Terrorism has now become one of the most salient security issues in the International system. Terrorism is by no means a new term as acts of terror date back to 66AD to the violent activities of the Sicarii in Palestine. To date there is no universally agreed comprehensive definition of terrorism given the pejorative nature of the word, however, it can be simply defined as the threat of ghastly violence and the use of fear to compel, coax, and gain public traction.
There are various forms of terrorism, but all of them have undoubtedly found home to Africa. Right from the independence struggles, the threat of violence was a feature of the liberation movements, political executions, military coups and the many civil strife’s that have plagued many African Countries. However, even in the post colonial period, terrorism is not an isolated phenomenon for Africa, since many African countries have come under the threat of terrorism and its violent activities in recent decades. While some African countries have become target of terror activities for simply being allies to the US and Israel, some have become targets for supporting Western doctrines such as democracy and secularism. Some of the infamous organized terrorist groups raging havoc in Africa include Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Tunisian Combatant group, Lord’s Resistance Army, and Muslim Brotherhood.
In Kenya, for example, the Somali based Al-shabaab terror group has proved resilient and continued to carry out horrific attacks on Kenyan soil. From 2011, Kenya saw an upsurge in violent terror attacks such as the kidnappings of foreign aid agencies workers in Mandera in 2012, Westgate mall shooting in 2013, Mpeketoni attacks in 2014, and the Garissa University massacre in 2015.
Law enforcement as a counterterrorism tool
This malicious and random nature of terrorist acts coupled with the obliteration of figurative buildings for political reasons and instilling fear in the populace, has triggered the search for practices, tactics, techniques and strategies to suppress these real and even imputed threats. The aim of all counter terrorism measures is to counteract terrorist cells and operatives. In the US, for instance, intelligence networks such as Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), together with Department of Homeland Security and the state Department work closely to combat terrorism in the US soil and even worldwide in accordance with the Bush Anti-Terror Doctrine.
Following the 9/11, there was a consensus by the US security apparatus and other stakeholders that national security could be attained by combining both law enforcement and intelligence. The focus on law enforcement as a tool to combating terrorism takes into account the fact that the fight against terror is declaration of war, and in this war the sole aim is to win, and to win, all tools at disposal consistent with the law and human values should be used. Law enforcement aids in disrupting, defeating and taking into pieces the terrorists who are the adversaries without demolishing our way of life or lives of non combatants in the process.
Law enforcement as a counter terrorism tool has been implemented through use of arrests and imprisonment. This helps in disrupting the terrorists’ plots, debilitating terrorists through incarceration after prosecution and obtaining intelligence from the terror suspects or their sympathizers through intensive interrogation and also recruiting them as cooperating assets to provide detailed information about the enemy. Following the surge in terror activities in the wake of the new millennium, the US provided financial support to the Kenyan government to facilitate anti-terror trainings for Kenya Intelligence in New Mexico in 2003. Later in 2004, an exclusive anti-terror unit was established within the Criminal Investigations Department to combat terror activities in the country. This unit has been very instrumental in arresting terror suspects, providing sufficient enough evidence for their prosecution in court, and sharing intelligence with other police units as well as intelligence networks in neighboring countries to thwart planned terror attacks. By the end of 2015, several major terror cases remained open in Kenyan courts, such as the trial of four Kenyans and one Tanzanian charged in June with masterminding the Garissa attack.
The other significant operational strategy in combating terror activities globally is financial interdiction through expansion of technical facilities to espy on suspects. Much of these techniques are an upgrade of the mundane techniques of countering money laundering schemes. Besides, these methods are now institutionalized in global laws through the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, and have been domesticated locally through financial laws. Apart from widespread installation of closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) in banking institutions extensive measures have been put in place to offset credit card fraud. Following the prevalent use of internet across the globe, stirring up cyber crimes, most nations have legislated measures that oblige Internet Service Providers (ISP) to gather and maintain data as an audit trail of online activities.
Kenya is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a regional financial taskforce that conducts investigations on criminal money. In April 2015, the Police Inspector General of Kenya listed 87 individuals and organizations including financial institutions and Non- Governmental organizations believed to be supporting terror groups. While the Central bank of Kenya freezed funds of these organizations, the NGO Coordination Board revoked the licenses of three NGOs namely: Haki Africa Agency for Peace and Development, and Muslim for Human Rights (MUHURI). Besides, the Hawala system was suspended shortly to pave way for investigations on legitimate money transfer systems in the country. Besides, Kenya has set up a Financial Reporting Center (FRC) which works closely with the Central Bank, the Capital Markets Authority and the police organs in monitoring theformal finance system.
Counterterrorism measures have also focused on enforcement of laws against document forgeries. Most terrorist attacks across the world are carried out by foreigners who take advantage of the negligence and corrupt nature of immigration and security apparatus to acquire necessary travel and entry documents. The 9/11 hijackers for instance, acquired drivers’ licenses through fraudulent means and this has been replicated severally in Kenya, as in the case of Jermaine Grant, a British national sentenced to 9 years imprisonment in August 2015 for being in possession of explosives and fake citizenship documents. Terrorists groups have built their own networks with elites and technical professional occupying high ranking positions to facilitate their activities. In this case, law enforcement would be preferable to intelligence agencies as many of these petty criminal supporting terrorist groups would easily be dealt with a security service with detailed information.
In this line, the Kenyan government has instigated measures to draft a border-control strategy in order to enhance capacity to identify and apprehend potential terrorists entering or leaving the Kenyan territory. At the ports of entry terrorists screening watch lists, biometric and biographic screening, and other screening measures have been put in place. Large border stretches have received heavy security reinforcement to man the movement into and out of the country, while the government has began construction of a high-security wall between the Kenya-Somali border in a bid to curb the frequent attacks in teh North eastern region conducted by Somali nationals slipping into the country illegally.
International and regional cooperation has also been pursued as a means to implementing concerted law enforcement as a counterterrorism tool. Major conventions and resolutions have been passed at global level within the UN framework and other international bodies such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). There are also regional agencies such as the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Committee in which Kenya is an active member, the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism, and a troop contributor to AMISOM- AU Mission in Somalia- in which Kenya’s ‘Linda Nchi operation’ in Somalia part of. Kenya is also part of IGAD- Intergovernmental Authority on Development- initiatives to counter acts of terror in the Horn of Africa region, in which it continues to host RECSA, the regional centre on agency on small arms and light weapons and host a range of other forums geared towards combating terror in the region.
Much has been done in countering ideologies spurring terrorism through law enforcement but the legal aspects of these actions have not kept pace with technological revolutions and shifts in ideologies. Besides, there is still a stark opposition between law enforcement and use of military intelligence and interventions. While both tools advocate for a common goal which is countering terrorism, the use of each produces conflicting results which in some cases provides the loophole for terrorism to flourish.