Friday, January 27, 2012

Radicalization of Kenyan Muslims

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 25 January 2012 an excellent analysis titled Kenyan Somali Islamist Radicalisation that lays out the concerns for the Somali Muslim community in Kenya. There is also a significant Swahili Muslim community in Kenya, which is not the focus on this analysis.

ICG argues that the militant al-Shabaab movement has built a cross-border presence and a clandestine support network among Muslim populations in the northeast, Nairobi and along the Swahili coast. It is trying to radicalize and recruit youth from these communities, often capitalizing on long-standing grievances against the national government. This problem could grow more severe with the October 2011 intervention into Somalia by Kenyan military forces.

Radicalization is a grave threat to Kenya's security and stability. It would be a mistake, however, to respond to the challenge solely through a counterterrorism strategy.

The ICG proposes the following Kenyan government response:
  • Recognize that a blanket or draconian crackdown on Kenyan Somalis, or Kenyan Muslims in general, would radicalize more individuals and add to the threat of domestic terrorism.
  • Although there is a link between radicalization and terrorism,countertrerrorism tactics aimed only at stopping al-Shabaab and other militant groups should not become the only official response.
  • Allocate additional developmental resources to North Eastern Province.
  • Study madrases, perhaps through a local university, to learn which are most radical and influential, both to better understand the problem of radicalization and to moderate extremist teachings; create a Muslim Advisory Council of respected leaders, open to hardliners, but representing all Kenyan Muslims.
  • Develop a process, with community input, for selection of a Grand Mufti in Kenya.

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