â€œThree days before the raid, NIS [National Intelligence Service] officers relayed information to their bosses in Nairobi about a looming high-scale attack by Al-Shabaab. They advised NIS headquarters to send alerts across the county and mobilise adequate personnel,â€ the source said.Â This is what a leading daily reported in the wake of Â the deadly massacre of more than sixty innocent Kenyans in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, on Sunday and Monday.
Â On Monday morning, the Interior Cabinet Secretary, JosephOle Lenku had averred that the attacks were â€œpolitical and not terrorist actions.â€ The Head of State, Uhuru Kenyatta, repeated Mr. Lenkuâ€™s assertions the following day in a live television address to the Nation.
Listen to the President: â€œThe attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons. This, therefore, was not an Al Shabaab terrorist attack.â€
As we were treated to this theatre of the absurd, the families â€“ mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, wives and relatives â€“ of sixty Kenyans are in mourning. To them what matters is that this senseless butcher of the innocent is prevented in future and the perpetrators of the pre-current and previous ones are brought to justice. My heart bleeds for them. Meanwhile the Somali terror outfit â€“ Al Shabaab â€“ was boasting for all to hear how they had executed that â€œmissionâ€ whose objective they claimed was to â€œavenge the oppression of Muslims in Kenya and Somalia and the killing of Muslim scholars at the Coast.â€
One needs a kilo of salt with which to take the statements of these two topmost state officials in charge of our national security. When Mr. Lenku tells us that these were â€œpolitical and not terrorist actions,â€ he makes me look stupid, if I am actually not.Â So far, I have never in life heard of any terrorist activity that is not linked to any political motive, however misguided. If I may directly ask Secretary Lenku, what is the motive of Al Shabaab terror group? Converting people to Christianity to await Jesus Christâ€™s Second Coming, I suppose. I read somewhere that Al Shabaab has defined its goal as to â€œcreate an Islamic State in Somalia.â€ If this is not a political motive, then what is?
By exonerating Al Shabaab from responsibility, President Uhuru could as well be the first leader in world history whose country is attacked, a known terror group takes responsibility, but he rejects that claim to say, â€œNo, it is not you, it is us.â€ Sure, we are a country of many firsts! Terrorists are known to be brutal, ruthless and heartless. But one thing they donâ€™t do is to lie. They claim responsibility when they are responsible and deny when not. The Al Shabaab leaders must be raising their glasses of juice in self-congratulation.
Let us accept it. President Kenyatta has the right,responsibility and authority to accept or reject Al Shabaabâ€™s claim of responsibility for the cowardly attacks on our people. He is the President. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces. He is the custodian of our national security. The president receives first class intelligence â€“ both civil and military.
But the President must also accept that he owes us a moral and constitutional responsibility. He has a responsibility to ensure that everyKenyan and his or her visitor are protected. He has an obligation to protect Kenyansâ€™ and non-Kenyan investorsâ€™ property.Â The President is a politician. However, when it comes to the lives and property of Kenyans, we expect the President to rise above partisan politics.
When the President tells us â€œlocal political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous attacks,â€ we read petty politics, not the resolve of a leader who is concerned over the state of security of his citizens. I would have been assured if the President had told the nation that the leaders and ordinary members of these â€œpolitical networksâ€had been apprehended and charged with overt acts of murdering Kenyans. Short of this, I lack reason to believe my Head of State.
While many have bayed for the blood of Mr. Lenku, I differ with them. Much as the Cabinet Secretary is the political head of our national security, he is ineffectual if the entire security edifice is dysfunctional,which it is. Our security system is plagued by many pestilences. These range from incompetence, corruption, ethnic bigotry, logistical deficiencies, inadequate equipment and tools, poor terms and conditions of service, to lack of patriotism. These could have led to the Mpeketoni Massacre even in the wake of prior intelligence.
Apart from what was reported regarding the intelligence gathered and shared at least three days before the Mpeketoni attacks, we are told that a woman by the name Samantha, who has become notorious as the â€œWhite Widowâ€ was espied in Lamu a couple of weeks ago.Â In spite of the fact that Samantha has been linked to an array of terrorist attacks, including at Nairobiâ€™s Westgate Shopping Mall nine months ago, our security bosses dismissed with contempt the media reports concerning her presence. Now, the chicken have come home to roost!
As these thugs were terrorizing people in Mpeketoni, at least three families in Ongata Rongai were suffering unnoticed in the hands of armed robbers. They had no one to turn to for help. Similarly on the morning of that Sunday, Elder Festus Okoth Ojwangâ€™, a lecturer at Mount Kenya University and director of Millennium Insurance Brokers, was shot fatally at his residence in New Valley, Kitengela.
The President and his able team owes it to us that criminals of whatever category â€“ organized or not â€“ do not roam our towns and villages to kill, maim, rape and rob at will. Otherwise, there will be no compulsion on my part to work hard and pay tax.