addition to religious developments in the region,
another event indirectly contributed to the spread of
extremism in Kenya: the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in
the 1980s, which led to the later emergence of Osama bin
Laden and al-Qaeda and its influence in the broader
region. Bin Laden’s influence in the Horn of Africa
manifested in the US Embassy bombings in 1998, which
will be discussed later in the paper. Being able to defeat
the Soviet Union, one of the two superpowers at that
stage, in Afghanistan returned Muslim pride following the
fall of the Ottoman Empire. Violent opposition to the
Russians turned into violent opposition to anyone who
dared to interfere in Muslim affairs. This opposition was
transferred to the West due to the latter’s support of
dictators such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the Shah of
Iran, its suppor t for Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
and the West’s general dominance over, interference in
and (in the eyes of bin Laden and many other Muslims)
contempt for the Muslim world. This was exacerbated by
the Saudi invitation to the West, and the US in particular, to
send troops to Saudi Arabia to drive the Iraqis out of
Kuwait in 1991, which bin Laden saw as a defilement of
holy Islamic territory by infidels (Mecca, the holiest of
Islamic sites, is in Saudi Arabia). The al-Qaeda attacks on
the US on 11 September 2001 followed, while the Western
invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 made the
situation much worse, as did the war on terror, which is
often seen by Muslims as being specifically anti-Muslim,
not broadly anti-terror.
Islam in Kenya
Because of its contact with ideas from various parts of the
Muslim world, the Muslim community in Kenya is under the
influence of various schools of Islamic thought – Shafi’i,
Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi and even Shia.
Kenya is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multicultural
society that is predominantly African in character. The
Muslim community – roughly 30 per cent of the population
– is drawn from the whole spectrum of Kenyan society and,
like the rest of that society, the larger part of the Muslim
population is young: 65 per cent of its members are
between the ages of 18 and 35. About 30 per cent of
Kenya’s Muslims are of Somali origin but born in Kenya
3Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
(Kenyan-Somalis), and another 10 per cent are of Borana
ethnicity residing in the regions bordering Ethiopia. The
remainder constitute Muslim minorities living in Christian-
dominated regions.2
Kenyan Somalis are found in the north-eastern parts of
Kenya bordering on Somalia and another large group is
found in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, which also hosts
alarge population of Somalis who sought refuge in Kenya
from the civil strife that erupted after the 1991 collapse of
the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre. There is another very
important Muslim settlement in Kenya – the coastal region,
which hosts about 30 per cent of the Kenyan Muslim
population, is considered the ‘gateway’ between the
Islamic faith in the Arab world and the Islamic faith in Kenya
and the entire East and Central African region, and links
Muslims in these regions to a rich Islamic heritage that
spans centuries.
For decades the traditional Islamic centres along the
East African coast have produced Muslim scholars who
have been instrumental in spreading Islam to the interior
of Kenya and other parts of the East African hinterland.
And for all the years that Islam has existed in these
regions, the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam has been the
dominant creed. But, as explained above, immigrants
from South-East Asia and students who went to study in
Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries have slowly
but steadily introduced other forms of Islamic practice
and thinking.
With these new interactions, a kind of Islamic
revivalism was set off in many parts of the Islamic world
as Muslims, especially Sunnis, started experimenting
with and comparing different schools of thought.
Although the revivalism was characterised by protracted
and often violent forms of resurgence in many majority-
Muslim countries, the Muslim community in Kenya and
the East African region was initially characterised by
gradual but peaceful attempts to participate in
mainstream political processes. However, the growing
tide of violent Muslim extremism increasingly led to
Kenyan nationals turning to violence to achieve their
political and religious aims.
Kenya and Tanzania, August 1998
The first suicide attacks in Africa occurred on 7 August
1998, when suicide bombers almost simultaneously
detonated two truck bombs outside the US embassies in
Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As a result,
224 people were killed and about 5 000 injured.
Although a number of political officials in Kenya and
Tanzania claimed that their countries were completely
innocent and had merely been used as sites to target the
US and its interests, nationals of both countries were
involved in the attacks. This involvement of nationals
suggests that there may have been some element of failure
by both the Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities that had
motivated these suicide attacks, not least because the
attacks resulted in the death and injury of the attackers’
fellow countrymen. Most notable here were those attackers
included in the US indictment of bin Laden issued on
6November 1998:3
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a Kenyan national, who
had travelled in and out of Kenya, most significantly to
and from neighbouring Sudan, since the early 1990s
while bin Laden was based there. Mohammed came
tobe recognised as the leader of al-Qaeda’s East
Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam, a Kenyan national,
whopurchased the vehicle used by the Tanzanian cell
together with Khalfan Khamis Mohamed (see below)
and helped to load the truck with the bomb used to
attack the US embassy in Tanzania. Msalam, together
with Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, another Kenyan
national, also purchased the truck used to bomb the
Kenyan embassy. According to his uncle, Msalam
became ver y religious af ter spending time in Yemen
Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, a Kenyan who grew up
inMombasa, attended a terrorist training camp in
Afghanistan after dropping out of school. Swedan
assisted in the purchase of the trucks used to carry out
both attacks.
Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, a Palestinian who had
been granted Kenyan citizenship and settled in Witu,
near Malindi, Kenya where he ran a carpentry
business.4 Using the two trucks purchased by Swedan
and Msalam, Odeh oversaw the construction of both
Khalfan Khamis Mohamed and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani,
Tanzanian nationals. Mohamed assembled the bomb
used against the US embassy in Dar es Salaam while
Ghailani, a suspected explosives expert, was
responsible for obtaining the bomb’s components.
Healso rented a room at the Hilltop Hotel in Dar es
Salaam where those involved in the plot met.
Foreign involvement
In addition to the involvement of nationals in the planning
and execution of the attacks, the terrorist cell responsible
also contained foreigners, most notably:6
Wahid el-Hage (a Lebanese), who served as bin Laden’s
personal secretary and had moved to Kenya in 1994 to
assist in the running of the Kenyan cell.
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm4
Anas al-Liby (a Libyan), who conducted surveillance
ofpotential US, British, French and Israeli targets in
Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil (an Egyptian), who was
accused of preparing and loading the TNT plus other
explosives into the truck used in the attack in Tanzania.
Significantly, the actual suicide bombers were neither
Kenyan nor Tanzanian nationals:
The Nairobi bombing was carried out by two Saudi
nationals: Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, who
threw stun grenades at embassy guards before running
off, and another, only referred to as ‘Azzam’, who was
the suicide bomber.
In the case of the Dar es Salaam bombing, an Egyptian
national, Hamden Khalif Allah Awad, was the suicide
Despite the involvement of Kenyan and Tanzanian nationals
in facilitating and planning the attacks, the fact that they
were ultimately carried out by foreigners may – at least to
acertain degree – indicate the level of African nationals’
commitment to what was then a new ‘cause’ – al-Qaeda.
At the time of these attacks African nationals were possibly
not yet ready to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
Incontrast, a possible explanation for utilising suicide
bombers from Saudi Arabia and Egypt might be the fact
that both countries had been subjected to Islamist
extremism and the ideologies of al-Qaeda for a longer
period of time, with the consequence that more individuals
were already familiar with and convinced by the concept of
martyrdom than was the case on the African continent at
the time of the 1998 attacks.
Embedding terrorist organisations within the
local context
Those planning terror attacks use local vulnerabilities and
circumstances to their advantage. In relation to the Nairobi
attack, this is clearly illustrated by the prior activities of
al-Qaeda, which gradually extended its reach within the
Horn of Africa from the early 1990s. Initially, Sudan hosted
bin Laden between 1991 and 1996, before he returned to
Afghanistan, which provided him with an invaluable
opportunity to exploit the crisis and instability in Somalia
(from 1991 onwards) to establish al-Qaeda’s East African
cell, which allowed al-Qaeda to operate in Nairobi from at
least 1993 and in Mombasa from 1994. In order to embed
itself in Kenya, al-Qaeda undertook a number of
It established safe houses for its members and
sympathisers who were passing through the region.
This facilitated not only illegal cross-border movement
within the region, but meant that Kenya also served as a
gateway for terrorist actors to the Gulf, theMiddle East
and South Asia.
It opened various small businesses and relief
organisations to subsidise and conceal its activities.
Forexample, in 1993 Khalid al-Fawwaz, who would later
become a spokesperson for bin Laden in Britain, started
a business in Nairobi called Asma Limited that was later
transferred to Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, one of al-
Qaeda’s military commanders. Another operative, Wadih
El-Hage, similarly established a business called
Tanzanite King and a relief organisation called Help
African People. In August 1994 Mohammed Saddiq
Odeh, a Jordanian member of al-Qaeda who had been
trained in the camps in Afghanistan, arrived in
Mombasa. During the same year Muhammad Atef, who
would be killed during the US bombing of Afghanistan in
November 2001, visited Odeh in Mombasa and gave
him a boat to start a wholesale fishing business for
al-Qaeda. Under the arrangement, Odeh could take
whatever money he needed to cover his expenses and
give the rest to al-Qaeda. In this way al-Qaeda
operatives integrated themselves into the local
community without arousing undue suspicion.
Al-Qaeda operatives not only lived among Kenya’s
Muslim population, but also married into the local
community. By becoming an integral part of society
foreigners were able to identify and use local people to
strengthen their cover.
Al-Qaeda operatives in Kenya helped to train fighters,
including those who attacked US troops in Somalia in
1993. It would appear that this might have occurred with
the full knowledge of US officials, according to a letter
written by amember of al-Qaeda’s Kenyan cell, that
warned that they suspected that US officials were aware
of their activities.
Vulnerability to terrorist activities
The vulnerability of both Tanzania and Kenya to terrorist
activities was also an important factor, not least in terms of
permitting a terrorist organisation such as al-Qaeda to
become embedded in their societies. In the case of Kenya,
there were a number of especially notable factors:
The ability of al-Qaeda members to settle in the region
and evade capture made terrorist operations easier. It is
noteworthy that prior to the 1998 bombings al-Qaeda
had already been established in East Africa, including
Kenya, for over six years, allowing it to assimilate
important local and regional knowledge, which enabled
it to operate effectively and with relative ease.8
The porous border between Kenya and Somalia
enabled both the movement of al-Qaeda operatives and
the smuggling of weapons from Somalia into Kenya,
5Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
further assisted by the fact that many al-Qaeda
associates who operated in Somalia in 1993 and later in
Kenya knew one another from Afghan training camps.
Consequently, according to United Nations (UN)
investigators who were monitoring the arms embargo on
Sudan, 17 mobile training centres were found in Kenya
in 2005 under the control of organisers who were
believed to be veterans of training camps in
Afghanistan.9 Furthermore, it would also appear that
terrorist units established bases in Lamu and Ras
Kiamboni, along the Kenyan–Somali border, in 1996.
Although these units became inactive immediately after
the 1998 bombings, the members of other terrorist
organisations, most notably al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and
al-Takfir w'al Hijra, similarly have established sanctuaries
along the Kenyan coastal strip and within Kenya’s North
Eastern Province.10
Poor socioeconomic conditions played a major part.
One example is the Kenyan village of Siyu on Pate
Island. Its population of approximately 1 500 people is
extremely poor and without basic necessities, such as
running water. Consequently, this close-knit Islamic
community welcomed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the
leader of al-Qaeda’s East African cell, as both a Muslim
and a generous provider of money who brought some
relief to their dire economic conditions. These
credentials and activities enabled him, and others like
him, to further embed himself within local society.
Mohammed was not the only terror suspect who lived
inthe area; others included:
Mohammed Odeh, who married a Swahili woman
from the remote Witu village along the Mombasa–
Malindi highway
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who married Fatma Ahmed
Talo, a young woman from Lamu town
Abdullah Mohammed, who married Amina
Mohammed Kubwa from Siyu village.
Mombasa, 28 November 2002
On 28 November 2002 two suicide bombers targeted the
Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. On the
day of the attack one of the suicide bombers, who was
also armed with an assault rifle and a Tokarev pistol, blew
himself up at the hotel’s entrance. The second suicide
bomber drove a vehicle purchased by Saleh Ali Nabhan
loaded with 200 kg of explosives, enhanced by gas
canisters and containers of fuel, into a wall of the hotel. The
vehicle exploded instantly. The attacks killed 13 tourists,
two of them children, and injured more than 80 people. In
another attack, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Issa Osman
Issa attempted to shoot down a commercial aircraft with a
surface-to-air missile. In contrast to the 1998 attacks in
Kenya, which targeted the US, on this occasion Israel, its
nationals and its interests were the objects of attack. The
same East African cell that was responsible for planning
and executing the attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in
1998 was responsible for this attack.
It would appear that this cell had split into at least two
groups before the 1998 attack: one to conduct intelligence
work, including surveillance of intended targets in order to
determine any weaknesses, buy supplies, etc.; and the other
comprising expendable martyrs to carry out the attacks.
In December 2001 reconnaissance of potential targets
in Kenya began and by April 2002 a shortlist had been
drawn up. It would appear that al-Qaeda members
planned the attack from neighbouring Somalia. When
preparations were complete, those directly involved in the
attack relocated to safe houses provided by local Kenyan
nationals in Mombasa in August 2002. Between August
2002 and October 2002 Omar Said Omar, a local Kenyan
associate, met several times with Issa Osman Issa and
Fazul Abdullah Mohammad (who used the alias Abdul
Karim), who were key members of the al-Qaeda cell, at the
Mombasa Poly technic Mosque to discuss preparations for
the operation.
In contrast to the 1998
bombing in Nairobi, all but
one of the suspects in the
November 2002 attacks
in Mombasa were Kenyan
nationals, including the
two suicide bombers
Subsequent investigations revealed that the explosive
device was assembled in a farmhouse on the outskirts of
Mombasa under the supervision of Fazul Abdullah
Mohammad, who also briefed the suicide bombers two
days before the attack.
In contrast to the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi
in 1998, all of the suspects involved in the November 2002
attacks were Kenyan nationals, with the exception of Abu
Talha al-Sudani (a Sudanese). This included the two suicide
bombers, Fumo Mohamed Fumo and Haruni Bamusa.
During the subsequent investigations another Kenyan
national and suspect, Faizel Ali Nassor, killed himself and a
Kenyan police officer when he detonated a hand grenade
on 1 August 2003 rather than be arrested.
These bombings illustrate how extremist ideas and the
previously alien concepts of suicide operations and
martyrdom had become further embedded within Kenyan
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm6
society. In the relatively short period of four years since
1998, Kenyan nationals were now willing to act as suicide
bombers. Additionally, as will be explained below, local
Kenyan nationals were a key factor in the planning phases
of the attacks.
