Mombasa riots, Terrorism Bill and Psychological warfare

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Mombasa has been in chaos since the brutal murder of Sheikh Aboud Rogo on Monday. The following day, Tuesday, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012 was tabled in Parliament. Are the two connected or is it just a coincidence? The Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012 was withdrawn from parliament several weeks ago after it caused public uproar due to the freehand it gave police in the so called war on terror. The bill allowed the police to tap phone conversations of suspected terrorists, and to search and seize homes and properties suspected of housing terrorist activities. It also allowed the police to arrest and detain any person suspected of engaging in terrorist activities. It is feared that if enacted in its current form, the ambiguous definition of terrorism in the bill would lead to the rampant arrest and detainment of innocent Kenyans.  

The so called “war on terror” that was popularized by the United States government during the Bush administration, is primarily a tool of psychological warfare. The ruling capitalist class creates or takes advantage of any civil unrest in the country in order to heighten fear, suspicion and animosity among the masses. During this heightened state of fear, the state passes legislation which further disempowers the masses and infringes on their civil and human rights. Why, for instance, should someone defile our mothers by passing metal detectors over their sacred bodies as they enter churches and supermarkets? Because of the heightened state of fear, we quietly accept such forms of dehumanization under the illusion that it is for our own security. But in reality, these tactics do not improve our security; they only help the ruling capitalist class to fasten its grip on power and to maintain the status quo which continues to oppress the masses. Only now, instead of a critical and conscious population which keeps the state on its toes, there is a fearful population which, driven by a false sense of patriotism, supports the Kenya Defence Forces invasion of Somalia and the government’s purchase of a Ksh. 4 billion naval ship. Kenyans should wake up to the fact that the militarization of Kenya is a militarization against Kenyan themselves.

The ruling capitalist class in Kenya, in partnership with the international capitalist class, which has major interests in Kenya, has created or taken advantage of the current situation to further militarize the country against the masses. This is so as to ensure that when the revolutionary forces in Kenya arise, and they will surely arise, and organize beyond ethnic, class and religious bigotry, the ruling class will have the state machinery and propaganda to suppress the revolution. In other words, the ruling capitalist class and her foreign partners have strategically used the invasion of Somalia and the Mombasa riots to continue with the militarization of Kenya. This militarization further disempowers, dehumanizes and deceives the masses into thinking it is in their best interests.

The Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012 is being tabled in parliament at a very strategic time in our country. The riots in Mombasa have shocked and started to balkanize the masses and these are perfect conditions for the Bill to pass with little or no opposition. Kenyans need to recognize the set-up they are being put into, escape the snare of religious bigotry (as evidenced in social media sites) and vehemently oppose the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012. They also need to demand for the immediate withdrawal of the Kenyan troops from Somalia. The war in Somalia is a fabricated one and it belongs to the United States and not Kenya. This is why the US has pumped millions of dollars into Amisom (African Union Mission in Somalia).

Posted by Muoki Mbunga 

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I agree and disagree with you in almost equal measure.. I mostly disagree.

The war on terrorism is NOT a so called war… I think you would have to have lost a loved one to terrorist acts to understand that its real.:-/ I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Terrorism is real and I am a woman who has no problem being searched.

I however agree with you that the timing of the re-introduction of the bill is suspect. I hope (and this is a long shot) that some sober minded MPs will request for the necessary amendments.

About the government acquiring military armor to attack it’s citizen… That right there is what I call a conspiracy theory. And consiparcy theories should never be presented as facts… Because they too have the power to cause more harm than good.
Perhaps, the government is merely aligning itself to the realist school of thought – the world is at constant war and each state should strive to be militarily superior than its neighbors.

Something you didn’t mention though: The war on terror in Kenya was sudden and unfortunately has created negative stereotypes against the Muslim community in our beloved country… Something that will be hard to undo, especially after the recent violence in Mombasa.

Interesting read though.

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Lady Aiyanna,

It is important for Kenyans to start asking themselves certain questions:

1. Who is a terrorist, what is terrorism and who is defining these terms for us?
2. Who is Al-Shabaab and who is Al-Qaeda? But even more importantly, from whom are we getting our information?
3. Whose interests is Kenya promoting through her invasion of Somalia? War is very expensive and so who is funding KDF and why?

Okay, so let’s say Al-Shabaab are “terrorists” and they engage in “terrorist activities” in Kenya. Fine. But then what do we call NATO’s invasion of Libya in 2011 which led to the death of thousands of Libyans including their head of state who was also allegedly sodomized? Charles Taylor was recently convicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, and Laurent Gbagbo is facing similar charges. Fine. But isn’t George Bush guilty of the same offence for overseeing US military activities in Afghanistan and Iraq? Kenyans and Africans need to seriously reflect on these issues and find alternative sources of information other than mainstream media which is depressingly un-analytical. For example, there is strong evidence showing that Osama bin Laden was trained by the US government to lead their undercover military operations in Pakistan in the 90s. During that time, he was an undercover security agent; he only became a “terrorist” when he began working against the US government. My point is that we need to be more critical of the information and events we witness around us.

