- County commissioners, regional police commanders and Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers took part in workshop.
- Sources said the security bosses were told to adopt the shoot-to-kill approach against anyone identified as intending to commit a terror attack.
The stage appears to have been set for a heightened counter terrorism war that could include thousands of arbitrary arrests, deportations and possible hunting down and killing of suspected terrorists, and those thought to be harbouring them.
Pushed to the wall by mounting criticism by Kenyans on Al-Shabaab threat, which has refused to go away, and a feeling of not getting enough support from the international community, the government has decided to take a ruthless approach route that could put it at loggerheads with rights groups and activists.
This is the stand taken by security chiefs who have been meeting in Mombasa for a week to strategise on how to keep the country safe.
The workshop ended Friday, with President Uhuru Kenyatta saying security agencies will take a “one government” approach in the fight against terrorism.
Kenya has been pushing for the closure of Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa, arguing that it has been used to host the merchants of terrorism.
The government also says the refugee complex is used as a conduit for contraband such as weapons and drugs.
Additionally, the government believes the fight would be made easier if the United Nations designates Al-Shabaab a terrorist group, just like Al-Qaeda, Taliban and the Islamic State.
This, too, has failed due to lack of enough global support.
It is on this basis that the government has decided to use all available avenues to destroy terror cells.
“You are the tip of a sharp spear; we are going to use to destroy our enemies. Let no one or anything stand in your way in implementing the tasks we set here,” Mr Kenyatta said in a televised speech before ordering journalists out of the room to have a private meeting with security chiefs.
“I believe that we have more than enough officers. If we coordinate and co-operate, we can eliminate this evil.”
Sources said the security bosses were told to adopt the shoot-to-kill approach against anyone identified as intending to commit a terror attack.
Rights groups will obviously be angered by this decision.
For long, the inability by police to link terrorism suspects to Al-Shabaab or provide watertight evidence against them have seen those arrested walk free.
Lack of witnesses has also crippled the war against terrorism.
The government has also been finding it difficult to infiltrate and eliminate local terrorism cells whose presence has been growing.
Facilitated by Al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing, Amniyat, the cells have gradually become deep cover groups for recruiting members and carrying out raids.
According to State officials, the recent attack at Kamuthe Primary School in Garissa, was a result of a conspiracy between locals and terrorists who had crossed the border from Somalia, 100 kilometres away.
The local cells, masquerading as religious groups or business entities, are the backbone of a narcotics trade and smuggling of contraband whose proceeds are used to fund the attacks.
This is according to an intelligence report handed to the President before the Mombasa workshop.
It says universities have become the epicentres of recruitment.
Because the terror cells are secret groups without formal structures through which their activities can be tracked, the government has been having a difficult time in getting successful convictions even when intelligence reports given to the police lead to arrests.