Most of Kenya’s Muslims – estimated as being between
5 and 15 per cent of the country’s population – practice a
moderate form of Islam. Certainly, prior to the 1998 US
Embassy attack, this predominantly Christian country had
no previously known history of religious extremism leading
to violence. The situation would appear to be that small
groups of al-Qaeda sympathisers who were willing to
actively participate in suicide operations now lived among
the Muslim community. This phenomenon may be
attributable, at least in part, to such factors as growing
anti-US sentiment in response to ‘the global war on terror’,
which has been interpreted by some as a war on Islam.
Certainly, extremists have often exploited images relating to
the US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq to
reinforce such perceptions, which may ultimately be used
to recruit people for suicide operations.
Reaction from Kenyan officials
When analysing the reaction of Kenyan officials to the
attacks, four key themes emerge, and each of these is
outlined below.
Initially any national root causes or responsibility for the
attacks was denied. Politically, confronted with the
bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi and the acts of
terrorism in Mombasa in 2002, some Kenyan
governmental officials considered Kenya to be an
innocent victim of a conflict between the US and Islamic
extremists. For example, in July 2005 government
spokesperson Alfred Mutua said: ‘We do not think there
is an element of terrorism in Kenyans; it’s foreigners
using Kenyans as conduits.’12 Only a few officials
accepted that Kenya had internal problems that needed
to be addressed, such as Chris Murungaru, the
then-minister for national security, who on 29 June 2003
acknowledged that ‘Kenya’s war against terrorism will
only be won by accepting that the problem exists’.
Nevertheless, despite growing evidence of the gradual
radicalisation of a number of local Muslim community
members and evidence that Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan
was directly involved in the 2002 Mombasa attacks, the
dominant opinion, including that of Kenyan investigators,
remained that the attacks in 1998 and 2002 were
orchestrated from abroad. This is clearly illustrated by a
comment made by Ambassador John Sawe, then
Kenya’s ambassador to Israel, who in the aftermath of
the bombing of the Paradise Hotel stated: ‘There is no
doubt in my mind that al-Qa’eda is behind this attack,
because we have no domestic problems, no terrorism in
our country, and we have no problem with our
neighbors, no problem whatsoever.’13
There was a disproportionate response by the Kenyan
security apparatus. While the political debate continued,
Kenya’s security apparatus appeared to overreact in
response to political pressure, as evidenced by the
disproportionate numbers of potential suspects who
were arrested. For example, in September 2003 police
officials in Mombasa arrested more than 800 people.
This formed part of a wider campaign in which an
estimated 1 200 people, mostly foreigners, were
arrested in an ef fort to identify terror suspects. This
dragnet approach caused a public outcry, which
included allegations of the violation of people’s right of
free movement and assembly.
Discriminatory responses further fuelled sentiments of
marginalisation. Many of the arrests appear to have
been discriminatory and arbitrary, with many Muslims,
particularly ethnic Somalis and Arabs, being targeted.
Local Muslim leaders feared that the investigation into
the Paradise Hotel blast would lead to new reprisals
against their community and would bolster the radicals
even more. According to Najib Balala, the former mayor
of Mombasa, ‘Harassment and intimidation [by the
government] have always been there for us. Now we are
already branded as second-class citizens because we
are Muslims and Arabs.’ Similarly, according to the
director of Muslims for Human Rights, Khelef Khalifa,
police harassed Muslim residents in Mombasa in
response to the attacks and arrested key suspects’
relatives when they (i.e. the police) failed to arrest those
directly involved in the attacks.14
Growing frustrations as a result of anti-Western
sentiments manifested themselves in attacks being
perpetrated against a number of churches and
businesses with Western connections. For example, on
18 December 2002 petrol bombs were thrown at Tempo
Discotheque in northern Mombasa, which was operated
jointly by a Kenyan and a European investor.15
It is especially the second and third factors that will be
referred to in a later section.
Kampala, 11 July 2010
In Kampala, Uganda on 11 July 2010 at approximately
22:25 at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant and at 23:15 at
the Kyadondo Rugby Club, suicide bombers targeted
crowds watching a live screening of a FIFA World Cup
match, claiming 74 lives and leaving 70 others injured.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying
they were in retaliation for Uganda’s participation in
7Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
These attacks were significant because they marked
al-Shabaab’s first attacks outside Somalia. But there was
something else that caught the eye of analysts and security
agents – those involved included Kenyan nationals, while
the logistics to carry out the attacks were almost entirely
coordinated from Kenya. Those involved included:16
Omar Awadh Omar.
Al Amin Kimathi, chairman of Kenya’s Muslim Human
Rights Forum.
Mohamed Ali Mohamed, who is believed to have trained
with al-Shabaab in Somalia and allegedly brought
explosive material from Somalia to Mombasa, where he
may have obtained additional components for the bombs
(according to investigators, Mohamed left the explosives
with an associate in Kenya and then went to Uganda,
where he later supervised the assembly of the bombs).
Hussein Hassan Agade (trained by al-Shabaab in
Somalia) and Idris Christopher Magondu, who
according to investigators were responsible for
arranging safe houses in Uganda, including in the
western town of Mbale, and for facilitating the transfer
ofthe suicide bombers from Kenya and Uganda.
According to a UN report, Issa Ahmed Luyima, the leader
of the cell in Uganda responsible for executing the attacks,
was radicalised in Kenya and Tanzania before training with
al-Shabaab in Somalia.17
The link with Tanzania was Hijar Selemen
Nyamandondo, a Tanzanian national who travelled from
Tanzania to Kenya in late April 2010, where he collected the
suicide vests before proceeding to Kampala in earlyMay.18
Investigations that followed the Kampala attacks
revealed a very disturbing pattern of recruitment of young
people from East African urban centres, indoctrinating
them with extremist ideology and deploying them to carry
out deadly attacks. Later, the Kenyan security apparatus
played a key role in rounding up the suspected
masterminds of the attack and handing them over to
Ugandan authorities. In essence, Kenya found itself in the
eye of the storm of extremist elements that had emerged
inthe Horn of Africa.
Ugandan police made many arrests in the days following
the Kampala bombings and a Ugandan national was
arrested in Kenya. Twenty people were arrested, including
several Pakistanis. Three Kenyans – Hussein Hassan Agad,
Mohamed Adan Abdow and Idris Magondu – were
charged with 76 counts of murder, while Interpol also
published facial reconstructions of two suspected
bombers. These suggested that one was of Somali origin
and the other a black African of unknown origin, some
hinted from Kenya. On 18 August Ugandan officials
charged 32 people with murder, including Ugandans,
Kenyans and Somalis.
Kenyan nationals join al-Shabaab in
The sentiment in Kenya before the July 2010 attacks in
Kampala was that the situation in Somalia was not
impacting on the rest of the region. However, this changed
as more Kenyan nationals were implicated in attacks in
Not only did al-Shabaab recruit fighters in Kenya, it also
recruited suicide bombers. For example, on 19 April 2007
asuicide bomber detonated his device as he crashed a
vehicle through the gates of the Ethiopian army base in
Mogadishu. The explosion caused further secondary blasts
due to its proximity to nearby munitions. Al-Shabaab
identified the suicide bomber as a Kenyan national,
Othman Otayo.19
In early October 2011 another al-Shabaab suicide
bomber drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a
checkpoint at the entrance to Somalia’s Ministry of
Education in Mogadishu. The blast killed over 65 people.
Shortly after the explosion al-Shabaab claimed
responsibility for the attack on one of its websites.
Acouple of weeks later, during a media briefing in Nairobi,
a Kenya Defence Forces spokesperson, while outlining
some of the reasons why Kenyan soldiers were deployed in
Somalia to pursue al-Shabaab, said that the person who
carried out the attack in the Somali capital was in fact a
Kenyan national from Kiambu, a semi-rural town on the
outskirts of Nairobi.
This last example was particularly worrying as the
Kenyan national was from a rural area outside Nairobi, not
from the coastal region that was an area of concern. In
essence, then, the threat was closer to home than
originally thought.
Kenya’s intervention in Somalia
Before October 2011 Kenya experienced the following
On 11 July 2007 two people, including one suspected of
carrying explosives, died outside City Gate Restaurant
next to the Hotel Ambassadeur, as the device was
suspected to have detonated prematurely.
In late September 2009 guests at the Simmers
restaurant on Kenyatta Avenue found a Russian-made
grenade under seats.
On 13 June 2010 three grenades exploded at a political
rally in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, killing six people and injuring
On 4 December 2010 three police officers were killed in
separate grenade attacks in Nairobi.
On 20 December 2010 one person was killed and 26
injured in a grenade attack at the Kampala Coach bus
terminus in River Road.
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm8
In October 2011 Kenya deployed ground forces in
Somalia in response to the kidnapping of Westerners
along Kenya’s north-eastern coast. Although many
supported this initiative, al-Shabaab made use of this
opportunity to increase recruitment to its ranks within
Kenya.21 It is important to keep in mind that al-Shabaab
employed Somali pirates from Puntland to kidnap the
Therefore, al-Shabaab did not directly venture into
Kenya as originally stated by Kenyan authorities.
Irrespective of the semantics, it was clear that al-Shabaab
had established a considerable following in Kenya that
made Kenyan security officials increasingly uncomfortable.
After October 2011 Kenya experienced a number of
attacks in its coastal regions and Nairobi. Although not all
such attacks are listed, the following indiscriminately
targeted civilians:22
On 17 October 2011 one person was killed and 15
injured when a grenade was thrown into Mwaura’s pub
in Nairobi.
On 24 October 2011 one person was killed and eight
injured by a grenade thrown at people standing at a bus
On 16 November 2011 attackers targeting East African
Pentecostal worshippers killed two people in a grenade
attack in Garissa.
On 27 October 2011 four people were killed when a
grenade hit a vehicle in Mandera.
On 24 November 2011 three people were killed in twin
grenade attacks on the Holiday Inn in Garissa.
On 4 April 2012 two people were killed and 30 injured in
grenade attacks on a church ser vice in Mtwapa,
On 28 April 2012 one person was killed and 16 injured
at the God’s House of Miracles International Church in
Ngara, Nairobi.
On 16 May 2012 a security guard was killed after two
grenades were thrown into Bella Vista bar in Mombasa.
On 28 May 2012 one person was killed and 30 injured
after an explosive device detonated at the Assanands
building on Moi Avenue, Nairobi.
On 25 June 2012 one person was killed and several
others injured in an attack on the Jericho pub in
On 1 July 2012, 17 people were killed and 45 wounded
in grenade attacks at the Garissa Catholic church and
Africa Inland Church (AIC). Among the dead were two
police officers guarding the AIC, whose guns were
stolen by the attackers.
On 19 July 2012, grenades thrown into a hotel
restaurant and barber’s shop wounded four people in
Kenya’s Wajir border region.23
On 30 September 2012 a child was killed and three
seriously injured in a grenade attack on the
StPolycarp’s church on Juja Road, Nairobi.24
The announcement of the appointment of Sheikh Ahmad
Iman Ali as al-Shabaab’s ‘Supreme Amir’ and the
subsequent video released by Al-Kataib, al-Shabaab’s
official media company, contained several concerns for
The video was delivered entirely in Swahili with English
subtitles, indicating that its main target audience was
Kenyan nationals.
The Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) stated on its blog and
Twitter account: ‘Ali’s elevation to become the supreme
emir of Kenya for al-Shabaab is recognition from our
Somali brothers who have fought tirelessly against the
unbelievers on the importance of the Kenyan
mujahedeen in Somalia.26 In essence this confirmed
al-Shabaab’s links with the MYC.
It was a very important strategic move to use Sheikh
Ahmad Iman Ali, a Kenyan national, to reach Kenyans.
Ali was presented as a calm and charismatic individual
who possessed a solid understanding of the basic
Islamic concepts typically associated with the Salafi-
jihadi doctrine, such as tawhid (monotheism) and
al-wala' wal-bara' (loyalty to Islam and Muslims and
disavowal of non-Muslims).
More importantly, Ali spoke about Kenya as dar al-harb,
the ‘house of war’ (in contrast to dar al-Islam) where the
laws of war apply and whose people are categorised as
belligerents and therefore legitimate targets.
This reference to Kenya as dar al-harb, which should be
seen as an open declaration of war, was later confirmed by
the jihadi magazine Gaidi Mtaani, the first Swahili-language
jihadi magazine, which was first published online on 4 April
2012. The MYC has made it clear that Kenya is its main
focus in the arena of global jihad and that the group’s
future activities both inside and outside Kenya will be
focused on jihad for the sole purpose of liberating Muslims
in Somalia in particular and East Africa in general under the
banner of al-Qaeda in Eastern Africa (AQEA).27
Through its weekly newsletter, Al-Misbah, its Twitter
account (@MYC_Press) and its blog (themovingcaravan., the MYC attempts to radicalise and
recruit supporters for its ‘jihad’ in Kenya. For example,
shortly after the February 2012 merger of al-Qaeda and
al-Shabaab, the MYC issued a statement on its now-
defunct blog, mycnjiawaukweli.blogspot, welcoming the
‘long overdue’ merger while announcing the establishment
of AQEA. It added that MYC members were pleased to be
part of ‘this great union’ and hoped that Allah would grant
the mujahideen in Kenya the strength to ‘set jihad alight’ in
9Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
the country. The statement noted that thanks to the
merger, the kuffar (infidel) could never again say that
al-Shabaab was defeated or that al-Qaeda was weak,
declaring: ‘We are now multiplying from East to West and
from North to South.’ On 14 January 2012 the MYC vowed
to carry out ‘attacks against Kenya’s kuffars for our
al-Shabaab brothers until the country withdraws its troops
from Somalia’.28 Then in a post on 29 July 2012 the MYC
wrote: ‘In Kenya, the kuffar fears to go to the bars, church,
and bus stops. We are locking down Kenya insha'Allah.’
