RENEWED TERROR WARNINGS SHOCK KENYAS TOURISM FRATERNITY
Warnings by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK, about the possibility of an imminent terror strike on Kenya, and in particular targeting foreign nationals, especially British, has shocked the Kenyan public and the tourism fraternity and are putting a cloud over the otherwise bright prospect of an equally successful year 2012 as was 2011 which ended with new arrival and revenue records for the country.
Kenya, now officially part of the African Unions AMISOM mission, three months ago entered Somali with ground troops, naval and air support to pursue and eliminate Al Shabab militants, which had at the time made it an almost daily occurrence to cross the border into Kenya, hit refugee camps and most notoriously kill and abduct a few foreigners from resort locations between Lamu and the border to Somalia.
Many in Kenyas political establishment until then seem to have believed that sitting around the proverbial campfire and singing Kumbaya would solve the problems of their troubled neighbours, only to learn at their own expense that the problem from hell was not only not going away but was in fact spreading into Kenya, threatening national security.
First to go into Somalia several years ago was Ethiopia, clearly seeing the connections even then between radical Islamic militants and terrorists and their own hostile neighbours Eritrea. That isolated country is long suspected and regularly accused of aiding and abetting the Somali terrorists and the Oromo rebels, which hid in Somalia from where they perpetrated hit and run attacks into Ethiopia, similar to the killer militias in Eastern Congo were doing for long to Rwanda.
Sharply critizised back then by fence sitters and finger wavers, though immediately applauded by this correspondent for their courage, Ethiopia eventually withdrew their forces when the AMISOM mission was launched, but with troops only from Uganda and Burundi at the time, too few to do much beyond securing the TFG in Mogadishu, the burden was squarely on our own boys from Uganda and their brethren from Burundi. Djibouti joined AMISOM in December 2011 when they also sent in a contingent of troops to Mogadishu.
The cost for this involvement kept rising, a plane crash out of Entebbe flying supplies and high ranking officers to Somalia took the lives of all on board, and the casualties on the ground kept rising too, until at the eve of the World Cup Final in 2010 nearly 80 innocent lives were lost when Al Shabab operatives committed mass murder / suicide at two locations, simultaneously, in Kampala. The threats against us here in Uganda by Al Shabab have since continued, notable after several of their agents were caught and are facing trial, with one having been sentenced to life imprisonment already under a plea deal of him giving up information for not facing the hangman at Luzira High Security Prison.
Kenya, immediately after the invasion, already suffered some one off grenade attacks, and more such in areas bordering Somalia where militants can use the vegetation to cross the frontier under the cover of darkness. When last in Nairobi security everywhere was notably stepped up to levels we are quite used to in Kampala, though leading hotels had for years maintained and widened their security cordon to avoid incidents. Vigilance was hence already at a heightened state, beefed up further for the Christmas celebrations and the New Years parties across Kenya, at which time the government had warned citizens and visitors to be extra vigilant and not give Al Shabab the opportunity to inflict a terror strike on key locations. This advice has been repeated since by the Kenyan government and there is speculation that they may have broken an Al Shabab network leading to information which exposed the terrorists plans what targets to strike given a moment of laxity. Yet, the way international news networks, almost gleeful, then hammered Kenya also speaks for their own mindset another African country in a mess and easy target to bash. Instead of using a one paragraph info they started a right proper media blitz against Kenya, warming up the, and I say it with deepest regret, bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi and other past incidents, to put Kenya in a dark light instead of applauding for the courage to do the dirty work for THEM, preventing another Afghanistan to emerge at the Horn of Africa from where Somali pirates, operating often with sanction by Al Shabab, already are inflicting heavy economic damage to the world economy with their piracy activities on the high seas, commonly termed ocean terror by this correspondent.
Uganda, Burundi and Kenya are now part of the African Unions AMISOM mission and Ethiopia, equally concerned and threatened by terrorists hiding in Somalia and a hostile neighbour with a hidden agenda, are in the conflict under their own flag to create a forward defense, a legitimate cause when threatened by a clear and present danger to national security. Admittedly, we are all targets of Al Shabab lunatics and there is little defense against someone ready to die him or herself in a suicide murder mission. And yes, something might happen though the security teams from the entire region, boosted incidentally by friendly foreign intelligence services from the very countries whose news channels are now happily bashing Kenya, are working day and night to prevent incidents. We cannot rule it out and I for sure cannot say we are 100 percent safe, but we are not any less safe than 3 days ago or more in danger than a year ago or 3 months ago. The invisible smirk on the faces of the anchors and their editors in the back rooms must be wiped off and replaced with genuine concern for what is happening in our region, where Somalia either comes under the full control of a central government again or else we tolerate to have another Al Qaida breeding and training ground to deal with in years to come. Just stop bashing Kenya and in the process wreck their economy and no less than in an upcoming election year but then, Rupert Murdoch style, what has ever prevented the gutter media from even helping to create incidents to then make headline news, no matter the cost. At least our Kenyan friends know they do not stand alone and at least have the support from the region, inspite of the campaign waged against them by the global networks right now. I give all the blessings I can muster to the East African forces now fighting for our freedom and liberties inside Somalia and thank them for their sacrifice.