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MALITI: Why there’s urgent need for change in terror war strategy

March 24th, 2014 2 min read

When it comes to terrorism, it seems our security agencies are content to muddle through.

What else can one conclude on learning that the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) receives only Sh63,000 a month, according to recent media reports?

The Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo acknowledged the ATPU is underfunded in a report in Wednesday’s Daily Nation. He said the unit also receives extra cash for its operations when it requests, while the police service works on a limited budget.

Lack of money is just a symptom of a larger issue. The larger issue is whether combating terrorism is seen as a security matter that deserves priority or whether it is considered simply as one of many problems facing Kenya.

It seems the attitude in security circles is that terrorism is a foreign issue. This may be reinforced by the fact that the United States and Britain fund basics such as computers as well as some of the more specialised equipment the ATPU uses.

The US and Britain also occasionally share intelligence but they do this because it is in their interest. We do not seem to have identified our own interests.

It is here in Nairobi that al-Qaeda’s first successful attack in the world took place during the August 1998 bombing of the US embassy.

Since then, al-Qaeda and other extremists have continued to plot and execute attacks against ordinary Kenyans.

Any of the attacks since August 1998 should have changed the thinking within the police service that terror attacks are a one-off occurrence or as an issue for foreigners.

By now the Police Service should have a wealth of intelligence of its own on terrorism threats facing the country to be able to draw up an effective counter-terrorism strategy.

Muddling through can no longer be an option.