This sparked the question of whether attacks against
churches were only intended to intimidate the Kenyan
government to withdraw its troops from Somalia, or
whether their aim was to draw Kenya into a religious war
between Muslims and Christians. Although this might seem
far-fetched, such a conflict would be more sustainable than
if the aim was solely to stop Kenya’s intervention in
Somalia. In wider terms, by concentrating on a religious
conflict between dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, al-Shabaab,
the MYC and the broader AQEA are given a new lifeline
after losing ground in Somalia by establishing a more direct
allegiance to their cause with the idea of self-determination
as presented by organisations such as the Mombasa
Republican Council (MRC). This growing religious divide
came to the fore again af ter the killing on 27 August 2012
of Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a Kenyan Muslim cleric who
was alleged to have been an Islamist extremist and was
accused of arranging funding for al-Shabaab in Somalia.29
A news report stated that immediately after the attack ‘an
imam in the mosque shouted through the [loud] speaker
“blood for blood”, and immediately youths started
A key development that emerged from the violent attacks
on civilians is that local Kenyan nationals were involved and
not Somali-Kenyans or Somali nationals, as was originally
assumed. Understandably, concerns about violent
extremists in the Horn of Africa have been aggravated by
the political instability in Somalia, which gave rise to
al-Shabaab in 2007. However, as mentioned above, many
Kenyan youths, particularly those of Somali or Afro-Arab-
Swahili origin and those drawn from urban informal
settlements such as Majengo (an old informal settlement in
Nairobi’s Eastlands), have been linked to al-Shabaab
activities. The majority of Majengo inhabitants are
detribalised Muslims with low standards of living due to a
lack of economic opportunities. This area attracted the
attention of security agencies after it was reported that a
large number of Kenyan Muslim youths who had joined
al-Shabaab in Somalia came from Majengo. For example,
in December 2011 the Kenyan police released the names
of 15 men they believed had left Kismayu for Kenya. The
group included nine Kenyan nationals aged between 24
and 32 and known to have resided in Majengo and
Mombasa before leaving for Somalia in 2010.31
At the same time the Muslim community, especially
Kenyan nationals of Somali origin, are confronted with
increasing perceptions of their being responsible for the
growing security risks in the country. The fact that they are
visibly part of the Muslim community, even if not in any way
part of al-Shabaab, contributes to their being treated
differently. Most notably, members of the Somali-Kenyan
and Somali communities claim to be victims of racial or
ethnic profiling and to have been rounded up and arrested
for little reason other than their race and ethnicity. The
consequences of such marginalisation will be discussed
later in this paper.
Even before the intervention in Somalia, Kenyan
authorities in March 2011 released the names and photos
of suspects who allegedly received training in Somalia and
were part of al-Shabaab’s cell in Kenya:32
John Mwanzia Ngui, alias Yahya (killed)
David Kihuho Wangechi, alias Yusuf (killed)
Eric Achayo Ogada, alias Swaleh Ibrahim
Steven Mwanzi Osaka, alias Duda Brown and Duda
Black, charged in March 2011 with being a member of
an unlawful organisation and engaging in organised
crime that left two police officers dead33
Jeremiah Okumu, alias Duba Black or Mohamed
Sylvester Opiyo Osodo, alias Musa
Abbas Hussen Nderito
Ibrahim Ruta, alias Musyoki Kyondi
Abdulrahman Mutua Daud
Abbas Muhamad Mwai
Juma Ayub Otit
In addition to the above, a Kenyan national, Elgiva Bwire
Oliacha (aged 28), also known as Mohammed Seif, was
arrested after the two grenade attacks on 17 and
24October 2011.34 Oliacha was found with six guns,
13grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his
house. He pleaded guilty to nine charges, including
causing grievous bodily harm to two people, and was
sentenced to life imprisonment.35 He was also sentenced
to an additional 15 years for being a member of al-Shabaab
and an additional seven years for being illegally in
possession of firearms. It is interesting to note that
according to his mother he had been brought up in a strict
Catholic family, came from Busia in western Kenya and
attended schools in Nairobi.36
Omar Muchiri Athuman, alias Hussein, and Stephen
Macharia, alias Mchangoo, were charged with engaging
inan organised criminal activity with Oliacha. Both were
charged with causing grievous harm to Justus Makau
Mulwa and Patrick Ndolo Kinyingi when they detonated
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm10
agrenade at the OTC bus stop on 24 October 2011. They
were also charged with being in possession of firearms, live
hand grenades and 717 rounds of ammunition at a house
in Kayole estate.37
Irrespective of exactly how many Kenyan nationals
found themselves within the ranks of al-Shabaab, these
examples are sufficient to justify closer scrutiny of the
circumstances that increase the vulnerability of Kenyan
youths to radicalisation and recruitment to organisations
such as al-Shabaab.
Recently converted Kenyan Muslim youths
Another trend was that in addition to being locals, those
implicated had recently converted to Islam. This raised
concern among the Muslim community as to the way in
which young people were converted to Islam and the
capacity of extremists to exploit new converts. This
reminded the broader Kenyan community that ethnic or
religious profiling is not an effective counter-measure in
identifying possible al-Shabaab members or supporters.
Additionally, authorities are cautioned against perceiving
the spread of any par ticular religion or conversion to it as a
threat to national security.
This concern was confirmed by the UN Monitoring
Group for Somalia and Eritrea, which reported that
hundreds of impoverished Kenyan youths had been
recruited into al-Shabaab in recent years. The report
identified the MYC based in Nairobi’s Pumwani estate as
the coordinator of the recruitment, which will be discussed
below. According to the repor t, al-Shabaab’s presence in
Kenya has been concentrated primarily within the ethnic
Somali community, but since 2009 the group has rapidly
expanded its influence and membership to non-Somali
Kenyan nationals.38
On 12 January 2012 Kenya Defence Forces
spokesperson Maj. Emanuel Chirchir was quoted as saying
that al-Shabaab had executed a man within its ranks whom
it accused of spying for the Kenyan military. Chirchir added
that the executed ‘spy’ was a non-Somali Kenyan said to
hail from Nairobi’s Majengo area who had earlier been
recruited to fight for al-Shabaab.39
In another more recent example, Kenyan police officers
arrested Titus Nyabiswa, 26, in a village on the Kenyan
coast close to Mombasa and confiscated several firearms
and hand grenades. Nyabiswa apparently converted to
Islam in western Kenya before becoming involved with
Omar Faraj, who was allegedly involved in a bombing
incident on 24 October 2012 that killed a police officer and
two other suspected members of al-Shabaab after police
raided Faraj’s home in Mombasa. Faraj was under close
surveillance before the operation.40
When assessing the overall vulnerability of the youth in
Kenya to both radicalisation and recruitment by
organisations such as al-Shabaab, one needs to
understand where and why people are susceptible to the
message of radical ideologues. Although these reasons
differ from person to person, some common topics will be
discussed later in the paper.
An organisation that was previously implicated as being
actively involved in both recruitment and radicalisation
through lectures and the distribution of inflammatory
material was the MYC.
Muslim Youth Centre
The MYC, also known as Pumwani Muslim Youth, is based
in Nairobi, but has also developed a strong network of
members and sympathisers in areas such as Eldoret,
Garissa and Mombasa. In its 2008 constitution, the
following objectives are presented:41
i. To promote the self-sufficiency of the Muslim
Community through identification of the causes of
poverty within the Community and under taking of
effective programs to eradicate pover ty;
ii. To give the Basic Foundation of Islam in knowledge,
assistance and participation and awareness to the
Muslim Youth in particular and to the Community in
iii. To further the Cause of Islam both inside and outside
the Mosque;
iv. To promote and protect the Religious and
Communal Rights of the Muslims in our Community;
v. To conduct or arrange for regular Islamic lectures,
classes, sermons by renowned scholars in
Mosques, Social Halls, Schools, Institutions within
Pumwani Division;
vi. To set up and run Religious and secular schools,
libraries, resource centres for youths within the
Division for the purpose of nurturing and developing
talents among the youth;
vii. To render assistance for the advancement of the
Muslim community in Religion, education, health,
training, social & welfare;
viii. To give Religious Council to the youth (in particular)
and foster social development by strengthening the
Spiritual life;
ix. To wage war against drug abuse, child abuse &
molestation, prostitution, gangster terrorism,
domestic violence and AIDS;
x. To respond effectively to natural and man-made
disasters such as diseases, famine, displacement
that may befall the Community;
xi. To advance and promote peace and peaceful
co-existence by championing justice, human rights,
inclusiveness and integration in national initiatives,
mediation and resolution of conflict;
11Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
xii. To network with Other Organizations and People
sharing the aspirations of MYC for the benefit of the
Muslims in particular;
xiii. To implement any other charitable objectives
confronting Islam and which MYC deem desirable.
These objectives are commendable, especially those
addressing the social and economic needs of the
community. However, the MYC advocates an extreme
interpretation of Islam and prepares members to travel to
Somalia for ‘jihad’, thus attracting the attention of security
agencies in Kenya and abroad. For example, through its
weekly newsletter entitled Al-Misbah, its Twitter account
and its blog the MYC has disseminated extremist
propaganda material in support of both al-Shabaab and
al-Qaeda. As part of a series of weekly issues from
9October to 26 November 2009, under the headline ‘Jihad
is our religion’, Al-Misbah published an article by Anwar al
Awlaki entitled ‘44 ways of supporting jihad’.42 Ifwe realise
that jihad does not mean ‘holy war’, but ‘struggle’, then the
struggle could take place on three levels: against a visible
enemy, against the devil, or against the self or nafs (ego).43
This means that jihad should be carried out in all areas of
life. The most outward form of jihad can be identified as a
divinely sanctioned military struggle or holy war. Under the
term jihad fi sabil Allah, Muslims fight in the ‘way of God, or
for His sake in the Cause of Islam’. On returning from the
Battle of Badr, Muhammad said, ‘We are finished with the
lesser jihad; now we are starting the greater jihad’. 44 Fighting
against an outer enemy is interpreted as the lesser jihad and
fighting against one’s nafs (ego) is the greater jihad. In
summary, three kinds of struggle can be identified:
With the hand, i.e. by the ‘sword’
With the tongue, by commanding good and forbidding
With the heart, by remembering God and not giving in
In light of this, the question is: to which kind of jihad does
the MYC refer? From MYC Twitter messages referring to
jihad it is clear that it has a military struggle in mind.
Forexample, on 3 August 2012 the MYC supported its call
to violence by posting ‘Basic questions on jihad answered’
In answer to the question ‘What can I expect when I join
jihad?’ the MYC wrote: ‘For the privileged brothers and
sisters who join jihad they are given training in every thing
from the true meaning of Islam to using RPG, AK-47s
and other weapons.
In answer to the question ‘Will I be fighting other
Muslims?’ the MYC responded: ‘Any Muslim who
supports the kuffar against his Muslim brother cannot
call himself a Muslim.’
As mentioned earlier, the MYC has been implicated in
recruiting for and financing al-Shabaab in Somalia. These
allegations were confirmed on 10 January 2012 when the
MYC confirmed that al-Shabaab named Sheikh Ahmad
Iman Ali, alias Abdul Fatah, as its ‘Supreme Amir’. The
MYC’s statement in its blog read:46Allah favours our
beloved al Shabaab, and al Shabaab in return has placed
the responsibility of waging jihad in Kenya in the capable
Kenyan hands of our Amir Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali.’
Confirming Ali’s participation in Somalia, the statement
Without hesitation or excuses ... our Amir left
Majengo and MYC to begin fighting in Allah’s cause.
As a result, many of us in MYC and others in Kenya
followed our dear Amir to the land of Somalia … We
in MYC have no doubt that our Amir Sheikh Ahmad
Iman Ali will continue the unfinished work of brother
Fazul [referring to Fazul Mohammed, the former
leader of al-Qaeda’s operations in East Africa and a
senior al-Shabaab leader] in Kenya and in the
region of East Africa.
On jihad, the statement read: ‘We will wage defensive jihad
as we have been instructed to so without mercy for the
sake of our precious religion.
A close friend of Ali confirmed that Ali facilitated the safe
passage of recruits into Somalia:
It was a very secretive process. Not many people
knew about it. After you agreed to join, you
travelled in a group of between two and three by
road to the border and then crossed into Somalia.
Two weeks later, they would relay a message to
Pumwani that the journey was successful. Amir is
leading us. We call him Mujahideen. He is fighting
in the way of Allah.47
Subsequently, through Ali’s facilitation, Kenyans reportedly
constituted the largest contingent of non-Somali al-
Shabaab fighters.48 According to an article in Sabahi in
August 2012, Ali commands up to 500 Kenyan fighters,
many of whom are children, in Somalia.49
Before the announcement of his promotion to emir, Ali
featured in a video released by al-Shabaab in which
Muslims were urged to travel to the global theatres of war,
and if they could not make the journey, to wage jihad at
home: ‘[If you] are unable to reach the land of jihad, like the
land of Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Algeria, or Iraq, if you
are unable to reach these lands which have established the
banner of tawheed and the Shariah of Allah, then raise your
sword against the enemy that is closest to you.’50
Before Ali’s open commitment to al-Shabaab, the UN
Monitoring Group in its 2011 report explained that he was
astudent of Sheikh Aboud Rogo, an open campaigner for
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm12
al-Shabaab based in Mombasa before his death on
27August 2012. After Ali left for Mombasa, Rogo’s main
ally in the MYC was Sylvester Opiyo Osodo, alias Musa,
who heads MYC’s resource centre. In addition to Opiyo
regularly visiting Rogo in Mombasa, he also arranged
Rogo’s trips to and from Majengo, where the latter
delivered lectures to the MYC that facilitated al-Shabaab
recruitment. For example, after he converted to Islam,
Suleiman Irungo Mwangi, alias Karongo (currently a senior
MYC commander in Somalia), was taken to Somalia by
Juma Ayub Otit Were, alias the ‘Taxi Driver’, a senior MYC
commander in Somalia.51
Together with Ali, Rogo was another central figure
behind the MYC’s commitment to al-Shabaab, the
radicalisation and recruitment of Kenyan youths, and the
channelling of fighters to Somalia. According to the UN
Security Council:
[A]s the main ideological leader of Al Hijra, formerly
known as the Muslim Youth Center ... Rogo ... has
used the extremist group as a pathway for
radicalization and recruitment of principally Swahili
speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant
activity in Somalia. In a series of inspirational
lectures between February 2009 and February
2012, [Rogo] repeatedly called for the violent
rejection of the Somali peace process. During these
lectures, Rogo repeatedly called for the use of
violence against both the United Nations and ...
AMISOM forces in Somalia, and urged his
audiences to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabaab's
fight against the Kenyan Government. ... Rogo ...
also offers guidance on how Kenyan recruits joining
al-Shabaab can evade detection by the Kenyan
authorities, and which routes to follow when
traveling from Mombasa and/or Lamu to Al-
Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, notably Kismayo.
