Our country and our people are under attack. A war has been waged against ALL Kenyans by an enemy hiding behind religion, and much innocent blood has been shed. Kenya has been subjected to a long history of murder and violence at the hand of bandits, terrorists and extremists.
For over two decades now, Kenya has endured immense vulnerability owing to the collapse of the Somalia Government in 1991. This led to civil war in that country, and provided space for bandits to roam the entire region at will.
This space became ideal for terrorists to train and plan far-reaching attacks in the region, continent and even abroad. From Somalia, they inflicted murder and mayhem with impunity everywhere they went. Kenya has, by far, borne the brunt of these terrorist attacks.
In August 1998, 200 Kenyans were murdered by terrorists when they detonated a bomb at the US Embassy in Nairobi. In November, 2002, terrorists struck in Kikambala, Kilifi county, claiming over a dozen lives.
Since then, a spate of attacks and abductions threatened our people and the economy, violated our territorial integrity and insulted our sovereignty. More recently, there has been a series of terror attacks, culminating in the violence and murder at the Westgate Mall in September last year, and the murders early this morning in Mandera. These terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of more than 500 civilians and 300 security officers.
After decades of horror, fear, outrage and frustration, we resolved as a nation to protect our overeignty by pursuing our enemies beyond our borders into Somalia. By mid-2011, it had become abundantly clear that our long border with an ungoverned territory teeming with violent criminals was a threat to our national stability. Joining military efforts to bring peace to Somalia was the inevitable answer to our terror and security threats. In October, 2011, the Government authorized the KDF to pursue the Al Shabaab militia into Somalia.
This decision was right then, and remains so today. Following requests by regional, continental and global actors, KDF joined AMISOM in February 2012. We remain part of the African Union mission to date.
The incursion in Somalia has been largely successful. Al-Shabaab is depleted and on the retreat. However, even in its diminished state, it remains a threat to our nation. In desperation, it formally affiliated itself in 2012 to Al Qaeda, the international terrorist group.
This way, they secured resources and ability to infiltrate civilian populations and recruit, then radicalize Kenyan youths to execute attacks within our communities. This is why we have witnessed intensified extremist rhetoric against the KDF campaign in Somalia as well as support for murder and impunity. This reprehensible rhetoric has embraced Al Qaeda’s extremist ideas of setting up an Islamic Caliphate in East Africa.
Places of worship have become fertile places for recruitment and several Mosques have been taken over by radicalized terrorist sympathizers and accomplices.
All recent attacks bear the terrorists’ signature. Last week’s bus attack was accompanied by typical terrorist rhetoric. Last night, a terrorist attack that would have wrought unspeakable devastation was successfully repulsed in Wajir. Today’s attack in Mandera targeted a soft area, leaving 36 Kenyans dead. These attacks follow a pattern identical to the attacks on Christians in Lamu, the sporadic attacks in Mombasa, Kwale, Garissa and Tana River.
The obvious intent is to create hostility and suspicion across ethnic and religious lines and to drive non-Muslims from certain parts of this country. The ultimate aim of this atrocious campaign is to establish an extremist caliphate in our region.
A time has come for each and everyone of us to decide and choose. Are youon the side of an open, free, democratic Kenya which respects the rule of law, sanctity of life and freedom of worship, or do you stand with repressive, intolerant and murderous extremists?
Terrorism and violent crime are grave threats to our nation. We are in a war against terrorists in and outside our country. With the aid of sympathizers, supporters and collaborators among our communities, terrorists have retaliated viciously to deter us from our determined, effective and successful effort to rid the Horn of Africa of terrorism and violent extremism. We will not flinch or relent in the war against terrorism in our country and our region. We shall continue to inflict painful casualties on these terrorists until we secure our country and region. Our stability and prosperity depends on a secure neighbourhood. This is our commitment.
We ask every Kenyan to take a principled stand against the evil of terror, and to support this war. We are in this together, all the way.
Innocent Kenyan lives have been lost, in a most harrowing manner, to these animals. Too many lives, too painfully snuffed out. Again, I extend condolences to the families of all Kenyans who lost their lives in the hands of terrorists. My Government continues to extend support to you, and we pray that God gives you His divine solace, and comforts each of you in this painful moment.
In our shock, bitterness and outrage, many Kenyans, leaders included, have lost sight of the context of this situation, and the scale of the war on terror.
