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September 3, 2021

Fewer Kenyan youth are joining Al Shabaab

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Preventing violent extremism effectively demands a resilience practice in society. This is basically a community understanding how people can be part of preventing violent extremist groups from operating.

Since the military’s deployment to Somalia, Kenya has felt an increase in violent attacks by Somali-based Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, commonly known as al-Shabaab and the radicalization of youth. This is due to some of the youth feeling angered by the heavy-handed security response to growing levels of violent extremism, leaving them vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment. With this in mind, there is a need for effective prevention alternatives to traditional law enforcement and intelligence approaches to violent extremism and terrorism.

Kenyan counterterrorism officials are constantly engaging the youth to help sensitize the community against violent extremism and to assist former al-Shabaab fighters to reintegrate into society.

Recent reports from security agencies in Kenya suggest that fewer youth are crossing over to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab thus a sign that counterterrorism measures are working.

For more than a decade, the militant group has used local and historical grievances to get Kenyan young people to join its violent activities, especially in areas like Majengo area in Nairobi, the coast and northeastern regions of Kenya. Sadly, a number of Kenyan youths are still fighting alongside al-Shabaab in Somalia, but increased security operations and awareness campaigns inside Somalia and the above-mentioned regions have reduced youth recruitment into extremist groups drastically.

Through community resilience, new processes, norms, and strategies are adopted for conducting people’s lives and new societal relationships in response to violent extremism in order to prevent, mitigate, or recover from violence.