He has facilitated the travel to Somalia of numerous
Kenyan recruits for al-Shabaab. In September 2011,
Rogo was recruiting individuals in Mombasa, Kenya
for travel into Somalia, presumably to conduct
terrorist operations. In September 2008, Rogo held
a fundraising meeting in Mombasa to help finance
al-Shabaab activities in Somalia.52
The UN Security Council further stated that:
Abubaker Shariff Ahmed [another MYC leader] is
aleading facilitator and recruiter of young Kenyan
Muslims for violent militant activity in Somalia, and a
close associate of Aboud Rogo. He provides
material support to extremists groups in Kenya (and
elsewhere in East Africa). Through his frequent trips
to al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, including
Kismayo, he has been able to maintain strong ties
with senior al-Shabaab members. ... Ahmed is also
engaged in the mobilization and management of
funding for al-Shabaab … and has preached at
mosques in Mombasa that young men should travel
to Somalia, commit extremist acts, fight for al-
Qa'ida, and kill U.S. citizens. ... Ahmed was arrested
in late December 2010 by Kenyan authorities on
suspicion of involvement in the bombing of a
Nairobi bus terminal. ... Ahmed is also a leader of a
Kenya-based youth organization in Mombasa with
ties to al-Shabaab. As of 2010, ... Ahmed acted as a
recruiter and facilitator for al-Shabaab in the
Majengo area of Mombasa, Kenya.53
The growing numbers of MYC members and other
indigenous Kenyans involved in Somalia was further
highlighted in the report of the UN Monitoring Group,
whichlisted the following evidence:54
On 15 July 2008 an Al-Shabaab force of 30-40 fighters,
including an MYC member named Mohamed Juma
Rajab (aka Qa’Qa ‘Kadume’), ambushed a patrol of TFG
and Ethiopian forces at Bardaale, 60 km from Baidoa.
In a November 2010 al-Shabaab video a senior MYC
member, Wahome Tajir Ali ‘Abu Jafar’, was featured.
On 20 March 2011 a Kenyan contingent in Somalia
fought alongside al-Shabaab during a clash with the
TFG and the Ras Kamboni militia. Among the al-
Shabaab forces was Ramadan Osao, alias Captain, an
MYC commander. The TFG forces had to retreat and
Osao used this ‘victory’ to justify more members of the
MYC travelling to Somalia to join al-Shabaab.
According to the US Treasury Department, following an
executive order of President Barack Obama, the MYC is
not the only entity in East Africa known to maintain ties with
al-Shabaab. Another group that was identified is the
Tanzanian Ansaar Muslim Youth Centre based in Tanga,
Tanzania under the leadership of Sheikh Salim Abdulrahim
Barahiyan. In addition, this executive order also identified
individuals from Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea and Sudan as
having links with al-Shabaab.55
When discussing the factors driving or drawing people to
extremism, it is important to recognise that such factors
differ from person to person and that, although one may
identity broad trends, most deciding factors are personal.
While a number of factors play a role in the
radicalisation process, political socialisation provides
important insights into the process through which an
individual increasingly becomes involved in terrorist
activity. Hogan and Taylor, for example, noted: ‘What we
13Ann eli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
know of actual terrorists suggests that there is rarely a
conscious decision made to become a terrorist. Most
involvement in terrorism results from gradual exposure and
socialisation towards extreme behaviour.56 Thus the
process is gradual and includes many occurrences,
experiences, perceptions and role-players: ‘As with all
social learning, political learning is gradual and
incremental. There is no magic point in youth when the
“political self” is suddenly acquired. Each citizen’s political
views result from lifelong experiences. Political
socialization is the gradual moulding of the political self.’57
While basic socialisation agents provide the initial
framework for later radicalisation, additional factors that
contribute to radicalisation need to be identified,
Factors influencing the individual’s development of
political participation on the psychological level.
The political, social and economic environment in which
individuals grow up.
The domestic circumstances of a country or community,
including ethnic, national and religious discrimination,
and socioeconomic marginalisation.
Social and political changes and challenges.
International political developments.
The nature of the state, most notably the form of
government and the relationship between those in
power and the populace, including the impact of
violence on the political socialisation of children; the
relationship between the state and organisations in
providing a theoretical perspective on the ‘conflict’
between organisations and the state for political control;
the use of state structures, namely the police and the
military, in counter-terrorism; the legitimacy of the state
as an essential element; the lack of the rule of law and
good governance; violations of human rights; and
political exclusion and repression.
Psychological trauma, particularly the death and injury
of a family member at the hands of security forces.
Prolonged unresolved conflicts or the impact of conflict
on the socialisation process in terms of which
domestic conflict and war abroad (most notably
Somalia) provides a central organisation (al-Shabaab)
that individuals can associate with (while a group such
as al-Shabaab might not reflect each individual’s
overarching sentiments, individuals can turn to it when
placed under pressure).
The role of each of these factors is unmistakable in the
radicalisation process and will be discussed further.
In Kenya, socioeconomic, political, religious, national
identity, counter-terrorism and internal/personal factors
were identified as driving people, including the youth, into
radical groups. Each of these will be discussed briefly.
Socioeconomic factors
Socioeconomic drivers of radicalisation in Kenya include
real and perceived marginalisation and exclusion from
national resources, frustrated expectations, and relative
deprivation. Despite the immediate links that are often
made between poverty and radicalisation, the issue of
economic conditions extends well beyond just poverty.
Inother words, other indicators (see below) facilitate or
provide favourable circumstances for radicalisation and
eventual recruitment. Therefore, economic difficulties that
include, for example, unequal access to resources and
expertise contribute to a state’s vulnerability to terrorism.
Inassessing the impact of economic conditions, brief
reference will be made to: population growth as well as
uneven development and the growing divide between rich
and poor.
A common perception is that poverty is a cause of
terrorism. However, when studying the background of
those behind terrorist attacks, it has been noted that not
only poor people are drawn to terrorism. The possibility of
better-off people being drawn to extremism makes it
necessary to determine the role poor economic
Poor economic conditions increase pressure for
economic change that in turn impacts on government
reactions. Situations where increased economic disparities
occur within or are limited to identifiable ethnic and
religious groups definitely af fect the political climate, raising
questions of discrimination and marginalisation. Generally
speaking, deteriorating social conditions increase the
possibility of such conditions becoming a political issue.
Therefore, the monitoring of socioeconomic trends is the
most clear-cut way of identifying an emerging issue that
will have political consequences.
However, drawing a distinction between leaders and
followers, or those planning and those executing acts of
terrorism, might be helpful in assessing the influence of
economic circumstances as being conducive to terrorism.
Leaders are of ten charismatic, educated, capable of
manipulating their followers and able to exploit
socioeconomic conditions. Under normal circumstances
itis to be expected that leaders might come from a
professional middle class that is difficult and expensive to
replace, while economic circumstances are used to ‘sell’ a
cause to the less fortunate. Manipulated through their need
to belong and matter, those who are less fortunate become
replaceable foot soldiers. In transnational terror networks
educated members of the middle class have another
advantage: the ability to blend in with the societies they are
attacking, which probably explains the involvement of
individuals coming from better socioeconomic conditions
in the execution of terrorist operations.
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm14
Despite these exceptions, poor socioeconomic
conditions in terms of population growth, poor access to
public services, uneven development, urbanisation, lack of
economic prosperity, unemployment and illiteracy can
contribute to a countr y and community’s vulnerability to
social conflict and radicalisation. It is, however, important
to keep political conditions, most notably the ability to
express these frustrations, and other sociological
circumstances in mind when conducting an analysis.
Inother words, those assessing the role of economic
conditions should guard against the assumption that
socioeconomic or political conditions ‘compel’ individuals
or groups to commit acts of terrorism. The central
argument is that a combination of factors can eventually
manifest in acts of terrorism. On the African continent,
countries are increasingly confronted with socioeconomic
frustration. The introduction of a political or religious
ideology can allow poor socioeconomic conditions to
throw up individuals who have nothing to lose – in other
words, replaceable foot soldiers. But in a country or
community where everyone is poor, bad economic
conditions alone do not drive people to radicalisation or to
commit acts of terrorism without other more prominent
factors playing a role.
Population growth
Population growth and the possibility of conflict are directly
linked to the ability of the state, more directly the ‘land’, to
fulfil people’s basic needs. Although a larger workforce can
financially contribute to the sustainability of the state, a
situation can also develop where neither the state nor the
‘land’ can sustain the population. Associated with this is
the growing concern that population growth and climate
change will further enhance the possibility of conflict over
water and food on the African continent. Overpopulation,
particularly in situations where the majority of the
population is underage, can place additional strain on
basic service delivery.
High population growth, particularly in developing
countries, can enhance the vulnerability of a country to
instability and conflict on two levels: firstly, through putting
strain on government to fulfil the basic needs of its citizens
and, secondly, as a result of competition among people for
scarce resources made worse by overpopulation.
Countries with a large youth population that are unable to
provide education, employment and broader upliftment
opportunities are particularly at risk of growing
marginalisation and frustration. When accompanied by
urbanisation, slums can be a breeding ground for
extremism: ‘[S]lum belts around many cities in the
developing world are living with explosive population
growth placing in the hands of revolutionary organizations,
dedicated to destroying governments, legions of young
women and men with few good prospects – the veritable
working capital of violence.58
Uneven development
In addition to overall access to basic needs and services,
access to these facilities is often unequally distributed
within a countr y. For example, people often expect that
there should be less access to basic services in rural than
in urban areas. It is also to be expected that richer
communities will have better access to services than
poorer communities. According to the Failed State Index of
the Fund for Peace, uneven development in Kenya in 2012
is scored at 8,2 (on a scale where fully uneven
development = 10 and fully even development = 1).59
However, when access to resources is based on ethnic,
cultural or religious characteristics or there is a growing
divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in countries and
communities, economic conditions further contribute to
instability. In other words, countries confronted by large
differences between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are
additionally vulnerable to conflict, which may include
resorting to acts of terrorism.
The relationship between inequality and conflict extends
beyond socioeconomic or even political conditions.
According to the World Bank’s 2004 World Development
High inequality can lead to latent social conflict,
which manifests itself through political struggles for
public resources. Inequality may mean that different
social groups have different interests, and the
outcome of the political process through which
those interests are reconciled may lead to reduce
aggregate outcomes. This may happen because
political processes (electoral or otherwise) seek to
effect redistributions, but may do so in ways that
have high economic costs.60
Latent social conflict caused by factors such as inequality,
ethnic and linguistic fragmentation, and social distrust in
government institutions play a key role, directly impacting
on the state’s ability to deal with social conflict. In other
words, the greater the latent social conflict, the less state
institutions will be able to effectively manage that conflict.
Inhabitants of the coastal region in Kenya, where
30percent of the country’s Muslim population lives,
complain that this area is less developed than the rest of
the country. What makes this uneven development more
volatile is the perception that the religious divide in the
country ultimately contributes to this situation. It is
therefore not only a debate about development, but
becomes a religious and eventually a political debate.
Subsequent calls for self-determination and independence
from the rest of the country become intertwined with
15An neli Bo thA • iSS pAper 245 • A pril 2013
religious, political and economic circumstances that are
increasingly difficult to separate.
Kenya’s scores in the annual Failed State Index indicate
that the country experiences considerable demographic
pressures, group grievances, uneven development, poverty
and decline, despite nominal improvements here and there
(see Table 1).
Table 1 Kenya's Failed State Index scores
2009 2010 20 11 2012
Demographic pressure 9,0 9,1 8,8 8,9
Refugees & IDPs 9,0 8,7 8,5 8,4
Group grievances 8,6 8,9 8,7 8,9
Human flight 8,3 7,9 7,6 7,7
Uneven development 8,8 8,7 8,5 8,2
Poverty & decline 7, 5 7, 4 7, 0 7, 3
In terms of coastal people’s claims that the Kenyan
authorities disregard their needs, the coastal region was
traditionally far more developed as a trade route from the
Middle East and India to the interior, but this situation has
changed dramatically since independence:
Apart from Mombasa, no intermediate urban
centres have been designated. There has not been
any concerted effort or planning for the
development of this part of the country by
successive governments. Since Independence the
centre has been dominated by up-country groups
and there has been an under representation of
ministerial positions given to coastal
representatives. Not surprisingly, the Coast has also
taken a relative marginal position in respect to the
distribution of investments and ser vices …
theCoast appears the most deprived region.61
Political factors
Associated with the above, the development of the
Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) (see below) indicates
that a number of Muslims in Kenya, especially in the
coastal region, feel politically marginalised to such an
extent that they are demanding independence from Kenya.
In an attempt to understand the origins of the MRC,
Hassan Ole Naado provided a historical analysis of how
Muslims, especially in the coastal region, perceive the
‘other’ (see below).62
The history of Kenya as a nation has also contributed
to the radicalisation that today leads many Muslim youths
to join extremist groups. Although Kenya is a secular
state, it is essentially a Christian country because of the
dominant Christian population and the fact that, as a
former British colony, the structures of government are
based on Christian principles. Consequently, there is the
perception that Islam is ‘alien’, despite the fact that it
came to Kenya before Christianity. A number of factors
affect this process.
Shifta War
Following independence, the Kenyan government adopted
the British model, while the seat of political power was
based in Nairobi, a predominantly Christian area.
Consequently, while further strengthened by a
geographical divide (see above), Muslims in post-
independence Kenya have been kept on the fringes of the
national agenda. This caused the Muslim community to
feel that it was not part of Kenya. Equally, it caused the
government and non-Muslims to question the patriotism of
Muslims, a perception that was strengthened by the fact
that after independence the Kenyan-Somalis started
agitating for a separate homeland with the option of joining
their brethren in Somalia.
This feeling of not being part of Kenya started when
Kenya’s independence was being negotiated. During
forums such as the Lancaster House conferences, many
ethnicities were adequately represented, except for the
Kenyan-Somalis. Consequently, when Kenya attained
independence in 1963, the Somali community in Kenya felt
that it had been left out and was not part of the new
government. This ultimately led to the Shifta separatist war
(1963–67). This war, initiated by the Somali ethnic
community, was an attempt to have the Northern Frontier
District (NFD) secede from Kenya to join a Greater Somalia.
The Kenyan government named the conflict after the
Somali word for ‘bandit’, which is shifta.63
Calls for a Greater Somalia uniting all the Somali-
speaking people in the Horn of Africa can be traced back
to 26 June 1960, days after the British government granted
independence to the former British Somaliland as Somalia.
This Greater Somalia included areas in Djibouti (the former
French Somaliland), Ethiopia and Kenya.64 Thus, in addition
to negatively impacting on stability in Kenya, the source of
the Ogaden separatist movement in Ethiopia can also be
traced back to this period.
