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Gov’t Launches Public Portal to Address Issues of Violent Extremism 

The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Tuesday launched a public information portal to increase public awareness on the threat of violent extremism.

The agency said “Jasiri observatory” which translates to “resilience observatory” will be used to sensitize, inform and empower individuals and communities to understand and respond to violent ideologues peddled by extremists groups.

The portal was launched at Garissa University during the commemoration of the 2015 Garissa University attack that occurred nine years ago.

Early morning of April 2, 2015, four al Shabaab militants staged an attack at the then constituent college of Moi University and by the time the siege ended after 12 hours, 148 Kenyans lay dead.

The attack was one of Kenya’s worst terror attacks since Kenya’s military crossed the border in 2011 to pursue the terror outfits inside Somalia. The attack was the second-deadliest attack in Kenya.

Since the attack took place, Kenya’s security agencies have also revamped their operations to better curb and prevent terrorism.

This includes the strengthening of Multi-Agency security operations between National Intelligence Service (NIS) and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), the formation of specialised police units at the border (SOG, QRU), and heavy investment in community led approaches like Community Policing and Nyumba Kumi, to eliminate potential recruitment.

The agencies are also relying on among others technology to fight the plans of the terror gangs.

NCTC Director Dr Rosalind Nyawira called on Kenyans to explore the portal to learn more on violent extremism and ways in which they can avoid falling prey to radical ideologies aimed at propagating hate, fear and violence in society.

“Violent extremism is a threat to National Security. This portal empowers individuals and communities to identify and discredit violent extremists ideologies, facilitating public dialogue on the threat of violent extremism.”

“We want Kenyans to speak out against violent extremism through this portal hence the appellation “Jasiri” which is Kiswahili for resilience,” she said.

Nyawira said NCTC chose April 2 to launch the portal, as the day provides an opportune moment for Kenyans to reflect on the strides made towards making the country safe from terrorism and violent extremism.

During the attack at the institution, 148 individuals lost their lives as 80 others were left wounded.

The portal will act as a public repository for anyone seeking to learn various manifestations of violent extremism.

“It will also strengthen efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism, a process that involves directly addressing the underlying drivers of terrorism using non-coercive strategies including counter messaging, public outreach and de-radicalisation programmes,” she said.

The portal will further aid in the implementation of the upcoming national strategy to counter violent extremism.

Violent extremism has emerged as a leading threat in the country.

The four gunmen behind the university attack were killed by Kenyan forces at the scene, while three others, Rashid Charles Mberesero, Mohamed Ali Abikar, and Hassan Edi Hassan, were convicted in court for aiding and abetting the massacre and being members of al shabaab group.

The mastermind behind the attack, Mohamed Kuno, was killed in Somalia in 2016.

Four years later, the court sentenced a militant Islamist to life in prison for his role while two others were jailed for 41 years each.

The three had earlier been found guilty of conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack and of belonging to al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.

Last year two of the convicts got relief after the court quashed two counts that they were sentenced to serve 15 years, meaning they will now serve 26 years.

In their appeal, they argued that the sentence of 41 years was harsh and excessive.

The court ruled there was no evidence to prove that the two were members of al Shabaab.

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