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Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Kenya

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 31 July 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Kenya, 31 July 2012, available at: [accessed 21 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: The Kenyan government demonstrated increased political will to secure its borders, apprehend suspected terrorists, and cooperate with regional allies and the international community to counter terrorism. On October 16, in response to a series of kidnappings of Westerners, Kenya initiated military action in Somalia against al-Shabaab militants. Al-Shabaab responded to the Kenyan incursion into Somalia by threatening retaliation against civilian targets in Kenya. Arms smuggling, reports of extremist recruiting within refugee camps and Kenyan cities, and increased allegations of terrorist plotting enhanced recognition among government officials and civil society that Kenya remained vulnerable to terrorist attack. The government increased security along the Kenya/Somalia border in an effort to stem the flow of armed militants crossing into Kenya; however, al-Shabaab's continued dominance of most of southern Somalia provided a permissive environment for a small number of al-Qa'ida operatives to conduct training and terrorist planning with other violent extremists.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: No terrorist group claimed responsibility for the following attacks:

  • On October 14, two Spanish nationals working for a non-governmental organization were kidnapped in Dadaab refugee camp, in northeastern Kenya, where they remained in captivity at year's end.

  • In the early morning of October 24, a hand grenade was tossed into a night club in downtown Nairobi, injuring 14 Kenyan patrons. Later that day, another grenade exploded at a crowded bus stop, killing one and injuring 16 others.

  • On October 27, in the northeast, a vehicle carrying officials from the Ministry of Education was attacked, leaving four dead.

  • On October 28, a police vehicle was heavily damaged after driving over an explosive device.

  • On November 5, suspected al-Shabaab militants hurled grenades into a Pentecostal church in Garissa town, killing two people and seriously injuring five others. The same day, a police vehicle escorting a UN convoy to the Dadaab refugee camp sustained minimal damage when it hit an improvised explosive device.

  • On November 22, two police officers were injured when their vehicle was ambushed by suspected al-Shabaab militants near Liboi (near the Somali border).

  • On November 24, a military truck patrolling on the outskirts of Mandera struck a land mine, killing one soldier and seriously wounded five others. Later on the same day, a hotel and a shopping center in the northern town of Garissa were attacked with hand grenades, killing five and injuring several others.

  • On November 26, suspected al-Shabaab fighters raided a police post near Mandera seizing weapons and burning a mobile phone transmission mast. There were no injuries or deaths reported in the attack.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Kenya's lack of counterterrorism legislation hindered its ability to detain terrorist suspects and prosecute them effectively, and because there was no counterterrorism legislation, terrorist suspects were often prosecuted under other offenses, such as murder and weapons possession. With assistance from the United States, Kenya agreed to expand its Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) border control system to additional ports of entry and upgrade it to capture biometric information.

Kenya remained a critical partner for the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program; the Kenya program was of a relatively large size and scope. It focused on strengthening border security, enhancing investigative capacity, and building critical incident response capacity through training, mentoring, advising, and equipping Kenyan counterterrorism focused law-enforcement agencies.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Kenya is a member of the Eastern and Southern Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Kenya was publicly identified by the FATF in February 2010 for strategic anti-money laundering/ counterterrorist finance deficiencies. Kenya developed an action plan with the FATF to address these deficiencies, but in June 2011 was identified in the FATF Public Statement for its failure to make sufficient progress on this action plan.

Kenya has not passed or enacted any law criminalizing terrorist financing. Kenya does not have in place sufficient laws, regulatory structures, or the institutional capacity to track, seize, and confiscate the assets of al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups. The Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act (POCAMLA) came into operation in 2010, yet key policies and structures have not been implemented, and Kenya's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had not been established eighteen months after the POCAMLA was promulgated. Kenya made some progress, however, with the August 26 appointment of the Anti-Money Laundering Advisory Board, the oversight body that will guide the creation of the Financial Reporting Center (Kenya's FIU). While government representatives touted this action as a significant achievement and a demonstration of Kenya's commitment to combating financial crimes, they acknowledged the slow pace of implementation.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Kenya is a member of the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the Community of Eastern and Southern Africa, and the East African Community, and coordinated with these groups significantly during its military and diplomatic campaign against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. Kenyan law enforcement agencies worked closely with the international community to increase their counterterrorism abilities, secure porous land borders, and improve maritime security. The ATA program also provided support for Kenya's regional antiterrorism training center, encouraging both East and West African nations to increase their cooperation on regional counterterrorism initiatives.

Kenya and the United States signed a memorandum of intent with the objectives of consolidating and securing especially dangerous pathogens and enhancing the Kenyan government's capability to prevent the sale, theft, diversion, or accidental release of biological weapons-related materials, technology, and expertise.

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