The Kenyan government has admitted that the country is still under the threat of terrorist attacks given the existence of active al-Qaeda cells in neighboring Somalia.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said that the sophisticated militias operating in Somalia loathed Israeli and Western interests in the country and thus the need for Kenya’s security personnel to get the best counter-terrorism training.
“Since 1991 Somalia has not known peace and now with the emergence of al Qaida threats in the world, Kenya is not out of danger because the terrorists are actively operating in the neighborhood and can sneak in through our porous border,” he said.
The Daily Nation newspaper reported Thursday that the minister, who was speaking late Wednesday when he bid farewell to 25 District Commissioners (DCs) and Administration Police officers going for a one-week training in Israel, said that Kenya has had good relations with Israel.
“We both share borders with very hostile neighbors,” he said, adding that the Israeli military played a big role in Kenya during the 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi, the 2002 Kikambala bombing in Mombasa and the collapse of a house under construction along Ronald Ngala street in Nairobi.
Early this week, the minister issued an ultimatum to the Somali Islamists fighting the transitional government of Somalia to unconditionally return two Italian Catholics nuns they abducted a week ago in northeastern Kenya town of Mandera.
Saitoti on late Tuesday said that the government will be relentless in protecting its borders from Somali militant attacks.
“They stole three government vehicles, are you now telling me that we should sit down and let those people to come and violate our borders,” Saitoti told journalists in Nairobi.
But speaking on Wednesday, Saitoti reminded the officers that the government in partnership with Israel is investing in them: “Don’t go there for merrymaking. Take advantage of the opportunity and return home with an edge in the fight against terrorism and other sophisticated crimes,” he advised.
He also told the DCs to learn about agriculture and establish why Israel, a desert country, managed to be agriculturally self-sufficient, with surplus produce for export.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since clan-based warlords overthrew a socialist dictator in 1991.