In an attempt to find a solution to the Shifta uprising, the
Somali community was allowed to vote in the first
referendum since independence on whether to remain part
of Kenya or join Somalia. The outcome of the referendum
was obvious – the Somalis chose to join Somalia – but the
authorities told those who voted for independence that
they were welcome to leave Kenya for Somalia, as Kenya
was not prepared to surrender its territory. This marked the
beginning of the Shifta separatist war, during which
Somalis claimed part of the Kenyan coast from Kilifi to
Lamu as par t of Somalia and started a guerrilla war to
reclaim it.65
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm16
The Kenyan government responded with brutal force by
declaring the entire north-eastern part of Kenya and all
regions bordering the Somali-populated regions security
operation zones. In an article published in the Daily Nation
on 1 Februar y 2012, members of the Bajuni community,
who reside in the Kiunga coastal area of Lamu on the
Kenyan border with Somalia, told the Truth, Justice and
Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) of the atrocities they
suffered 40 years ago during the Shifta uprising. Athman
Ali, who fled to Manda Island and later returned to Kiunga,
told the TJRC that they were happier under the British
colonialists than during the rule of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s
first post-independence president. He accused the former
president of sending security officers to uproot local
people from 12 villages on the pretext that the Bajunis (a
predominantly Muslim community) had sided with the
Somali shifta militia. Such are the grievances that Muslims
have harboured against successive governments in Kenya,
terming them historical injustices against Muslims.66
Because of the Shifta War and the fact that the Somali-
Kenyans in many ways represent the face of Islam in
Kenya, the entire Muslim community has been
marginalised. As a result of this, many Muslims in Kenya
have grown up with some sort of ‘rage’ against successive
Christian-dominated governments, thus making it easy for
young Muslims to join extremist groups in the name of
‘defending’ their faith.67
Mombasa Republican Council
In a renewed drive to fight for the self-determination of
Muslims in the coastal region, the MRC was established in
2008. Despite the fact that a different area, influenced by a
different history, is being contested to that in question in
the Shifta War, the underlying reasons are remarkably
similar: socioeconomic and political marginalisation.
Many Muslims in Kenya
have harboured grievances
against successive
governments, making it
easy for young Muslims
to join extremist groups
Whereas the Shifta War called for the integration of the
NFD with Somalia, the MRC claimed that the ten-mile
coastal strip of Kenya that used to be under the control of
the Sultanate of Zanzibar in 1820 should be given
independence. Similarly in Tanzania, a number of Islamic
organisations, including the National Association of Koran
Readers in Tanzania (Balukta) and the Civic United Front
(CUF), emerged in 1980 in opposition to the government.
Since then, fundamentalist Muslims have tried to enforce
an Islamic lifestyle that resulted in riots in 1993–94 when
owners of butcher shops selling pork were attacked.
Consequently, friction between Muslims and Christians
has increased and separatist voices have grown louder.
Some called for the transformation of Tanzania in its
entirety into a Muslim state. Others called for the secession
of Zanzibar and its conversion into an Islamic state. New
Muslim organisations have been formed and political
tension gradually escalated, especially directly before and
during elections. For example, in January and February
1998, there were violent clashes in Dar es Salaam between
the radical Khidmat Al-Dawa Al-Islamiya and the ruling
Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. The Uamsho
(Awakening) organisation, previously known as the
Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation, has
called for a referendum on Zanzibar’s exit from its union
with mainland Tanzania. Uamsho has been gaining
popularity following the dissatisfaction of supporters of
Zanzibar’s main opposition party, CUF, with its decision to
form a government of national unity with the CCM.68 This
has in turn affected Kenya. In both Kenya and Tanzania
religion has thus merged with politics to create a volatile
Religious factors
Wahhabi influence in Kenya
Like many other Muslims in various parts of the world,
young Kenyan Muslims have been indoctrinated into the
belief that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the
Palestinian-Israeli crisis are part of a broader global
campaign against Islam. By promoting universal Muslim
brotherhood, the Hanbali school started to oppose the
Shafi’i school in Kenya, resulting in local Muslim youths
starting to regard the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq and
Palestine as problems affecting all Muslims across the
world and, therefore, worthy of their involvement. This
ideology, which preaches universal Muslim brotherhood,
led to young people from various par ts of East Africa being
recruited as mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan against the
Soviet occupation. These factors combine to provide fertile
ground for Muslim youths in Kenya to become radicalised
and join extremist groups.
To understand this, the historical origins of the Hanbali
school need to be briefly discussed. Ahmad ibn Hanbal
was taught by Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i, the founder
of the Shafi'i school. There is therefore a direct link
between the Shafi'i and Hanbali schools. The Hanbali
17A nnel i BothA • iSS pApe r 245 • April 2013
school derives its rulings almost solely from the Koran and
Sunnah, which proves to be popular with those wishing to
return to a ‘purer’ Islam (the Wahhabi movement, for
instance, emerged from the Hanbali school). Additionally,
during the Abbasid period (750–1258), when the Hanbali
school was formed, jurists focused on the issues of the
legitimacy of the government and the ‘unity of the
community’. Ahmad ibn Hanbal introduced an important
precedent when he placed the unity of the community over
the legitimacy of the government should there be conflict
between these two principles: ‘From now on the emphasis
in the juridical theory was on the authority of the leader
(caliph) as a political symbol and the unity of the group as a
human base.69
For the past two decades, Kenya has also witnessed
the rapid growth and spread of the Wahhabi strain of Islam
after the return of Muslim students who went for religious
studies in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism was developed by the
18th-century Muslim theologian Muhammad ibn Abd
al-Wahhab (1703–92) from Najd, Saudi Arabia. Al-Wahhab
advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be
‘impurities’ and ‘innovations’. Wahhabism claims to adhere
to the correct understanding of the general Islamic
doctrine of Tawhid – the Uniqueness and Unity of God
– shared by the majority of Islamic sects, but uniquely
interpreted by al-Wahhab. Al-Wahhab was influenced by
the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned classical
interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Koran and
the Hadith as his authorities. Wahhabism therefore
dismisses Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali and Shafi’i interpretations
of the Hadith as impurities and innovations. Al-Wahhab
also condemned what he perceived as moral decline and
political weakness in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as
‘idolatry’, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb
visitations (in this he was actually attacking Shia Islam
because of its tradition of shrine and tomb visitation). The
terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often used interchangeably
to mean ultra-conservative.
Since then, Salafi/Wahhabi missionaries have
penetrated Muslim communities in Kenya, particularly in
urban villages and marginalised rural areas. Poverty,
hopelessness and lack of opportunities have provided
fertile ground for the Salafi movement to enter the lives of
destitute Muslim youths by establishing strategically
targeted social and economic empowerment programmes.
These programmes include the provision of bursaries for
needy students to pursue their (Islamic) education and
giving star t-up capital to small businesses. In doing so,
Salafists have increasingly offered local governance
structures in ‘ungoverned spaces’, thus creating significant
exposure to and support for radical interpretations of
Islamic teachings and upsetting the erstwhile serene
Muslim community that for centuries followed the
non-radical Shafi’i school of thought. Therefore, through
religious and other educational institutions influenced by
extremist ideals, the Kenyan Muslim community is under
threat from within.
Furthermore, the Salafist movement is largely
decentralised, yet unified by a common strategy that
includes infiltrating existing insurgencies throughout the
Islamic world, hijacking parochial goals and radicalising
local populations. This strategy has been adopted in Kenya
by Saudi-trained Wahhabi scholars to take over mosques,
madrassas and welfare societies. It has succeeded in
rendering the Shafi’i, who for centuries dominated Islamic
affairs in Kenya and the east coast of Africa, increasingly
impotent and irrelevant in the governance of the welfare of
Muslim communities.
Funding of Muslim charitable organisations
The 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and
Dar es Salaam was partly funded by money channelled
through charities such as the Al-Haramain Foundation
(AHF). According to the UN narrative summary of reasons
for listing organisations as terrorist organisations:
The Kenyan branch of AHF as early as 1997 was
involved in plotting terrorist attacks against
Americans. As a result, a number of individuals
connected to AHF in Kenya were arrested and later
deported by Kenyan authorities. In August 1997, an
AHF employee indicated that the planned attack
against the United States Embassy in Nairobi would
be a suicide bombing carried out by crashing a
vehicle into the gate of the Embassy. A wealthy AHF
official outside East Africa had agreed to provide
the necessary funds. Also in 1997, AHF senior
activists in Nairobi decided to alter their (then)
previous plans to bomb the United States Embassy
in Nairobi and instead sought to attempt to
assassinate United States citizens. During this
period, an AHF official indicated that he had
obtained five hand grenades and seven ‘bazookas’
from a source in Somalia. These weapons were to
be used in a possible assassination attempt against
a United States official. Wadih el-Hage, a leader of
the Al-Qaida cell in East Africa and personal
secretary to Osama bin Laden, visited the Kenya
offices of AHF before the 1998 attacks on the
United States Embassies in Nairobi and Dares-
Salaam. El-Hage possessed contact information for
a senior AHF official who was head of AHF’s Africa
Committee, the overseeing authority for AHF’s
offices in Kenya and Tanzania. AHF (Kenya) was
deregistered in 1998, following its alleged links with
Al-Qaida and the United States embassy bombings
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm18
in Kenya and Tanzania ... However, in 1999, AHF
(Kenya) successfully contested deregistration in the
courts and resumed operations the following year ...
Although AHF has reportedly scaled down its
activities and closed its offices, some personalities
associated with it may be operating other similar
organizations in the country.70
The 11 September 2001 attacks in the US caused Western
countries to embark on wide-ranging security measures
that included tracking down suspected sources of
financing of terrorist activities and the blacklisting and
shutting down of international Muslim charitable
organisations thought to be involved in this process. These
actions caused further socioeconomic desperation among
Muslim communities that depended on these
This in turn led to a change of tactics by people
considered to be direct beneficiaries of these
organisations, the majority of whom are Saudi-trained
scholars and imams. This group developed new
mechanisms for accessing funds and controlling the
Kenyan Muslim community’s socioeconomic and political
infrastructure by establishing new bodies and associations,
and taking over those that already existed. For example,
in2009 a bitter leadership feud erupted at the Riyadha
Mosque in Nairobi’s Majengo area when young Muslims
violently took over the management of the mosque and
several income-generating ventures, ousting a committee
of elderly people. The leader of the young people who led
this Salafist ‘palace coup’ was later to go underground and
resurface in a video recording sent to a local media house
brandishing heavy machine guns and claiming to have
joined al-Shabaab.
This is, however, not an unfamiliar strategy, as more and
more indigenous people in Africa are turning towards Islam,
not always as a result of religious convictions, but to benefit
from Islamic educational institutions, social welfare and
mobile clinics, which cater for people of all faiths. This is
apart from the mushrooming of mosques and madrassas.
People with socioeconomic problems need help, a factor
used by humanitarian organisations of all faiths, but it can
also lead to the acceptance of an ideology that will give
meaning and purpose to the lives of such people. In the
case of Islam, the mosque plays an important role as a
gathering place to preach a message, and in the hands
ofan extremist religious leader it can become a centre of
religious indoctrination that preaches a message of
intolerance and hatred towards those not supporting the
leader’s particular interpretation of Islam. The spread of
literature (written and audio), the organising of Muslim
Youth meetings and the use of mass media are some of
the ongoing projects used to spread an extremist agenda.
What is important to understand in this regard is that this
strategy is a slow process that works over a period of time
and as a result does not attract the attention of moderate
Muslims or security forces.
These organisations filled a vacuum created by the
inability of the Kenyan state to provide basic services, as
well as by disorganised Shafi’i leaders and moderate
Muslim scholars whom the Salafists accused of
mismanaging Muslim community-based projects and being
‘compromised’ by their association with the Kenyan state.
Through the distribution of financial assistance from Middle
Eastern-backed charity organisations driven by individuals
with an extremist agenda, ordinary people become
important targets of the drive to spread extremism.
Byfulfilling the basic needs of ordinary people, these
institutions and individuals in effect ‘buy’ support and
lo ya lty.
Islamist extremist movements are known to use the
following issues to enhance their foothold:
Poverty and unemployment
The growing gulf between rich and poor
Inadequate government services
Political corruption
Perceived government subservience to US demands,
which leads to anti-US and anti-Western sentiments.
Islamists deal with these issues through a comprehensive
critique of modern life and argue persuasively that a return
to core religious values would bring social justice, good
government and a higher level of moral life, which would
put Muslims in touch with their glorious past.
After taking over the affairs of established Muslim
organisations, the new Salafist movement adopts a
pragmatic approach that includes providing direct support
to religious institutions (mosques and madrassas) in
addition to social services to local Muslim communities.
Inthe process of adopting a dominant position, the
Salafists have dealt harshly with anyone who opposes their
activities, responding to such opposition with an elaborate
propaganda machinery that includes using the mosque
and other religious infrastructure to incite unsuspecting
Muslims against their opponents. They go as far as
infiltrating and undermining moderate Muslim organisations
by invoking the Wahhabi doctrine that denounces the
classical Sunni schools of Islam as ‘impurities and
innovations’. This ‘take-over’ strategy has been made
possible through the following: Middle Eastern financial
assistance, and the influx of imams and scholars who
conduct regular visits to Saudi Arabia and other Middle
Eastern countries to collect funds.
Against this background a number of study groups
appear to be flourishing in many mosques in Kenya. While
religious freedom is any person’s right, the unfortunate
19An neli Bo thA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
reality is that some mosques and smaller religious groups
may harbour a small number of extremists whose sole
responsibility is to identify regular visitors to the mosque
and approach them with the intention of recruiting them to
attend their ‘classes’.
This is where new recruits undergo indoctrination
through lectures presented by scholars who subscribe to
the Salafist doctrine. Through this strategy, extremists have
also established cells in institutions of higher learning,
particularly universities, and have penetrated professional
bodies and online discussion groups. This has led to the
mushrooming of purely religious online discussions in
Kenya and the East African region, the main aim of which is
to demonstrate that cer tain Islamic schools of thought are
wrong and not worth following. They also discuss
socioeconomic issues, lack of opportunities for the
ever-growing youth population, ‘injustices’ and the political
marginalisation of Muslims, and engage broadly in global
jihadi discourses.
Kenyan national identity
When talking to Kenyan Muslims, especially in the coastal
region, one notices a growing perception of being treated
as second-rate citizens. People complained and gave
examples that despite being born and regarded as Kenyan
nationals, fellow Kenyans and especially police officers
treat them as ‘foreigners’. Particularly as a result of the
growing insecurity in Kenya since the intervention of
Kenyan forces in Somalia, Muslim people are told to ‘go
home’, are often disregarded as fellow Kenyans by
government officials and arbitrarily arrested.
