East African Countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania are on high alert following an escalation of terrorist activity in the region. Uganda saw terror attacks in the last few weeks, as Kenya was marred by a prison break of suspected terror suspects. All this is happening as the Horn of Africa region is undergoing a tumultuous time with the Tigray Conflict in Ethiopia. The Al-Shabaab, a splinter group of ISIL is a major terrorist threat in East Africa and the entire Horn of Africa region, mainly operating from Somalia. The group has launched attacks before in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, and especially in Somalia where they operate from. As such, there is mounting tension in the region that the terror threats could culminate in terrorist attacks.
Kenya as a Regional Peacekeeping Nation
Kenya’s case is of particular significance as the country has been targeted in the past by the Al-Shabaab owing to its peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, as part of the AU Peacekeeping Mission. Somalia has long been war-torn and in conflict and the Al-Shabaab insurgence has only made matters worse. Even more risky for the neighboring country Kenya is the recent diplomatic scuffle between the two countries over a maritime border. Kenya, however, remains a friend of Ethiopia and is still undertaking its peacekeeping mission through its decade-long deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces to Somalia.
From a wider perspective, Kenya also won a seat at the United Nations Security Council and has taken its voice to the global level to advocate for peace and the eradication of terrorism in East Africa, the Horn of Africa region, and Africa as a whole. When it comes to the Ethiopian conflict, Kenya through President Uhuru Kenyatta has been making efforts to advocate for mediation between the warring parties.
Increasingly Complex Terrorist Activities in the Region
The Al-Shabaab is a treacherous group that has the tools to mount attacks all over East Africa and the region as a whole. A case in point is the recent Al-Shabaab-claimed terrorist attacks in Mozambique that led to the desertion of several towns. Luckily, Rwanda, a neighbor to Mozambique came to the country’s aid and helped secure the nation from the insurgents.
Even as funding for the Rwanda-led security mission remains unclear and controversial, it is a welcome help for the otherwise defense weak country. Speculations indicate that France has been funding the Rwanda mission to Mozambique, similar to its efforts in the Sahel region against terrorist groups. Africa is increasingly facing terrorist threats and there is the need for adequate funding and training of armed forces to defend the continent and its people.
The Threat of Terrorist Attacks Even in the Cyberspace
Groups such as Al-Shabaab are becoming increasingly complex with complex skills even in cyberspace. These groups are jihadist in nature and are increasingly acquiring the resources, knowledge, and skills to even mount cyberattacks and online disinformation or radicalization campaigns. There is also the risk that these groups are increasingly using social media and the internet to recruit new members and radicalize the youth into joining jihad groups. As such, it is upon all nations, in East Africa, Africa, and beyond to ensure that there are enough measures to stop radicalization on and off social media and the internet.
Adequate Resources Needed to Tackle Terrorism in Africa
The terrorism challenges in Africa can be tackled but it will take a lot of security funding, resources, and training to ensure that African nations are increasingly able to avert terror attacks and stop terrorist activities in their jurisdictions. Even more, it is upon the citizens to ensure that they remain alert and report any terrorist suspected activity to the relevant authorities. The synergy between citizens and governments will be crucial to eradicating terrorism in Africa and ensuring that young people are not radicalized to join terrorist groups. It will also ensure security for everyone, allowing Africa to prosper and grow.