Tuesday April 2, 2019
By MANASE OTSIALO
Elders drawn from perceived terror hotspots in Mandera County during a training on countering extremism on March 31, 2019. Through such trainings, Mandera is steadily rising from years of violent terror attacks that have had adverse effects to the region. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Mandera County has, for the past several years, been known for terror incidents that have led to many deaths and injuries.
attacks by suspected Al-Shabaab terrorists started in 2011 with 2014
marking the climax when, within ten days, 64 people were killed by the.
non-Somali population has been mostly the target of the extremists who
for long have crossed into Mandera at will, caused mayhem and returned
to the war-torn Somalia unhindered.
The local community
has also suffered the consequences of the presence of terror cells by
being killed in suspicious and unexplained circumstances and also due to
economic sanctions that have left them helpless.
agencies in Mandera have also suffered from the attacks with scores
being killed in their security camps or by roadside explosives planted
by suspected the militants.
To address the increase in terror incidents in the area, the
county government came up with several intervention measures including
organising several forums to discuss possible local solutions to the
A fully-fledged department of counter-radicalisation and violence extremism is in charge of the programmes.
four-day forum to engage locals drawn from the perceived terror
hotspots in the county dubbed “Building Local Capacities for Prevention
and Countering Violent Extremism” has been underway.
Mr Issa Mohamed, an expert in countering violent extremism and peace building reported that Mandera is on the right trajectory.
the situation across the county has improved compared to a few years
back but the county government and other stakeholders still need to hold
a continuous conversion of counter-violent extremism (CVE),” he said.
Religious leaders, elders, youth and women from the terror hotspots were involved in the training.
are working towards enhancing capacity against radicalisation that is
an enemy within by engaging this selected group,” said Mr Mohamed.
According to the expert, locals need to understand the twisted Islamic teachings used by extremists in radicalisation.
“We want the local population to understand and be able to identify early signs of radicalisation in society,” he said.
radicalised individual can be identified from his or her behaviour
including avoiding others. They also feel ostracised by their peers, he
“A radicalised person is simply looking for a
new thrill or source of excitement and always wants to go out and
correct a perceived injustice,” said Mr Mohamed.
prevent radicalisation in Mandera, Mr Mohamed proposed a proper
communication strategy to explain government policies and also
development of inter-cultural dialogue within.
job opportunities and harassment from government security agencies
forced the youth into radicalisation but the narrative has changed,” he
In 2015, the national government declared amnesty for Al-Shabaab returnees but no success has been recorded to date.
Governor Ali Roba vowed to support programmes aimed at countering
violent extremism besides the rehabilitation of returnees.
least 350 locals from 30 wards in Mandera East, Lafey, Mandera South
and Kotulo sub-counties were engaged in the training to fight terrorism.
have so far engaged 210 religious leaders across the county and our aim
is to have them champion the prevention and countering of violent
extremism,” said Mr Mohamed Adan Osman, the head of de-radicalisation
and counter-violent extremism department.
Adan Ali Hassan, a resident of Arabia, said the training of locals on
the effects of radicalisation is what was lacking. This led to a
detachment between the locals and the government.
trained on the whole issue of extremist violence is a score in the
fight because we are able to know and differentiate between right and
wrong,” he said.
Leaders from the vast north eastern counties met in Mandera last November and agreed to fight Al-Shabaab menace in the region.
Mandera County has since drafted an action plan to prevent and counter violent extremism that will be launched soon.
baseline survey conducted under the county action plan by Malaika
Foundation suggests that the incidents of radicalisation, violent
extremism and terrorism in Mandera are mainly linked to Al-Shabaab
militant group based in Somalia.
The survey found out
that the biggest challenge in Mandera is not just the attacks that
continue to take place in the county, but more importantly, the ideology
which enabled locals to support the attacks, tolerate or keep quiet
about them, and which have subdued citizens into fear when the attacks
“We are very keen on changing all these vices in our society and have it stand against any form of terror cells,” said Mr Osman.