President Uhuru Kenyatta has said radicalisation of youths to join terror groups was a big challenge for the Kenyan government.
Speaking during celebrations to mark the 52nd Madaraka Day at the Nyayo National Stadium, he regretted that young people had fallen into the trap of being made to believe that killing people was a good doctrine.
“We face a new kind of enemy against whom conventional methods will not work. This enemy is a radicalised young man or woman who appears innocent but is devoted to death, division and destruction. He has been misled to believe that he is doing God’s work by killing those of different faiths,” President Kenyatta said.
According to the Head of State, protecting young people from joining radical groups and also de-radicalising the already converted cannot be done without working together with religious leaders, parents and the rest of the society.
In his view, citizens should closely work with authorities especially by reporting suspicious cases of radicalisation.
He said the government has identified other methods such as the anti-radicalisation programme also intended to re-integrate youths who are willing to surrender.
“To deal with this enemy, we must keep improving our methods and tactics. Prevention is better than cure: and that is why we must stop them from being radicalized. We can’t do this without the complete cooperation of parents, guardians, and religious leaders. Theirs is not a minor responsibility.
“Radicalisation does not always wear its intentions openly. Your child might appear devoutly religious, but you must be able to tell when radicalisation turns piety to evil,” he said.
He announced that the programme will soon be rolled out by security organs, national government and county governments which will also work with civil society groups and faith-based organisations.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who graced the occasion advised Kenya to identify the culprits behind the Al Shabaab attacks and deal with them.
Using a metaphor, he likened Kenya’s problem to a jigger infection, saying one cannot cut off an entire leg to get rid of it.
“You remove only the jigger without hurting the leg. Don’t be excited when it itches and cut the leg, the leg is yours, only the jigger that has entered, just look for it slowly and remove it,” he advised as he described the best way to deal with Al Shabaab.
Museveni also described Al Shabaab attacks as cowardly.
In his view, they target on helpless civilians whom he referred to as ‘soft targets’ was an indication that Al Shabaab had run out of ideas.
“A fool like Al Shabaab has failed to fight with security officers then they decide to attack civilians. In your country they decided to kill students. In our country (Uganda) they threw a grenade at people in a night club, night club people are not informed about politics, they are people just having fun, some are drunk, now when you throw a grenade at them, what did you achieve,” he wondered.