Multi Agency Response to International Terrorism in Kenya: A Comparison of Dusit D2 and Westgate Terror Attacks

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Musoma Albert Lusiola

Keywords

Multi Agency Response, International Terrorism in Kenya, Dusit D2 Attack, Westgate Mall Attack, Terror Response Coordination

Abstract

This study sets out to assess responses to international terrorism in Kenya. This stems out of the fact that the terrorism menace has had been a major security challenge facing the country. The study draws a comparison of the Dusit D2 and Westgate terror attacks. Data was collected from a purposive sample of academics as well as serving and retired diplomats, senior police officers and military personnel. Primary data was collected from the respondents using interviews. The findings show that the West gate shopping mall in 2013 and the DusitD2 Hotel attack in January 2019 are replete with major differences. A critical comparison between both attacks shows an immense difference in the response to the terrorist attacks in Westgate Mall and Dust D2. In both cases, there was prior intelligence of the looming attack. However, there was no clear policy framework on intelligence sharing between the various security agencies in Westgate. Additionally, policies on timely multiagency deployment were disjointed in Westgate but improved in Dusit D2. Although the friendly fire was recorded in Westgate, this was not the case in Westgate. There was also a lack of clear policies on hierarchical coordination between different security agencies in Westgate Mall as opposed to Dusit D2. The law had also been more enhanced with the domestication of the 2012 Prevention of Terrorism Act and the creation of the institutions enshrined therein during the Dusit D2 attack. Accountability mechanisms for security agencies had also been improved during the Dusit D2 attack as opposed to Westgate Mall attack where there were cases of indiscipline and looting by state security personnel. Coordination between government officials and security agencies was also smoother in the Dusit D2 attack. Although the terrorists could communicate for some time between themselves and their command center and share publicity information, this was not the case with Dusit D2 where such communication was curtailed immediately. In both attacks though, communication between victims and outside help was poor and unreliable, and false information was passed. This was more prone and documented in the Dusit D2 attack. It is recommended that multiagency response teams should constantly review their operation guidelines and standard operating procedures so as to deal with the ever-changing sophistication in terrorist attacks. The government should put in place ways aimed at checking disparities in capabilities and equipment among various tactical and intelligence teams in Kenya for a uniform response to terrorism. There is a need for multinational frameworks for undertaking financing and creation of joint information infrastructure for security agencies so as to reign in on international terrorism in the East African Region. Training should also be synchronized across security agencies.

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