Kenya’s Harsh Counterterrorism Tactics Risk Stoking Extremism

Kenya’s Harsh Counterterrorism Tactics Risk Stoking Extremism
Armed special forces aim their weapons at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya after gunmen threw grenades and opened fire during an attack that left multiple dead and dozens wounded, Sept. 21, 2013 (AP photo by Khalil Senosi).

In recent months, Kenya has increased its crackdown on Islamic extremism, including mosque raids and alleged extrajudicial killings. In an email interview, Jeremy Prestholdt, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, discussed Kenya’s counterterrorism policies.

WPR: What is Kenya’s current approach to counterterrorism, and how effective has it been at tackling terrorism threats?

Jeremy Prestholdt: In recent years Kenya has experienced a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks. This escalation is closely linked to Kenyan military actions against al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia. In the wake of Kenya’s 2011 offensive, al-Shabab and its sympathizers in Kenya initiated a terror campaign that ruthlessly targeted civilians, from travelers to churchgoers and shoppers at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.

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