Associated with this perception of not belonging to the
broader Kenyan populace is the reality that Somali
nationals, including Kenyan-Somalis, are suspected of
being ‘terrorists’ and treated as such. For example, Kenyan
nationals turned against and attacked Somali and Kenyan-
Somali nationals following the detonation of an explosive
device on 18November 2012 in Eastleigh, Nairobi. This
was, however, not the first occasion on which people had
retaliated against Somalis: on 30 September 2012 an angry
mob armed with sticks and stones attacked Somalis living
in Eastleigh after a grenade attack on St Polycarp Church
killed one child and injured nine others. During this incident
at least 13 Somalis were injured and property was
Fighting an often-unidentifiable enemy that uses the
masses as a place to hide and from which to strike and
then disappear is extremely frustrating. However, lashing
out against the collective is not only ineffective, but is also
counter-productive. In effect, a real danger exists that
those not involved in af fected communities might see the
need to defend themselves against the ‘other’, thus driving
individuals to extremism.
In addition to countering radicalisation, the Kenyan
government needs to initiate a constructive nation-building
campaign. Following post-election violence in 2007 and in
light of the way in which politicians used the ethnic divide
to secure votes in the 2013 elections,72 it is clear that the
religious divide is not the only factor extremists can use to
enable radicalisation.
Counter-terrorism initiatives
The effectiveness of counter-terrorism initiatives depends
largely on the level of cooperation between government
forces and local communities. When explaining the
influence of counter-terrorism strategies on conditions
thatare conducive to terrorism, Kofi Annan stated:
Past cases show that Governments that resort
toexcessive use of force and indiscriminate
repression when countering terrorism risk
strengthening the support base for terrorists among
the general population. Such measures generally
invite counter-violence, undermine the legitimacy of
counter-terrorism measures and play into the hands
of terrorists.73
Political factors have pushed Muslim youths to join
extremist groups as a counter-reaction to or in retaliation
against what they see as ‘collective punishment’ driven by
a misguided perception around the world, Kenya included,
that all Muslims are terrorists or potential terrorists. Since
the anti-terrorist campaign began in Kenya following the
USembassy bombings in 1998, many Muslim youths have
been arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated on suspicion of
being engaged in terrorist activities, which is part of a wider
pattern that intensified after the terrorist attacks in the US
on 11 September 2001.
For Muslim youths who feel
marginalised and 'guilty
of terrorism until proven
otherwise', joining extremist
groups is virtually accepted
Consequently, Muslim youths in Kenya feel marginalised
and that there is no justice for them in Kenyan society,
which declares every Muslim ‘guilty of terrorism until
proven otherwise’. Joining extremist groups for such
youths is, therefore, a vir tually accepted or expected
option. They are already viewed as terrorists, whether they
are or not, so in their mind it makes no difference if they
actually become terrorists.
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm20
Strategies based on mass arrests, racial profiling, etc.
have often proved to be counterproductive. Also, a
police-led criminal justice response to terrorism is more
effective than a military response. A prominent recent
example occurred following the killing of three soldiers in
November 2012 in Garissa. After the incident, the attackers
reportedly fled to the Bumuila Mzuri area, resulting in
troops being sent there to pursue them. These troops
burnt markets and opened fire on a school, leaving civilians
dead, including a local chief, women and children.74 This
incident opened debate on how the state should respond
to a very challenging security threat.
The security forces have experienced constant attacks
since Kenya’s intervention in Somalia, making it difficult not
to be drawn into retaliating rather than acting within the law.
However, the following basic human rights are provided for
under the new Constitution and should guide the way in
which the state and its security forces prevent and combat
Article 21: All State organs and all public officers have
the duty to address the needs of vulnerable groups
within society, including women, older members of
society, persons with disabilities, children, youth,
members of minority or marginalised communities,
and members of particular ethnic, religious or cultural
Article 27(1): Every person is equal before the law and
has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of
the law.
Article 29: Every person has the right to freedom and
securit y of the pe rson, wh ich inc lude s the rig ht not to be—
(a) deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just
(b) detained without trial, except during a state of
emergency, in which case the detention is
subject to Article 58;
(c) subjected to any form of violence from either
public or private sources;
(d) subjected to torture in any manner, whether
physical or psychological;
Article 32:
(1) Every person has the right to freedom of
conscience, religion, thought, belief and
(2) Every person has the right, either individually or
in community with others, in public or in
private, to manifest any religion or belief
through worship, practice, teaching or
observance, including observance of a day of
(3) A person may not be denied access to any
institution, employment or facility, or the
enjoyment of any right, because of the person’s
belief or religion.75
Putting these ideals into practice requires substantial
commitment on the part of state structures and agencies
responsible for safety to not treat members of other
communities (whether religious or ethnic) differently and to
avoid racial profiling, arbitrary arrest and torture. Not only
are these activities illegal, but degrading treatment will also
marginalise people and drive them to extremism.
Internal/personal factors
Internal or personal interpretations of the external
environment are influenced by psychological
considerations that affect political socialisation. General
factors such as the Internet, prisons, mosques or
churches, the role of family, and friendship ties need to be
taken into consideration.
Central to this is a search for identity. It is an unfortunate
reality that a person who is unsure of their identity can
easily be manipulated. In these cases the identity of an
organisation can become the identity of an individual.
According to Post, ‘[b]elonging to the terrorist group
becomes … the most important component of [the
individual’s] psychological identity’,76 while Johnson and
Friedman make the same point: ‘[M]embership in a terrorist
organisation provides a sense of identity or belonging for
those personalities whose underlying sense of identity is
fla wed.’77 One can refer in this regard to a collective
identity, where individual identities are replaced by a sense
of being part of something bigger. Taylor and Louis point to
the difficulty of establishing such an identity in a
disadvantaged community:
… young people find themselves at a time in their
life when they are looking to the future with the
hope of engaging in meaningful behaviour that will
be satisfying and get them ahead. Their objective
circumstances including opportunities for
advancement are virtually non-existent; they find
some direction for their religious collective identity
but the desperately disadvantaged state of their
community leaves them feeling marginalised and
lost without a clearly defined collective identity.78
Role of the family
The saying that a village raises a child is most relevant in
the fight against radicalisation. Starting with the immediate
family, the broader community has a role to play in teaching
children acceptance and respect, despite being different.
The family plays an essential role (positive or negative)
throughout any person’s life (although it is most important
before the child reaches school-going age). The family is
considered as the first step in the transmission of
21An neli Bo thA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
fundamental values. It is therefore to be expected that the
absence of a parent will play an important role in the later
radicalisation process. In particular, when the young
person experiences abandonment or lack of belonging,
these feelings might contribute to making him/her
susceptible to a father figure or the need to belong to a
group where he/she will experience acceptance and a
feeling of belonging. The role of the family includes
It teaches acceptable behaviour.
It provides an individual with a personal identity and a
sense of national loyalty (belonging).
The child also becomes aware of ideologies associated
with the authorities and learns obedience to the state or
political authority. By forming basic loyalties and
identifying with political systems, ‘the child also learns to
sort people into social categories – linguistic, racial,
class, tribal, occupational or geographical … Children
learn to classify people according to certain
characteristics and to behave differently toward them
depending on how they are classified … Learning his
society’s category system and identif ying with particular
categories are not in themselves political orientations.
They ... serve as important reference and interpretation
poi n ts.’79 Dawson and Prewitt further explain that the
first loyalties and identification are the strongest and
most difficult to change: ‘These feelings serve as the
foundation upon which subsequently acquired
orientations are built. Political events and experiences
later in life are interpreted within the context of these
basic orientations. They serve as “political eyeglasses”
through which the individual perceives and makes
meaningful the world of politics.80
The bond (or lack thereof) between parent and child will
play an extremely important role in developing a
person’s self-esteem, sense of identity, personality and
emotional health.
It is therefore not surprising that when analysing the family
history of many of those who are susceptible to the
al-Shabaab network in Kenya, it is clear that many lacked a
father figure. It is by no means a prerequisite for
radicalisation, but the void left by the lack of such a figure
is clearly an issue.
A variety of countermeasures involving multiple actors are
required to successfully counter the message of
extremists. The first step is addressing the factors or
circumstances enabling radicalisation. One of the greatest
mistakes governments and security agencies often make is
to copy other countries or regions in this regard. This does
not imply that countries cannot borrow from other
successes, but they should primarily understand that the
circumstances of each country are unique. What drives
individuals to extremism in Europe is different to what one
experiences in Africa. Fur thermore, even within the same
continent, one cannot compare Algeria with Kenya, or even
Kenya with Uganda. Understandably, Kenya and Uganda
are neighbouring countries and circumstances in one will
impact on the other, but the local dynamics in each country
are different. The following sub-sections suggest initiatives
to counter the factors that enable radicalisation in Kenya.
None of the following offers an instant cure and each
requires continuous, dedicated commitment over a long
period of time. Nor should each topic be dealt with
separately, but should rather be seen as part of a
Socioeconomic challenges
Socioeconomic development is called for not only in Kenya
but the entire continent. As explained above, poverty alone
is not driving people to radicalisation, but poor
socioeconomic circumstances undoubtedly make
individuals more susceptible to it. A key factor is the
unequal opportunity for upward social ability as a result of
religious, ethnic or political differences.
In Kenya the difference between Nairobi and the coastal
region is unmistakable. In the coastal region, the contrast
between luxury hotels and the poverty of ordinary Kenyans
living near them is equally striking. While protecting income
from tourism, much can be done to help local businesses
benefit financially from this resource. For example, hotels
could buy fresh produce from local markets instead of
importing it.
Creating new jobs is not the responsibility of only
government; it requires innovative thinking by ordinary
people. However, government can create an environment
that encourages innovation. By offering tax breaks and
low-interest loans to start changing the mentality of future
entrepreneurs at school, much can be done to encourage
and equip young people not only to become educated, but
also to contribute to the financial stability of the country
and to their own well-being.
In addition to encouraging economic development,
thegovernment also has the primary responsibility of
providing basic services to all people, but especially to
communities regarded as marginalised. State absence in
providing health care, education, infrastructure, etc. creates
a void that other role-players are willing to fill. Many of
these non-governmental organisations, charities and
foreign governments provide valuable assistance to
communities in need and should be allowed to continue
with their activities under careful supervision. However,
governments need to realise that providing these services
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm22
is essentially their responsibility, and that allowing others to
take over this responsibility could come at a price. Since
the complete absence of government allows questionable
elements to gain support by ‘buying’ the loyalty of ordinary
people, a possible solution might be forthe government to
form partnerships with these non-governmental
organisations, charities and foreign governments and work
with them to deliver services.
Political representation and participation
In light of the above discussion, initiatives are needed to
re-establish Kenya’s national identity and put in place
constructive programmes to enable effective political
participation with visible impact.
The concept of a Kenya for all Kenyans recognises
diversity, but the real test lies in the way in which individuals
from different backgrounds treat others. Government can
set an example in this regard. Individual politicians need to
accept responsibility for what they say and do that divides
society; equally, it is essential not to use tribal affiliation to
secure votes. This strategy divides people in the long run.
The electorate, for their part, need to be educated that they
should vote for policies, not tribal affiliations.
Additionally, political parties based on a religion,
especially Islam, are treated with suspicion because they
have been used for ulterior motives, but also as a result of
a lack of information and understanding. One of the factors
that has enabled Salafi preachers and missionaries to
successfully penetrate the social fabric of the Kenyan
Muslim community is the obvious disconnect between that
community and the state. In this regard, the key issue is the
weakness of existing Muslim political mobilisation
structures and their ineffectiveness in representing the
interests of the countr y’s Muslim community.
Currently, the main quasi-political organisations focused
on matters affecting Muslims include the National Union of
Kenya Muslims, the Young Muslim Association, the Islamic
Foundation, the Muslim Education and Welfare Association,
the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, the National
Muslim Leaders Forum, and the umbrella body, the
Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims. All these organisations
tend to adopt an exclusively Muslim identity such that they
only seem to pursue an agenda where ‘Muslims speak to
fellow Muslims’, without acknowledging that Muslims in
Kenya are a minority and need to pursue an agenda where
‘Muslims speak to the rest of Kenyan society’. These
organisations have also suffered from poor management
and weak leadership, which adversely affect their
legitimacy within the broader Muslim community.
Another factor is that extremists in the region have an
additional advantage over moderate Muslim scholars by
having established regional networks that provide
resources and organisational capacity to sustain their
operations. Expansionist by design, extremists have been
successful in intimidating, marginalising and silencing
moderate Muslim voices by using recruited youth to lead
rebellions in mosque committees and other Muslim welfare
organisations. Moderate Muslim scholars and activists are
simply being disregarded and isolated. Because of limited
capacity to mobilise, inadequate financial resources,
threats of violence and negative campaigns against
moderate ulamas (Muslim scholars recognised as expert in
Islamic sacred law and theology), extremists have
succeeded in intimidating or even silencing moderate
Muslim scholars. Consequently, the few moderate Muslim
scholars who support a democratic culture, including
recognition of human rights, respect for diversity,
acceptance of secular laws, and opposition to terrorism,
lack the capacity, organisation, and strategies needed to
counter the ever-growing influence of extremists.
The absence of a moderate
voice that speaks for the
majority will fuel the
perception among non-
Muslims that the actions
of extremists represent the
entire Muslim community
In the absence of a political party or parties able to
articulate feelings of marginalisation and frustration within
the framework of the law, extremists will be the only voice
both Muslims and non-Muslims hear. The absence of a
moderate voice that speaks for the majority will fur ther fuel
the perception among non-Muslims that the actions of
extremists represent the entire Muslim community. This
contributes to a vicious cycle of distrust and lack of
understanding on the part of non-Muslims, which in turn
results in Muslims being treated as ‘terrorists’ and second-
rate citizens, leading to marginalisation and possible
To counter these threats, policymakers should consider
the following recommendations:
A code of conduct should be developed for politicians
and public figures to guard against political, ethnic and
religious hate speech. An independent commission
could be established to investigate claims of abuse, in
line with Article 33 of the 2010 Constitution.
A position should be established in the Office of the
President to represent and speak for marginalised
23Ann eli Both A • iSS pAper 245 • Apri l 2013
communities in Kenya. This should not be a political
appointee, but rather someone who will be able to
advise the president on issues that could lead to
marginalisation among communities who are unable to
effectively express themselves. This person should also
be responsible for providing feedback to those needing
this information.
The government needs to provide professional and
technical assistance to Muslim scholars who preach
moderation and denounce extremism.
Education programmes should be started in schools,
government departments, and businesses to raise
awareness on diversity and respect for the background
and viewpoints of the ‘other’.
Open discussions and dialogue forums should be
established at the community level to oppose
underground networks such as Hizb-ul-Tahrir and other
Salafist and jihadist groups. It is essential that the
government supports religious authorities and
community members to take centre stage in order to
enhance their legitimacy and impact.
