Kenyan authorities are concerned that terrorists like the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab may launch another Kenya attack during Pope Francis’ Africa tour. After the devastating Paris attacks, Kenya’s Defense Forces (KDF) are stepping up their security measures in order to prepare for the Catholic leader’s visit.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, some have compared the Paris terrorist attacks against Kenya’s attack back on April 2, 2015, which resulted 147 people being killed and 79 injured at Garissa University College.
Shortly after members of ISIS stormed the streets of France, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta related the history of Kenya’s terrorist attacks to the tragic event, claiming any “similar outrage” should be met with the “strongest action by our security forces.”
“Today, as in the years past, the people and the government of Kenya stand with France at a moment in which our common humanity has been attacked in Paris by terrorists, and innocent civilians murdered in cold blood,” he said in a statement. “We stand with them, in sorrow for their losses, but also with resolve to join them in fighting terrorist organisations and networks until democracy and liberty can be free from their evil threat.”
Kenyatta says Kenya is ready to help France and the rest of the world as they begin strikes against ISIS. He says Kenya stands ready to continue the war on terror against terrorist groups and their support networks.
Pope Francis also spoke out about the Paris attacks, saying it was a “blasphemy” for Muslims to justify violence and murder in the name of Allah.
“Such barbarity leaves us dismayed, and we ask ourselves how the human heart can plan and carry out such horrible events,” the pope said to visitors in St. Peter’s Square. “The path of violence and hatred cannot resolve the problems of humanity, and using the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy.”
Pope Francis also said there can be no “religious or human” excuse for killing innocent people during a terrorist attack. “This is not human,” he said.
Pope Francis’ Kenya Tour
Starting on November 25, 2015, Pope Francis plans on visiting multiple nations in Africa beginning with Kenya. According to Catholic News, Vatican City has released a schedule detailing what the Catholic leader plans on doing during each step of the six-day trip.
Starting on Wednesday, November 25, Pope Francis’ Kenya tour begins with a welcoming ceremony in Nairobi where he will visit with President Kenyatta. The pope will also give a speech after meeting with Kenyan government officials.
The next day, Pope Francis will meet with interreligious and ecumenical representatives at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi. After a speech, the pope will give mass at the University of Nairobi. In the afternoon, Pope Francis will meet give more public speeches at he St. Mary’s School and the United Nations Office in Nairobi.
On Friday morning, Pope Francis will visit the Kangemi neighborhood in Nairobi, meet with the youth at Kasarani Stadium, and then attend a longer private meeting in the stadium with the bishops of Kenya. That evening, the pope will depart for Uganda after attending a farewell ceremony at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Pope Francis Death Threat?
Previous reports indicated that it is “almost certain active al-Shabaab cells in the country will attempt to stage attacks on high-profile targets at some point in the future.” According to Standard Media, Inspector General Joseph Boinett is tightening up Kenya’s security after the Paris attacks, but he is also calling on Kenyans to help during Pope Francis’ visit to Kenya.
“Whilst we the police have stepped up vigilance, we call on the public to exercise maximum level of alertness,” Boinnet said. “The same threat remains real in our country. I urge everyone to report any suspicious activity and/or persons to the police or any security agency for action.”
Kenya’s Attack On al-Shabaab Destroys Camps
Ever since the KDF deployed troops into Somalia in order to hunt down al-Shabaab, the number of incidents involving militant Islamic groups has increased from 41 attacks in 2011 up to 115 Kenya terrorist attacks in 2014 alone. The al-Qaeda-linked group was responsible for the terrorist attack on Garissa University College, but they also killed 67 people during an assault on Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall. The Islamic militants also launched several offensives in 2014 that left more than 100 people dead.
The United States recently announced a $27 million USD reward for information on the al-Shabaab leaders, but some reports by AFP claim the KDF is cooperating with the terrorist group in the illegal sugar and charcoal trade.
“The most disturbing thing is the implication that the Kenyan security services is essentially in business with al-Shabab,” said John Githongo, a former senior anti-corruption official in the Kenyan government. The report says that, “rather than taking the fight to al-Shabaab,” the KDF are “sitting in bases while senior commanders are engaged in corrupt business practices with the Jubaland administration and al-Shabaab.”
Colonel David Obonyo, a spokesperson for Kenya’s army, denies these allegations and claims that the world will be seeing some of these corrupt Kenyans in court soon.
“How can you sit down with [al Shabaab] one minute, and the next you are killing each other?” asked Obonyo.
Kenya’s attack on al-Shabaab has also produced results in recent weeks. According to Reuters, combined security forces flushed out the Boni Forest during an operation which started two months ago. They discovered five different al-Shabaab camps within the forest, destroyed them, and turned in any weapons to the government. But Kenya’s attack on the terrorists is not expected to end soon, with officials claiming the operation could take three months more than originally planned.
[Photo by CJ Gunther-Pool / Getty Images]