Counties have been asked to fast track the development of coherent and inclusive strategies to supplement national government efforts in the fight against violent extremism in their regions.
The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) senior official, Benson Ngeiywo said there was an urgent need for counties to put in place a rapid county action plan to help in preventing and countering violent extremism for the sake of peaceful coexistence.
Speaking on Monday at a Kabarnet hotel when he presided over the launching of Baringo Action Plan for preventing and countering violent extremism, Ngeiywo said that Al Shabaab and other extremist groups have expanded their recruitment bases and cells to non-traditional areas and it was imperative that counties remain vigilant.
The chief liaison officer said the violent groups have in the recent past changed tactics, techniques and procedures in the way they execute their criminal acts by using bombing, hijacking, kidnapping, assault or murder among other methods to realise their objectives.
In the one day training workshop attended by various stakeholders from six sub counties in the area, the officer revealed that serious cases of radicalization and recruitment have been reported within learning and religious institutions that hitherto were perceived to be safe.
“I urge you to change your mindsets towards associating violent extremism with certain communities and regions and know that things have changed. Terrorism is real and within us. Our children are being lured to join these groups every day,” he implored.
He called on parents to be in full control of their families by monitoring keenly the movement and activities of their children, stating that some youth have travelled to Somalia and even come back without the knowledge of parents or guardians.
The meeting officially opened by County Commissioner (CC), Henry Wafula, the National Counter Terrorism Centre official also asked landlords and lodging proprietors to ensure that they profile all people seeking rental houses and accommodation in their premises to avoid a scenario like that which took place in Kiambu where masterminds of 14 Riverside attacks stayed in a house for months without being known.
The CC in his speech asked the stakeholders to work together with security personnel deployed across the
county in combating all forms of crime.
The rapid county action plan once in place, Wafula stated, will go a long way in supplementing efforts by counter terrorism centre to deal with violent extremism within the county.
The Deputy governor, Jacob Chepkwony who also attended the workshop underscored the role of security in development emphasising that when people are safe they are able to plan and carry out social economic activities in a peaceful environment.
“I just want to let you know that terrorism is with us and we need to counter it by all means,” he stressed.
Chepkwony who lauded the initiative mooted through a presidential directive in 2014 assured the national counter terrorism centre official that the county government will support it fully.
He regretted that young people are pushed to join terrorist groups due to unemployment or abject poverty adding that there was need to put in place development programmes and projects that will enable the youth to engage gainful employment.
During the meeting a 15 member stakeholder’s steering committee on county counter terrorism violent extremism (CVE) was formed to spearhead the mapping of threat levels in the region and priority pillars for the county.
By Joshua Kibet