Ambassador Dr. Martin Kimani, Director, National Counter-Terrorism Center, Kenya
The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Ambassador Kimani spoke about terrorism in Kenya, providing explanations and analyses regarding the phenomenon. Kimani also discussed Kenya's counter-terrorism efforts, including the elimination of Al-Shabaab, which is considered the top priority of the country's national security agenda.
Doctor Kimani, the Ambassador of Kenya, explained terrorism from Kenya’s point of view, specifically how they un-puzzle terrorism and how Kenyans think about threats from terrorism. He also emphasized the friendship and cooperation between Israel and Kenya. The cooperation, he says, is very important if Kenya wants to destroy terrorist capabilities on a multi-national level.
In the beginning of his speech, Dr. Kimani elaborated on the role of political will in the prosecution of terrorism and explained its difficulties. He stated the goals and achievements in terms of combating terrorism. Furthermore, he noted what is perceived as a victory over terrorism for the Government of Kenya. First and foremost, Ambassador Kimani expressed that Kenya is a democracy, a state with various religious groups and cultural differences.
Kenya has been a target of numerous terrorist attacks. In 1988, for instance, the U.S. embassy in Nairobi was attacked by associates of Al-Qaeda. The death toll resulting from terrorist attacks in Kenya is rather modest compared with other forms of violence. More Kenyans are murdered due to the intercommunal conflicts over land and resources than from acts of terrorism. Nevertheless, the fight against terrorism aims to strengthen social cohesion. Dr. Kimani noted “the will to remain strong is crucial for the people of Kenya.” Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of local and national actors in order to address the root causes of marginalization. The majority of individuals participating in acts of terrorism and other violent crimes have faced similar unfortunate circumstance such as unemployment and poverty.
According to Dr. Kimani, Kenya is facing the threat of terrorism, especially from its neighbors, due to its democratic values. Kenya shares its north-east borders with Somalia which is now considered a ‘fragile’ state. Kimani predicts that the future military defeat of Al-Shabaab can result in success, and that other issues will be resolved following this success, claiming that “success follows success.” According to Kimani, elimination of Al-Shabaab is currently a top priority in Kenya’s national security agenda.
Dr. Kimani discussed the achievements of the police and security services in terms of the prevention of attacks. Dr. Kimani also talked about the problem with overcrowded prisons, and dedicated a significant amount of his to talk about the prosecution of perpetrators of terrorist attacks. He also brought up the problems associated with foreign fighters joining Al-Shabaab and ISIS.
Towards the end of Dr. Kimani’s speech, the ideas of mutual understanding and cooperation of the international community to combat terrorism were raised. He called for the consideration of each other, and he said, “we are in the fight together… it requires a strong partnership.” He also asked the international community to acknowledge the deaths of innocent people suffering from terrorism in Kenya even though those attacks are not on the front pages of the international media. To conclude the speech, Dr. Kimani emphasized that all human lives matter, regardless of race, religion and gender.