A forum aimed at countering incidents of violent extremism has finally been launched in Machakos County.
Speaking during the launch at the Gelian Hotel on Friday, National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Director in Charge of Surveillance, Wilson Njega said the forum, which has roped stakeholders from both the national and county government, will play a big boost to the country’s war against terror.
Kenya is among a growing list of countries that have borne the brunt of terrorist attacks, with the latest being the Dusit 2 attack at Riverside Drive in Nairobi early this year, which claimed 21 people.
Among those expected to sit in the forum to be known as the County Countering Violent Extremism Forum (CVEF) is Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua, County Commissioner, Esther Maina, members of the County Security Committee, legislators, religious leaders and representatives from marginalized groups.
Njega said the new team which is expected to meet for two days, will also come up with a draft document which will be used in dealing with radicalization and identifying of potential terrorist cells in the area.
The former Central Regional Commissioner further said the government wanted to use these forums as a way of domestication the National Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism (NSCVE) to the counties.
“We want to domesticate the National Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism in all the 47 counties on a need assessment basis.
The program is being funded by both the Kenyan and the United States government.
A collaboration between the national government and locals in counties that were previously labelled as terror hotspots has seen a drastic decrease in the number of incidences related to terrorism over the last two years,” said Njega.
This has been witnessed in Garissa,Wajir, Mandera and Lamu counties which had previously borne the brunt of terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab militia outfit.
The CVEF will also help in the formation of a Rapid County Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
The idea is borne out of the fact that Machakos sits in a region surrounded by neighbours that can act as a safe conduit for terrorist elements.
Participants also came up with a County Action Plan (CAP) that will help in coming up with the most effective interventions to deal with individuals that terrorist groups use to radicalize and recruit members.
Njega noted that with the ever evolving face, terrorism must now be confronted by employing new initiatives that will rope in the locals.
He said the country can no longer rely on the security organs alone in countering terror, as those who bankroll terror groups are becoming more sophisticated and unpredictable in their mode of operations, including recruiting of professionals like medics, lawyers and journalists into their ranks.
“Terrorism is a dynamic and evolving activity. It is a global caliphate and ideology, well bankrolled and complete with professionals under their ranks. Terrorism is not allied to any religion, creed ethnicity or nationality but hits anyone. Everyone should therefore play his rightful role in eliminating this threat within our borders,” he added.
The Machakos County Assembly Speaker, Florence Mwangangi on her part backed the new initiative and said the house had already set aside a sizeable amount of money to go towards the war on terror.
She said members of the Assembly will work hand in hand with the new team in ensuring the dream of eradicating violent extremism countrywide was finally realized.
By Samuel Maina