THE FAULT LINES 'WEST­GATE' EX­POSED

The West­gate at­tack showed that it is not enough to change the se­cu­rity bosses, or tackle Al Shabaab through the whole­sale con­dem­na­tion of mem­bers of the So­mali eth­nic group. WAN­JOHI KABUKURU re­ports

Diplomat East Africa - - Front Page -

On year after the West­gate siege, the com­mem­o­ra­tion was as ex­pected. Those af­fected are still mourn­ing and cling to the pre­cious mem­o­ries. In terms of of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment pol­icy there are three ma­jor ca­su­al­ties of the West­gate af­ter­math. Two are per­sonal and one is in­sti­tu­tional. The im­me­di­ate Ma­jor Gen­eral Michael Gichangi and Jane Waik­enda are the two per­son­al­i­ties who were re­lieved off their po­si­tions as Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (NIS) and di­rec­tor of im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice re­spec­tively. Based on what is in the pub­lic do­main as pre­sented by the im­me­di­ate NIS boss, it was

clear that the in­tel­li­gence ser­vice was weak op­er­a­tionally and re­lied on other agen­cies for its “bare knuck­led brawn work.” A clear in­di­ca­tion that NIS was not so­lu­tion fo­cused but dwelt heav­ily on sooth­say­ing.

West­gate also brought in new faces to take over Gichangi and Waik­enda. They are Ma­jor-Gen­eral Philip Kameru the for­mer di­rec­tor of the Direc­torate of Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence ( DMI) and Ma­jor-Gen­eral (rtd) Gor­don Ki­ha­langwa as the di­rec­tor of im­mi­gra­tion.

West­gate has taken prece­dence as the worst ter­ror at­tack on Kenyan soil the Au­gust 7th 1998 bombing of the US em­bassy. Why West­gate has more promi­nence than other ter­ror at­tacks in Kenya is a ques­tion beg­ging an­swers and is not just a mere aca­demic ex­er­cise but has point­ers that lead to Kenya’s se­cu­rity’s chal­lenges. The way it played over the so­cial me­dia; the re­al­ity of the Hol­ly­wood machismo tone that the four day siege took as it was played on live tele­vi­sion and on­line stream­ing plus the vis­i­bil­ity of the venue and high so­ci­ety in­di­vid­u­als are all open clues of the mode that ter­ror­ism has taken in the re­cent past. In terms of ca­su­al­ties, West­gate pales over the Au­gust 7th 1998 bomb­ings.

The So­mali mil­i­tant group Al Shabaab who claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the four day siege that claimed 67 lives took ad­van­tage of the lack of checks and bal­ances be­tween the in­tel­li­gence, im­mi­gra­tion and the po­lice and maxi-

Emerg­ing ter­ror and or­gan­ised crime threats are newer tak­ing forms every­day and mu­tat­ing at the same time

mized on so­cial me­dia to pass their mes­sage across to the world. Based on the blame game that en­sued soon after the West­gate and the in­tel­li­gence briefs that were leaked once the siege had ended it is clear that cred­i­ble in­tel­li­gence on the at­tack had been gath­ered, col­lated, an­a­lysed and passed on to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties but noth­ing tan­gi­ble hap­pened.

The events lead­ing and after West­gate in­di­cate that it is not enough to change the se­cu­rity bosses. This is be­cause the fault lines be­tween the coun­try’s se­cu­rity agen­cies run deep. It is also clear that the se­cu­rity agen­cies are weak op­er­a­tionally, un­wieldy and some­what caught in a time warp. The ap­proaches and meth­ods used in tack­ling Al Shabaab

with whole­sale con­dem­na­tion of mem­bers of So­mali eth­nic group have shown a po­lice force that lacks in ideas and is poor in imag­i­na­tion. It also shows the lack of com­mit­ment to na­tional val­ues and er­ro­neous judge­ment. The same can also be said of NIS. Over at the im­mi­gra­tion which has since been co-opted into the Kenyan se­cu­rity ma­trix, lethargy and self serv­ing in­ter­ests have been the norm.