You call it a conspiracy theory but the plan to re-militarize Kenya and Africa is a hard reality, and it will lead to the continued disempowerment and dehumanization of Kenyans. Why, for instance, should Kenya buy a Ksh. 4 billion war ship yet teachers are on strike due to poor salaries? Kenya needs a humane government which promotes and protects our dignity and humanity. It is inhumane for our military budget to be bigger than the health and education budgets. Who cares for military superiority when teachers, doctors and lecturers are on strike? Instead of spending billions of shillings trying to be “militarily superior to her neighbors”, as you put it, Kenya should spend more time and energy improving the lives of her citizens and promoting peace, love and nationhood across different ethnic, class and religious lines.

Natukae na undugu, amani na uhuru. Raha tupate na ustawi!

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Lady Aiyanna,

Allow me to take you on just on one of the issues you have raised-that the war on terror is NOT so called “War on Terror”. I am also glad you mentioned the realist perspective whose synonym should just be militarization. The term ‘terrorism” remains one of the most contested terms within international security. Those “fighting terror” have in themselves kept defining terrorism to fit certain interests. It might be useful to dig into when discontent with some hegemonic tendencies started so we can unmask the phenomenon. However, we must, with the same gusto, condemn religious fundamentalism which has made some of us lose loved ones to terrorist acts.

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I find this article interesting, as an American citizen. The Bush administration certainly did use fear tactics on all of us so that most Americans, who are woefully uninformed, truly believe that our military actions are ‘peace keeping’ actions and that these actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, are keeping us safe here in the USA. {Fred, I believe you can corroborate on that point}. That being said, our stepped up domestic security measures never existed before the attack on Sept.9, 2001. The new security checks at airports, at huge gatherings of people in stadiums, where thousands gather for sports or large festivals, are in direct response to that tragic event. Also, we have had the shoe-bomber on a plane as well as a number of mentally deranged people who have had access to guns and murdered dozens of people, including children, in schools, movie theaters. Despite that, you do not see police carrying guns in our malls, our supermarkets, our parking lots, our churches, mosques, temples or in our theaters. At large events, it is often a hired civilian, unarmed, who looks briefly inside any large bag being carried into a big public event. We are not scoped with hand-held devices at these events, that I know of, only at airports, just as in other countries. Lately, we just walk through a detector with no hand-held wand used at all.
What I am saying is, since other countries do not know how the USA is practicing anti-terrorist tactics here in the US, is it possible that these countries have made incorrect assumptions and fashioned their own anti-terrorist protection system, based on what they think we are doing here? Each country, each culture must assess its own dangers within its borders, to see how to best protect those who live and visit there. For example, what works in Uganda, may not be helpful in Spain or Ghana. To blame another country, that the tactics they employ within their own borders are the cause of another country’s problem with maintaining peace in its home, is missing the point and not tackling the real problem. Another important point is that police must be accountable to a non-partisan judicial system with a jury made up of citizens, randomly chosen , to keep the police from becoming a puppet of any one political group. And that court and that jury must also be accountable to a higher court, if justice is not being served. That is the system in the USA. Many police have lost their jobs if found guilty of exercising violence against citizens. Some have been incarcerated.

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Harmonia,

I was in Carousel Mall in Syracuse, NY, only this past Saturday and I saw a significant number of armed police officers! The absence of hand-held wands in America is not necessarily a mark of less-intrusive security measures, but a testament of the highly-advanced levels of militarization in this country. For instance, the numerous metal detectors I recently went through in Chicago’s O’hare International Airport, are in my view, even more intrusive and more dangerous than the hand-held wands. Isn’t one exposed to even more radiation?

Nevertheless, the “stepped up security measures” you refer to, might not have existed before 9/11 but US imperialism certainly did. 9/11 only gave US imperialism a perfect opportunity to evolve into the current blatant disregard for the humanity and dignity of African and other non-white peoples in the world. My issue is not merely with American people, but with their racist and oppressive foreign policies which bully and dehumanize Africans and other non-white people in this world. You might not know this, but the first anti-terrorism bill in Kenya which was tabled in parliament in 2003, was drafted in Washington by US government officials. It is only serious lobbying by the peace and justice movement in Kenya which saw the bill rejected by parliamentarians for being too “Americanized”. This is just one of many examples of the “big-brother” role the United States government plays in the so called “global war on terrorism”.

American citizens have the responsibility of taking their government to task over these issues. They should ask themselves and their government these questions:

1. Who is a terrorist, what is terrorism and are we consistent with these definitions?
2. Has our government engaged in local terrorist activities such as racialized police brutality?
3. Has our government engaged in international terrorist activities in the name of “exporting democracy” to “failed” or “undemocratic” states such as Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq?
4. Has our government supported international terrorism by supporting governments and leaders who are guilty of crimes against humanity such as Israel, apartheid South Africa etc?

Militarization is not an African problem but a global problem which needs urgent address. In America, the problem is made even more complex by systemic racial discrimination and religious fundamentalism. The killing of Trayvon Martin, several months ago, is an offshoot of this militarization which dehumanizes society and produces trigger-happy security agents who are all too ready and willing to shoot black and brown people; even if they are 17 year olds, unarmed, on their way home and carrying skittles.

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