Connecting young people and the government
A possible success story is the Kenya Muslim Youth
Alliance (KMYA), established in November 2003. The KMYA
incorporates 153 youth-led community-based
organisations, student movements, young imams and
madrassa teachers. Established by young Muslim activists
who believed in ‘dialogue between Muslims and the rest of
the Kenya society’, the KMYA was established to address
the unique issues confronting young Muslims, because it is
they who are the main targets of recruitment by extremist
groups. In establishing the KMYA, its founders identified
poor leadership, weak institutions, radicalisation and
extremism, low levels of education, socioeconomic
exclusion and marginalisation, and lack of civic awareness
and participation as the main challenges confronting
Muslim youths in Kenya – challenges that make them feel
hopeless and, thus, vulnerable to the patronage of any
group that they come across.
Through civic awareness and participation programmes,
the KMYA seeks to create a platform through which
Muslims can understand what concepts such as
democracy, gender equality, human rights, freedom of
expression, religious tolerance and jihad really mean. In
essence, the KMYA seeks to address the misinterpretation
of these concepts by certain Muslim scholars who have
taken advantage of their patronage to confuse and mislead
Muslim youths into believing that concepts such as
democracy are anti-Islam.
By explaining the essential role of civil society
organisations in counter radicalisation, the KMYA has
repeatedly challenged extremist narratives through the
targeted use of media and the establishment of moderate
Muslim scholarship networks. On this score, one of the
issues that have contributed to the challenges confronting
young Muslims is the deliberate misrepresentation of
classical Islamic teachings by extremist Muslim scholars
and imams. In this regard, the KMYA has developed and
implemented a number of counter-radicalisation
programmes aimed at connecting young, marginalised
Muslims to civil society and relevant government
departments that deal with security and national cohesion.
International political developments
In an increasingly globalised world, international
developments will impact on what individuals involved in
radicalisation can use to recruit people in Kenya to commit
acts of terrorism. Instability in Somalia will remain a factor,
but beyond the Horn of Africa unresolved conflicts to which
Muslims are party can be used to rally support and
encourage recruitment to participate in hostilities.
Additionally, many Muslims are still very suspicious of
Western policies in and towards the Muslim world, and
view concepts such as democracy and human rights as an
insult to Islamic teachings and ploys by the ‘enemies of
Islam’ to undermine and weaken the religion. Moreover,
appreciating concepts such as democracy and human
rights is still a challenge because many Muslims, under the
influence of conservative ideology, are sceptical about
whether these are legitimate norms and values, and have
not yet internalised the ethos of human rights, democracy
and participatory governance. This is made worse by the
‘global war on terror’ and the push for democracy across
the world, which arouses scepticism among Muslims, who
see this as being in the interests of the West. Then there is
the double standard used by the West in its dealings with
the Muslim world: why don’t the Western powers that
preach democracy preach the same message to despotic
regimes in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East?
Extremist groups have picked up on these concerns and
used them to justif y resistance to Western-backed values
and activities.
Addressing these issues is not an easy matter and
completely beyond the control of Kenya alone. The solution
is to encourage critical thinking and open discussion on
sensitive topics. Failure to openly defuse misconceptions
and provide a dif ferent interpretation of international
developments will provide a foothold that extremists will
capitalise on.
Security apparatus
In answer to the growing terrorism threat, Kenya took steps
to establish a dedicated criminal justice response to
terrorism within the police through the establishment of the
Anti-Terrorism Police Unit. Although this unit has learned
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm24
valuable lessons since its creation, preventing and
combating terrorism extends well beyond a dedicated unit.
It starts with the overall perception that ordinary people
have of the entire security apparatus, followed by trust.
As in other East African countries, security institutions in
Kenya are generally weak and plagued with corruption,
both of which directly impact on trust: what assurances do
ordinary community members have that information they
provide will be protected and treated with the necessary
Community involvement is also a crucial component of
any strategy to prevent and combat terrorism. With this in
mind, the unfortunate reality is that ordinary people do not
know how and where to engage with those tasked with
preventing and combating terrorism. Allegations of racial,
religious or ethnic profiling, mass arrests, and torture are
additional stumbling blocks to building trust and
encouraging community involvement. Then there is the
suspicion on the part of security personnel if a community
member comes forward with information. Although
suspects might want to get close to those investigating
them in order to gather their own intelligence, security
officials still need to treat those coming forward with
information in a way that encourages ordinary people to
do so. This also applies to the way in which security
officials treat eyewitnesses. Even though terrorists use
their ability to blend with the population as one of their key
strengths, treating all people as suspects will have a
reverse effect on the building of community partnerships.
The reality is that if actions and words do not correlate, the
noblest intentions will go to waste. Politicians might call for
community involvement, but treating ordinary citizens as
the enemy will not go far in building community
partnerships. Similarly, saying that Muslims are not the
enemy, but treating all Muslims with suspicion will have a
reverse effect. The value of intelligence here is central to
identifying and investigating only those involved. Other
policy advice includes the following:
A training curriculum on cultural and religious diversity
should be designed for all police officers.
A direct line of communication should be established
between community and religious leaders and the local
police station. There should also be an alternative line of
communication to the area commander and provincial
commander for when abuses occur.
Similarly, instead of only calling for information,
communities should be informed of what the police
expect from them in terms of feedback on complaints
and new developments ordinary people should be
aware of. Ultimately, building partnerships and
communication is a two-way process.
Police officers should be trained to differentiate between
eyewitnesses and suspects, and to treat both so that
they will effectively assist in subsequent investigations.
Police officers should be trained to consider the new
Constitution not as an obstacle, but as an instrument to
assist and protect them. This will require that all existing
(and future) laws and operating procedures be tested
against the Constitution and supplemented with new
techniques and lessons designed to assist officers to
more effectively carry out their responsibilities.
A constructive relationship should be established
between police and prosecutors. Although both have
their respective responsibilities, by involving a
prosecutor early in an investigation, especially in
complex crimes such as terrorism, police officers will
realise that the prosecutor brings added advantages to
the investigation. Often, when the prosecutor is only
seen days before the case goes to court, the suspect
will not be convicted, not because he/she is innocent,
but because the docket was not complete, statements
were incomplete or absent, the wrong charges were
brought or the prosecutor was not prepared or
misunderstood the case. Many of these problems could
have been prevented or dealt with if a partnership based
on mutual respect existed.
For these policies to succeed, policymakers should
consider appointing specialised and dedicated
prosecutors for specialised crimes.
Internal factors
Radicalisation is not only sparked by external factors, but
also by who the person is, and how he/she develops. The
family plays an essential role in any person’s development.
Despite programmes to equip mothers or women in the
de-radicalisation process, people often disregard the
important role a father figure or an absent father figure plays
in radicalisation. In the profiles of suspects implicated in acts
of terrorism, an absent father figure was a recurring theme.
In their search for acceptance and guidance, it is to be
expected that these individuals will be susceptible to the
influence of a mentor or a person the individual concerned
looks up to. This is not to say that ever yone growing up
without a father will be radicalised, but rather that the
importance of both parents should be taken into
consideration. In addressing these challenges, the
government can play a role by developing healthy mentoring
programmes for families in which one parent isabsent.
Additionally, those at risk of being radicalised should be
identified as soon as possible. The way these individuals
will be treated will be crucial to the success of any long-
term de-radicalisation effort. It is especially here where
security officials need to work closely with families, the
broader community and social services via a
multidisciplinary approach.
25An neli Bot hA • iSS pAper 245 • Apr il 2013
Kenya is critical to the stability and regional development
ofthe entire Horn of Africa. Following the post-election
violence in 2007, it became apparent that Kenyans are
extremely divided. While diversity can be celebrated if
mutual respect exists, it can also destroy a country from
within if that respect is not present. How does this relate to
the radicalisation and vulnerability of Kenya’s youth? Young
people are at the centre, for they are not only Kenya’s
future leaders, but also Kenya’s future parents. They are
unfortunately also the easiest to manipulate and
operationalise into a collective.
The biggest threat to stability in Kenya will be if
extremists succeed in dividing Kenya between Muslim and
non-Muslim. The reality is that Islamist extremism on the
continent often manifests around issues that are a concern
to the Muslim community as a whole. These issues are
then ‘hijacked’ by Islamist militants with the ultimate goal of
converting moderate Muslims to their interpretation of the
world. In order to achieve this, the Islamist militant will
endeavour to exploit existing sub-standard socioeconomic
conditions, accompanied with feelings of frustration and
alienation from the government. In attempting to secure the
success of this strategy, extremists capitalise on the
government’s inability to provide basic services and offer
an alternative. Creating or infiltrating bona fide charity
organisations in areas with poor socioeconomic conditions
and uplifting the community is a sure way to win the
general support of ordinary people and ‘buy’ loyalty.
The biggest threat to
stability in Kenya will be
if extremists succeed in
dividing Kenya between
Muslim and non-Muslim
The new Constitution recognises freedom of religion.
Although ever ything should be done to protect not only this
right but all basic human rights, these rights also bring with
them responsibilities, the most important of which is the
responsibility to respect the rights of others. Irrespective of
your family heritage, being a citizen means that you are
equal not only before the law, but also as a human being in
relation to others. This calls for introspection on the part of
the police officer stopping and searching a person
because he looks Somali or the Muslim throwing a hand
grenade into a church because he sees Christians as the
‘enemy’. Both of these examples touch on collective
punishment based on perceptions. Even more challenging
is the fact that most perceptions are completely wrong,
especially that Somali nationals or Somali-Kenyans are
responsible for attacks in Kenya or that Kenya is an
innocent bystander when acts of terrorism are committed
on its soil.
Addressing and breaking down these perceptions
extends well beyond the responsibility of the police or the
Kenyan government, but the government can set an
example and provide some of the tools to prevent
radicalisation and enable de-radicalisation. Importantly,
there is no quick fix for the level of radicalisation seen
ASSeSSing the v uln erABilit y of Ken yAn youthS to r Adic AliSAtion And ex trem iSm26
1. Interview with Hassan Ole Naado, Kenya Muslim Youth
Alliance, Mombasa, 24–25 April 2012.
2. Ibid.
3. USIS Washington File, United States District Court
Southern District of New York, indictment of Usama bin
Laden, S(10) 98 Cr. 1023 (LBS), 6 November 1998,
(accessed 10 August 2007).
4. W Sammy, Coastline, porous borders expose Kenya to
terrorists, All Africa, 4 December 2002.
5. D Benjamin and S Simon, The age of sacred terror,
NewYork: Random House, 2002, 28.
6. USIS Washington File, United States District Court
Southern District of New York, indictment of Usama bin
7. M Lacey and B Weiser, After attack, Kenya traces
al-Qaeda’s trail in East Africa, The New York Times,
1December 2002.
8. A England, FBI’s most wanted leader of al-Qaeda cell
indicted for US embassy bombing escaped, Associated
Press, 13 June 2004.
9. D McGror y, R Ford and X Rice, Search for bombers
centres on East Africa connection, The Times, 26 July
10. BBC Monitoring Newsfile, Kenyan report says 3 May
Somalia bombing linked to terror networks, 10 May 2005.
11. A Babo, Small village with a reputation for terrorism,
AllAfrica, 8 March 2004.
12. A England, Kenya struggles to tackle threat of terrorism:
seven years after the US embassy blast, the East African
nation is still trying to find effective counter measures,
Financial Times, 29 July 2005.
13. W Maclean, Israelis attacked in Kenya – 11 die, al-Qaeda
blamed, Reuters, 28 November 2002.
14. BBC Monitoring Newsfile, Kenyan police say ‘key’ suspect
in Mombasa terror attacks has Yemeni links, 27 December
15. Xinhua News Agency, Petrol bombs gut nightclub in
Kenya’s port city of Mombasa, 18 December 2002.
16. UNSC (United Nations Security Council), Report of the
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18July 2011, 136.
17. Ibi d, 13 7.
18. Ibid.
19. BBC Africa, Four civilians killed following attack on
peacekeepers in Somali capital, 9 April 2008.
20. Kibiwott Koross, Chronology of terrorist attacks in Kenya,
The Star, 7 August 2012,
21. Al Jazeera, Kenya sends troops to attack al-Shabab,
24October 2011,
011/10/20111016115410991692.html (accessed 30 October
20 11) .
22. Koross, Chronology of terrorist attacks in Kenya.
23. Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Four wounded in Kenya
grenade attack: police, 19 July 2012,
police (accessed 26 March 2013).
24. BBC Africa, Deadly Kenya grenade attack hits children in
church, 30 September 2012, /news/
world-africa-19776747 (accessed 26 March 2013).
25. M Khayat, Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen and Kenyan Muslim
Youth Center strengthen ties, Middle East Media
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870, 12 August 2012, 1, /report /en/
print6581.htm#_edn5 (accessed 26 March 2013).
26. Bosire Boniface, Muslim Youth Centre aims to create
religious strife in Kenya, analysts say, Sabahi, 22 August
articles/features/2012/08/22/feature-01 (accessed 26
March 2013).
27. Khayat, Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen and Kenyan Muslim
Youth Center strengthen ties, 1.
28. Boniface, Muslim Youth Centre aims to create religious
strife in Kenya, analysts say.
30. Sabahi, Muslim Youth Centre vows violent response
tokilling of its leader Rogo, 27 August 2012,
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31. Zaddock Angira, Police name 15 key Shabaab fugitives,
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32. Abdilatif Maalim, Kenyan civilians injured by Al Shabaab
mortars, Somalia Report, 16 March 2011, http://www.
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ISS paper 241 • NOVeMBer 2012
ISS Paper N o 244
Following the inter vention of the Kenya Defence Forces in
Somalia in October 2011 in reaction to the increase in
kidnappings on the Kenyan coast, the threat of terrorism
inKenya increased considerably. Initially the perception
was that the threat originated from Somalia and that Somali
nationals or Somali-Kenyans consequently committed
attacks in Kenya. As arrests were made, Kenya was
confronted with the reality that Kenyan nationals were
responsible for the majority of these attacks. This sparked
introspection and the need to understand where this threat
originated. This paper aims to provide an overview of the
threat of terrorism in Kenya; to consider the drivers of
radicalisation, especially among the youth; and to propose
counter-strategies that policymakers and security officials
might adopt to prevent and counter radicalisation.
Anneli Botha has been a senior researcher on terrorism at
the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria since 2003.
After completing an honours degree in International Politics
she joined Crime Intelligence in the South African Police
Service in 1993, focusing inter alia on terrorism and
religious extremism. Anneli has a Masters in Political
Studies from the Rand Afrikaans University. Her specific
areas of interest are the underlying causes of terrorism,
radicalisation and counter-terrorism strategies.