Kenya is at war. Our enemy thrives on sowing panic and despondency in our hearts. We aid this enemy when we succumb to suspicion, fear, finger-pointing and blame-games.
Terrorists’ efforts bear fruit a hundredfold when we see things their way: with countenances of fear, anger and despair. We become their unwitting accomplices when we doubt, and we come to their aid when we shout at each other. This is a war against Kenya, and Kenyans. It is not a war against the Jubilee Government or its leaders. It is a war that every one of us must fight. Our bickering only emboldens the enemy.
Our national conversation, whatever its temper, is facilitated by our media. The media must step back from being an inert funnel of sentiments, opinions and messages, and become a true mediator and an honest broker of the national discourse. The media must not allow intemperate, intolerant, divisive, alarmist and stigmatizing views.
Ideas that profile and victimize communities and individuals serve the precise aims of our enemies. Media serving as a platform for destructive and toxic interaction is dangerous for our nationhood. I urge the media to help Kenya develop a sober, bipartisan consensus on matters of national importance, where we may confer as a national family without sacrificing our democracy, freedom of opinion or robust debate.
I must address myself at this point to our Muslim community. Muslims are a hardworking, and peaceful community. Their contribution to nation building is indispensable. We ask you to continue standing with your country and compatriots as always, and not to give in to the desires of terrorists who may use your religion to manipulate or coerce you. All Kenyans understand Islam to be a religion of peace, because Allah is All- Gracious and merciful.
Without a doubt, terrorists who claim to kill in the name of Allah are neither Muslims nor Godly people, but deranged animals who have lost their souls and minds. Stay true to your religious tradition of tolerance and respect for all people. We depend on your support in our war against violent extremism and terror.
I also want to reach out, in a special way, to county governments, and especially those whose counties border Somalia. Let us never forget that as leaders, we are all sworn to protect the sovereignty of this nation.
I remind you of your responsibility to work with the national Government in keeping our country and people safe. Your interactions with the grassroots place you in a vantage for purposes of preventing attacks and peace-buildingwithin and among our communities. As always, we will keep a listening ear at all times to take your input on board.
Let us all pull together as one nation: to comfort the afflicted and bereaved, to confront the terrorists and to build a stronger, more tranquil and happier nation.
As President and the Commander-in-Chief of our Defence Forces, I hurt with you, and grieve with you very deeply. I continuously consult and review concrete strategies to make every part of this country safe for every Kenyan. I remain confident that our short, medium and long-term plans are feasible and appropriate, and that in due course, our security situation will turn around.
My Government has invested heavily in terms of increasing the recruitment of security personnel and improving their welfare, providing vehicles for our security services, equipping them with the hardware and technology needed to keep Kenya safe. We will continue to increase investment in this sector until our country and citizens are secure.
Despite this progress, we acknowledge some weaknesses in our security architecture. In light of this, last week, I directed my Government’s security actors to engage with the members of the relevant committees of the legislature, with a view to rectify administrative and legal hurdles that limit our ability to deal with the very real and existential threat that we face.
On Thursday this week, I expect a final report of their deliberations and recommendations for my consideration and further action. To this end, I have written to the National Assembly to ask them to extend their sitting until this process is concluded.
Recognizing that the war on terrorism requires all of us, I also call upon other arms of Government, particularly the Judiciary and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to work with us and seal all gaps that hinder the effective operations to secure the country.
Dear Kenyans, As we intensify the war on terrorism, I acknowledge the thousands of our men and women in uniform. They continue to serve this nation diligently in difficult and trying circumstances.
We have lost hundreds of them as they work to defend us. For this reason, I urge all Kenyans to support and pray for our security forces at all times. Earlier today, I held a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Kimaiyo, a man who has served this nation with dedication and commitment.
Mr David Kimaiyo offered to retire and I have accepted the retirement request. I therefore take this opportunity to thank Mr David Kimaiyo for his many years of service to our nation.
Further to this, I have nominated Hon. Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery as the new Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government. I hope the National Assembly will expedite the process of his vetting and approval.
I know we are all under a lot of pressure, but I appeal to each one of us: this is not a time to be cowed by the enemy. I also call on all leaders to stand together and confront this enemy. This is a war we must win.
We must win it together. In times like this, Kenyans must unite and stand for Kenya. Thank you and God bless you.