In Summary
  • Some years ago, Mungiki was a word that struck terror among central Kenya residents

  • But a decade after shaking off the ugly link to the sect, terrorism is the new conundrum in the region.

  • With levels of unemployment at an all-time high, central Kenya is evolving into a breeding ground for terrorism.

Some years ago, Mungiki was a word that struck terror among central Kenya residents

But a decade after shaking off the ugly link to the sect, terrorism is the new conundrum in the region.

With levels of unemployment at an all-time high, owing to the collapse of the tea and coffee industries, central Kenya is evolving into a breeding ground for terrorism.

The region has become an important recruitment point for al-Shabaab terrorists.

AK-47 RIFLES

Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu and Kirinyaga counties are increasingly becoming prominent features in Kenya’s war against terrorism.

Central Kenya is also believed to be a transit point and hideout for terrorists.

Its geographical position and the stereotypical focus by residents and security agencies on northern and eastern Kenya as terrorist strongholds have allowed the group to sink its teeth deep in Mt Kenya.

Intelligence operatives believe counties in Mt Kenya have become favourite routes for terrorists from Somalia.

In February 2018, police in Merti, Isiolo County, intercepted a cache of weapons after an exchange of fire with a gang. 

A gang member was killed while two others were apprehended. 

Police seized five AK-47 rifles, 1,099 rounds of ammunition and 36 loaded magazines.

The vehicle transporting the deadly arsenal had about 100kg of high-grade explosive Trinitrotoluene  (TNT).

Police later said the car would have been used to hit a key government installation.

The bust revealed a new route being used by terrorists.

PSEUDONYMS

Intelligence services believe Mt Kenya is favoured as a hideout and strategising point for terrorist groups because of its proximity to Nairobi.

Kenyans are also not likely to associate the region with terrorism.

Nyeri County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia says the region’s agricultural and cultural setting is an advantage to radicalisation efforts as it makes intelligence gathering complicated.

“Sleeper cells operate in secrecy. Sometimes they do not even know one another or details of their missions,” Mr Shisia told the Nation.

“Usually they meet during the final stages of planning and this makes it difficult to track them.”

In the aftermath of the attack on the Dusit complex at 14 Riverside Drive in Nairobi, investigators focused on Nyeri County.

The background and recent activities of one of the key suspects, Ali Salim Gichunge, pointed directly to Nyeri.

Page 1 of 2