Nairobi — In the ongoing battle against Al-Shabaab infiltration along Kenya’s borders, security agencies in the North Eastern region are adopting a strategy centered on community engagement and grassroots information-sharing.
As pressure mounts on the Somalia-based radical Islamist group, security and intelligence committees have been meticulously assessing the government’s responses to prevent insurgents from seeking refuge in Kenya.
North Eastern Regional Commissioner John Otieno revealed that security teams are now working tirelessly to enhance the level and quality of intelligence gathered from local leaders and civilians. This collaborative effort aims to prevent illegal activities across the borders.
“The patriotic elders have undertaken to work with us to defeat terrorism. We understand that they have invaluable tip-offs and crucial information on how we beat the enemy,” he said after chairing a meeting with local leaders and security teams in Wajir.
The county remains among those on the front line of the war against terror due to its geography and proximity to Somalia, which is progressively intensifying its community-led offensive against the insurgents.
Otieno stated that more engagements have been lined up with elected leaders as well as the clergy and peace committees to find long-term solutions to the security challenges in the region.
“North Eastern Kenya deserves equal access to national development as the other regions in the country, and the government has many projects and programmes in the pipeline for our people here. But without public safety and security, all these initiatives will fall through,” he said.
The North Eastern RC added that the strategy seeks to leverage on synergy and invoke the spirit of patriotism to interrupt the deployment of recruits by terror networks and incapacitate their cross-border operations.
During his tour of the region in early February, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki called upon the leaders and residents to step up their individual and collective responsibility in fighting Al-Shabaab adherents and urged them to join share more information with the government.
The CS challenged them to be proactive and enhance Kenya’s responses to the threat posed by the group following the banishment of its agents by civilians and security agencies from Somalia.
He stated, “It’s not possible that Somalia can manage to flash out these criminal elements and we cannot. It’s not possible. I am here to ask our community and religious leaders to collaborate with us. You are the ones with the solution to the security issue in this region,” Kindiki said.
The CS further undertook to mobilize more resources and provide more support to the grassroot security structures, including government administrators and Nyumba Kumi, and help them improve their level of contribution to Kenya’s journey to terror-free communities.
“When these people come to our country, they are seen and they are known,” Kindiki noted. “So, if the community is sensitized, we will flash them out and this war on terror will be over in a very short time,” he added.
The security teams have also heightened vigilance against cases of drug-trafficking across the Kenya-Ethiopia border, with the spotlight fixed on some residual routes being exploited by the criminals.