U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Kenya

Kenya and the United States maintained generally good cooperation against terrorism throughout 2006, to the mutual benefit of both countries. Kenya was a capable and willing partner and took steps to interdict and apprehend terror suspects. Its cooperation, however, was uneven and constrained by domestic political pressures and considerations. Key among these were Kenyan Muslim and ethnic-Somali communities unsympathetic to cooperation with the United States, an inadequate legal and regulatory framework, and concerns about possible retribution from Somali Islamic extremists.

Kenya proved itself a solid and proactive partner during the Somali crisis that began in December, when Islamic extremists fleeing the Ethiopian advance threatened Kenya's national security. Kenya's borders remained porous and vulnerable to movement of potential terrorists as well as small arms and other contraband. In response to the crisis in Somalia, Kenya deployed its forces along its border with Somalia and at sea to apprehend fleeing CIC extremist fighters and prevent them from establishing safe haven in Kenya. Beginning in late 2006, the Kenyan government banned all flights to and from Somalia except for humanitarian aid flights and flights to the TFG's center of Baidoa. The order remained in effect, despite objections from growers of miraa, or qat, who were deprived of their main market (Somalia) by the ban.

Important Kenyan officials spoke out publicly about the dangers of terrorism and key elements of the Kenyan security apparatus took concrete steps to increase counterterrorism efforts, including the formation of an interagency Coastal Security Steering Committee. At the same time, however, political and bureaucratic resistance remained to the formation of an interagency Kenyan Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Kenya still lacked counterterrorism legislation. In April 2003, Kenya published a draft "Suppression of Terrorism Bill," only to withdraw it after harsh criticism from human rights groups and Kenyan Muslim communities. The Kenyan government wrote another draft of the bill in May, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, but did not officially publish the document or submit it to Parliament. In the absence of such legislation, it is difficult to detain terror suspects and to prosecute them effectively. Nonetheless, ATA-trained police investigators and counterterrorism prosecutors were credited with the re-arrest and successful prosecution of Kikambala bombing suspect Omar Said Omar after his acquittal on the main terrorism charge.1 Omar was subsequently found guilty on April 4 and sentenced for illegal possession of a firearm, ammunition, and explosives.

The government made some progress on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In November, the government published the text of the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering Bill for public comment and it is expected to be submitted to Parliament in March 2007. The Central Bank of Kenya issued guidelines effective January 1, 2007, under Section 33K of the Central Bank of Kenya Act, to strengthen controls over foreign exchange bureaus to regulate their use of third party checks and telegraphic transfers, transactions that may have previously been used for money laundering or terrorist finance. Kenya took a major step to combat money laundering through the closure of Charterhouse Bank.

Senior Kenyan officials made clear their desire to achieve a Safe Skies agreement, but much work remained to be done to bring Kenya up to international standards. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration training efforts in recent years improved aviation security, but consistent planning and enforcement of security procedures remained a challenge in 2006, particularly at Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Security improved, however, at Kenya's main air entry point, Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

1 Fifteen people were killed in the 2002 bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya.


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