And this is the tough job that the new in­tel­li­gence and im­mi­gra­tion bosses must ap­pre­ci­ate. They are join­ing in­sti­tu­tions in dire need of com­plete men­tal makeovers. Though times have changed, th­ese in­sti­tu­tions are yet to keep pace with emerg­ing trends in im­mi­gra­tion and in­tel­li­gence. While it must be ap­pre­ci­ated that both Ki­ha­langwa and Kameru are hard men with suc­cess and high achieve­ments perched on their epaulettes, change man­age­ment which is their main task ahead is a daunt­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Emerg­ing ter­ror and or­gan­ised crime threats are tak­ing newer forms every­day and mu­tat­ing at the same time. The Au­gust 7th Memo­rial Park in Nairobi which was sup­posed to serve as a “never again” mo­ment to ter­ror at­tacks on Kenyan soil is more the­o­ret­i­cal than real. West­gate and Mpeke­toni mas­sacres hap­pened even when it was clear ad­vance warn­ings had been is­sued and clearly demon­strated that Kenya’s “never again mo­ment” had been com­pro­mised. Au­gust 7th Memo­rial Park was meant to be a showcase where ter­ror­ism was de­feated but it is to­day a sad re­minder of how se­cu­rity agen­cies es­pe­cially the po­lice slept on the job.

And this is what brings in the the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice (IGP) David Ki­maiyo into fo­cus not to men­tion the third change which is in­sti­tu­tional as it di­rectly af­fects the po­lice ser­vice. West­gate has seen the IGP los­ing clout in in­ter­nal se­cu­rity af­fairs and much in­flu­ence now rests with the mil­i­tary.

In the ter­ror­ism war, the or­gan­ised crime league, poach­ing cri­sis, drug trafficking and gen­eral crime the po­lice seem to have lost out com­pletely. The events of the last one year show dis­jointed spe­cial­ized po­lice for­ma­tions

that ap­pear to be in ca­hoots with crime barons. Lack­lus­tre po­lice for­ma­tions no­tably Anti Nar­cotics Po­lice Unit, Land Fraud Unit, Spe­cial Crimes Preve ntion Unit and the Anti-Bank­ing Fraud Unit (ABFU) are po­lice units that lack the met­tle to de­liver. Ap­par­ently lesser po­lice squads like “kwekwe” and “Rhino” ap­peared to have achieved much es­pe­cially in the fight to con­tain the threats posed by Mungiki which was fast be­com­ing a mili­tia.

Both the direc­torate of crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the anti ter­ror­ism po­lice units ap­pear over­whelmed and clue­less in the ter­ror­ism war. So far the po­lice have gen­er­ally been play­ing sec­ond fid­dle and lack­ing in ini­tia­tive. And the two rea­sons that prop up on po­lice blun­ders are cor­rup­tion and cozy­ing up to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests.

It is clear the mil­i­tary is clinch­ing the ac­co­lades in an area that was orig­i­nally a pre­serve of the po­lice. This is where Ki­maiyo and his re­spec­tive deputies need to come up with newer strate­gies or lose out com­pletely. The signs are al­ready on the wall and the ground­work has al­ready been pre­pared. The es­tab­lish­ment of the Nairobi Met­ro­pol­i­tan Com­mand (NMC) which is to be un­der the Kenya De­fence Forces (KDF) is the surest sign that the po­lice are los­ing out in the ter­ror­ism war cour­tesy of their own fail­ures. When the NMC was set up in late 2013 by pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, and given wide rang­ing pow­ers to com­bat “ter­ror­ism, drug trafficking, pro­lif­er­a­tion of small arms and crime” it was clear the po­lice had outwitted them­selves out of the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity docket and are almost mak­ing them­selves ir­rel­e­vant. The sec­ond episode that the po­lice are out of the cor­ri­dors of power was when Pres­i­dent Uhuru over­saw the Kenya Navy de­stroy­ing heroin worth $11.2mil­lion in the In­dian ocean. Ki­maiyo who is known for his zeal­ous read­ing of the Bi­ble must now brace him­self for his own “Mene, Mene, Tekel up­harsin” mo­ment

FLASH­BACK: Run­ning for cover on Septem­ber 21, 2013

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