The publication of this paper was made
possible with the support of the governments
of the Netherlands and Norway.
The Insti tute for Security Studies (ISS) is a le ading Afri can policy
research and traini ng organis ation. The vision of the ISS i s a peacefu l
and prosp erous Africa for all its p eople. The m ission an d overall goal
of the ISS is to advance huma n securit y in Africa through evid ence-
based policy advice, technical support and capacity building.
© 2013, Insti tute for Sec urity Studies
Copyrig ht in the volum e as a whole is ve sted in the Institute for
Securi ty Studie s, and no par t may be reproduced in who le or
in part w ithout the ex press per mission, in writing, of both the
authors and the publishers.
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of
the Institute, its trustees, members of the Council or donors.
Authors contribute to ISS publications in their personal capacity.
Published by the Institute for Security Studies
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... To address issues with declining trust in government, a trend not restricted to the United States, the homeland security establishment should prioritize eliminating (mis-)(dis-)information spread by extremist actors and dissolving the ability of illicit networks to unduly sway public perception and, by extension, governmental policy. This aligns with an overwhelming body of literature that has identified distrust in government as a recruitment mechanism for extremist campaigns (e.g., Botha, 2013;Braizat et al., 2017). ...
Given that trust in government is a critical feature of a well-functioning democracy, research into its determinants has long been a priority among public opinion scholars. The consensus in the literature is that short-term factors drive the ebbs and flows of public trust, and a climate of mistrust has significant consequences on the government's ability to deliver on policies and enforce the law. Despite decades of extensive research on public trust, changing circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic support the need to investigate the factors shaping trust in this distinct period. This article, using data from the American National Election Study, explores how economic, social, and political anxieties pervasive throughout the pandemic influence trust in the United States government. Findings from ordered logistic regression analyses indicate that public trust in government is associated with views of the government's COVID-19 response, beliefs about the state of the country and government corruption, economic anxieties, and concerns about election fraud and the status of American democracy. Findings also reveal that sentiments toward institutions—including the police and the Center for Disease Control—contribute to variability in public trust. The implications of these findings for criminal justice research and policy are also considered.
... RAND (2018) study notes that there is little evidence of engagement by social media users with BH within Nigeria and the African region (CLEEN, 2014;RAND, 2018). This departs from studies in the West and in Kenya where the internet is the major source of radicalisation in youths (Schmid 2013;Botha 2013). ...
Full-text available
The Media plays an important role on how terrorism related information is reported and analysed to meet its need and that of the public. Social media on the other hand, has provided a new avenue for terrorist groups to do their own media without any restrictions on what to sensor thus, leading to terrorist propaganda, recruitment and otherwise aims and objectives online. On that note, the paper investigates the role of the media/social media in the policing of terrorism in Nigeria. The National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) spells out that the policing of terrorism in the country will operate under the rule of law and that media sanitisation will be a requirement of the strategy if progress is to be achieved in the fight to prevent and disrupt terrorism in Nigeria. However, repressive measures led to various journalists arrest and detention for reporting on terrorism issues in the country calling into question the effectiveness of the Nigeria counter terrorism strategy.
... Despite the precise number of Kenyans radicalised into Al-Shabaab is unknown and subject to debate, 1 most of the sources agree to consider them as the largest group of foreign fighters within the organisation, pointing to Kenya as a major site of contention in the fight against transnational terrorism (see e.g. Botha 2013;Allen 2015;Jebet 2016;Odhiambo 2018). In this regard, a 2018 study involving 190 youths and 23 community leaders from Nairobi and the counties of Garissa, Kwale, Kilifi, Isiolo and Mombasa even discovered that 70 per cent of the respondents had at least one relative, close friend or neighbour engaged in violent extremism (Miriri 2020). ...
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In the last three decades, East Africa has turned into a crucial arena in the fight against transnational Islamist terrorism, harbouring Al-Qa’ida’s leadership and subsequently giving rise to one of the most active organisations, Al-Shabaab. Much has been written on jihadism in the region. However, the scholarship still lacks a comprehensive historical analysis shedding light on the dynamics that have favoured its survival and development. This article fills such a gap, reviewing the evolution of transnational Islamist terrorism in East Africa from the early 1990s up to the present day. The article sheds light on the realpolitik of East African terrorism, showing how militants have consistently sought to adapt to and exploit (1) the political morphology of the region and (2) emerging tensions between local groups and national authorities to survive setbacks, expand their influence and gain supporters. The article concludes by arguing that tackling social and political fractures on the ground is of fundamental importance to effectively dismantle terror networks and fight instability in the region.
... Several reports emphasise increasing tensions among local communities facing the intensification of counter-terrorism raids (e.g., OSF 2013b; HAKI Africa 2016; Ndung'u, Salifu and Sigsworth 2017). Interviews with Muslim people show resentment towards national security authorities, blamed for "automatically label[ling] the Muslims as the terrorist" (quoted in Shetret, Schwartz and Cotter 2013: 10) and treating them "like second-class citizens", ignoring their centuriesold history in the coastal territories (quoted in Blair 2014; see alsoBotha 2013). Mass arrests, violence ...
Since the beginning of the war on terror, the US has intensified security efforts in Africa, promoting regional initiatives and increasing bilateral cooperation with local governments to fight terrorism on the ground. Yet, despite Washington’s attempts, Islamist violence on the continent is on the rise. What is more, several of US African partners have been criticised for overstepping legal boundaries in the conduct of counter-terrorism operations, committing human rights violations against African people. This study fills a longstanding gap in the literature by exploring whether, and above all, how post-9/11 US security policies may have a negative impact on radicalisation in African states, increasing dynamics culminating with mobilisation into terrorism. Relying on a critical theoryinspired research orientation, it sets up an innovative and interdisciplinary framework, shifting the emphasis to local politics as a determinant for the impact of US policies and pointing to dynamics of violent interaction between African states and their population as a crucial dimension of radicalisation. Incorporating analytical elements from the research on remote warfare, security assistance and the role of agency, and social movements, the proposed framework develops around a three-step causal mechanism hypothesised to connect US policies to the increase in radicalisation on the ground. The mechanism posits that post-9/11 US security policies have a negative impact in African states characterised by the threat of terrorism and the use of indiscriminate repression against suspect groups by: 1) leading to the establishment of a partnership relationship within the framework of remote warfare; 2) from the partnership relationship, African states gain resources and room for manoeuvre to implement indiscriminate repression; 3) indiscriminate repression causes an increase in radicalisation in African states. To test such a mechanism, the research is designed as a case study, focusing on post-9/11 US security policies in Kenya by using theory-testing process tracing to identify the case-specific manifestations of the three steps. The research provides extensive evidence in support of the hypothesised mechanism in the case of Kenya, showing how US remote intervention, based on the provision of indirect support, has inadvertently contributed to fuelling the repressive campaign conducted by local security authorities against Muslims and ethnic Somalis, pushing the latter into the hands of the terrorist group Al Shabaab. Such findings have significant implications, pointing to the need of context-sensitive security policies acknowledging the political drivers of terrorism and the limits of remote warfare in Kenya. At the same time, they make a theoretical contribution, setting the foundation for a more thorough approach towards the study of US efforts in Africa which, by overcoming divisions in the discipline, could help shape more sustainable and effective security policies.
... The Kenyan youth are an upcoming generation identified by a number of unique characteristics. They have experienced ethnic, religious, post-election, social and economic conflicts that shape their socio-political views and their trust or distrust with political leadership and judicial agencies (Botha, 2013). These feelings of skepticism lead to frustration and, thus act as push factors into radicalization. ...
... In most cases, attempts by the criminal justice system to curb radicalization have been unsuccessful, sometimes even the criminal justice officers themselves falling victims [17]. However, while existing research have identified gaps within the criminal justice system in addressing radicalization, violent extremsm and terrorism [18]., Haki Africa [19], Wilner [20] Botha [21], there is dearth of research inquiry as to how practices in the criminal justice systems may contrtibute to youth radicalization. ...
Full-text available
The criminal justice system is at the centre of curtailing radicalization and terrorism. Despite many youths having been arrested, prosecuted or even eliminated, youth radicalization seems to be on the rise which points to the fact that the very criminal justice system contributes to youth radicalization. Anchored on the social identity theory, the criminal justice theory and the psychoanalysis theory, the study investigated the contribution of the criminal justice system to the emergence of radicalization among the youth. A descriptive survey design was adopted. The target population was 320. Stratified simple random sampling was used to select respondents. A sample size of 96 was derived representing 30% of the target population. Both primary and secondary data were used. Validity and reliability of data was tested using Cronbach’s alpha. Data was analyzed and presented using descriptive statistics; percentages, frequencies, means and standard deviations. The research found that police show low level of professionalism while dealing with the problem of radicalization in the study area: suspects are profiled and either arrested and charged in court or arrested and never to be seen again (forced disappearances). That the police do not engage the community when dealing with the problem of radicalization. The study also found out that the legal framework on radicalization and terrorism is a bit weak. The study concludes that the Criminal Justice System is part of the problem of radicalization in the study area. Therefore, there is need for the CJS to change its tactics in solving the problem. There is need to change the hard tactics which are mainly militaristic. The law has to be enforced and those who commit criminal acts must face the full force of the law Key words: criminal justice system, radicalization, extremism
Full-text available
This article investigates the online strategies of youth recruitment for Al-Shabaab from a Kenyan context through the two interconnecting sub-objectives: First, to explore existing online strategies used by Al-Shabaab for radicalising and recruiting youth; second, to determine factors on youth vulnerability to online recruitment and radicalisation for Al-Shabaab.
This study examines factors influencing youth from Majengo in Mombasa County in Kenya to join the Al-Shabaab violent extremist group. Drawing on empirical data and social movement theory, the study finds several contextual factors, including religious ideology, social media, and texts, as aiding the radicalisation process. The study findings are consistent with the existing literature in the sub-field of terrorism studies indicating the non-linearity of the radicalisation journey. The study is informed by insights from 30 in-depth qualitative interviews carried out between 2016 and 2019 in Mombasa with religious leaders, academic experts, community members and various government agencies. Purposive and convenience sampling techniques were used to collect qualitative data, which were analysed thematically. Secondary data was collected from books, academic journals, newspapers and grey literature. The study contributes to noted gaps in terrorism studies on the value of primary data in the analysis of political violence.
Full-text available
The threat of terrorism in Kenya has been enduring. In 1980, the Norfolk hotel in Nairobi killed 20 people and injured 80 more. In 1998, the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania was bombed killing 200 people and injuring hundreds more. In 2002, a car carrying explosives crashed into the paradise hotel in Mombasa resulting in the deaths of over fifteen people. All these attacks were linked back to various terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda. Since 2011, Al-Shabaab, a sub-sect of Al-Qaeda, has committed over two-hundred atrocities and attacks in the country resulting in hundreds of deaths, while injuring and displacing lots more. Despite these attacks mostly having male perpetrators, female involvement with the group, whether directly or indirectly, has been on a rise. In a society that seldom associates women with violence, this rising number could be a key indicator of a change in extremism behavior. This research aims to uncover the following questions: What are the contributing factors leading to an increase in female involvement? How are they recruited? How do the female-based networks of recruitment operate? and, What roles do women play in Al-Shabaab? Key Words: Al-Shabaab, radicalization, recruitment, female involvement, Kenya, terrorism
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This chapter begins with a definition of terrorism and a brief review of some of the more traditional applications of social psychology theory. The authors then outline a broadly based theory of the self and explore the implications of the theory for the recruitment of terrorists. The final section examines some of the important social norms that facilitate and regulate the behavior of terrorists. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)
Full-text available
Despite its economic and cultural potential, the Kenya Coast finds itself in a marginal position. This collective volume traces the causes behind this situation and analyses it from different angles: political, economic and social. Most of the papers included in this volume were first presented at a workshop in Mombasa in August 1996. Contributions: The Kenya Coast: a regional study, by Dick Foeken, Jan Hoorweg and R.A. Obudho; The Kenya Coast in national perspective, by Henk Meilink; Physical resources and infrastructure, by Dick Foeken; Marine resources, by Peninah Aloo; Current environmental problems, by Mwakio P. Tole; Population dynamics, by John Obwa Wakajummah; Urbanization, by R.A. Obudho; The peoples, by John Middleton; Colonial history, by Frederick Cooper; Contemporary politics, by Thomas P. Wolf; Religion and society, by David C. Sperling; Agriculture, by Henk Waaijenberg; Food marketing, by Tjalling Dijkstra; Industrialization, by Wafula S. Masai; Tourism, by Isaac Sindiga; Employment, by Gerrishon K. Ikiara; The educational marginalisation of coastal Kenya, by Thomas Owen Eisemon; Health and illness, by J. Ties Boerma and F. John Bennett; Food consumption and nutrition, by Wijnand Klaver and Robert Mwadime; Gender issues, by Winnie V. Mitullah; The experience with land settlement, by Jan Hoorweg; Housing, by G.C. Macoloo; Water resources, by George O. Krhoda; Dairy development, by Piet Leegwater and Jan Hoorweg; Port development: growth, competition and revitalization, by Brian Hoyle; Conclusion: culture, resources and development in the Kenya Coast, by Jan Hoorweg, Dick Foeken and R.A. Obudho
A common theme in comparative studies of the psychology of terrorism is the need of marginal alienated individuals to join a group of like-minded individuals with a similar world view. The need to belong gives particular force to the power of group dynamics. Paradoxically, a policy of reactive retaliation with the goal of deterring terrorist acts may instead reinforce the mindset of the terrorist. Identifying the locus of control is crucial for estimating the effects of counter-terrorist policies on a terrorist group. The most effective anti-terrorist policy is one that makes the terrorist career less attractive to potential members, facilitates terrorists leaving the group, and reduces external support. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Behaviorists have come to no consensus and developed no clear theoretical framework to explain membership in terrorist groups. Psychoanalytic self-psychology, as developed by H. Kohut (1978), can provide such a framework. The terrorist group may be understood as serving a number of functions for its members, all of which are designed to promote identity and self-cohesion. Such a formulation implies a degree of self-, or narcissistic, pathology in many members. A self-psychology formulation is presented to explain the function that membership in terrorist groups serves for narcissistically vulnerable personalities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Kenyan report says 3 May Somalia bombing linked to terror networks
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Small village with a reputation for terrorism
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Kenya struggles to tackle threat of terrorism: seven years after the US embassy blast, the East African nation is still trying to find effective counter measures
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A England, Kenya struggles to tackle threat of terrorism: seven years after the US embassy blast, the East African nation is still trying to find effective counter measures, Financial Times, 29 July 2005.