Beliefs and actions of individuals and groups who support or use violence to achieve ideological, religious or political goals are what are considered as violent extremists.
These extremists use terrorism, forms of ideologically and politically motivated violence and some forms of communal violence.
They also seek change through fear and intimidation rather than legal and democratic processes.
In recent years, however, Kenya has been the target for terrorists, most incidences that have left hundreds of both men and women in uniform alongside civilians killed.
And as the world commemorates International Day of Peace, Kenya is also marking eight years since the attack on a Nairobi shopping Centre, Westgate which left at least 67 dead.
According to Dr.Mustaafa Ali, Security expert at National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Kenya was put on high alert amid fears of possible attacks by militants in countering violent extremists.
“Kenya has made tremendous strides since the Westgate attack back in 2013. When those magnitude murderers walked into Westgate hotel and brutally murdered Kenyans and effectively, basically just desecrating the name of Islam religion they claim to be fighting for,” said Dr.Mustaafa Ali, during an interview with KTN News.
The siege at Westgate lasted four days, with CCTV footage showing terrified shoppers fleeing the gunmen and cowering behind counters.
Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said it carried out the attack in response to Kenya’s military operations in Somalia.
To address violent extremism threat, NCTC has engaged the communities through County Action Plans (CAPs) which was implemented by The National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism (NSCVE) through various government security agencies.
“So, every county in this country has a plan which they actually working with our county security and intelligence committee with the population,” said Dr. Oscar Githua, a Forensic Psychologist at NCTC in an interview with KTN News.
Dr.Githua said one of the ways to secure the country is by securing the mental health of its citizens.
In the 2016 National Strategy to Combat Violent Extremism, the Kenyan Government mandated counties to develop County Action Plans (CAPs) to support national CVE efforts at the local level.
From June 26 to July 4, 2019, the Strong Cities Network (SCN) team ran consultation exercises with three counties in Kenya that included Nakuru, Isiolo and Lamu to see how they are faring with their mandate and identify where the SCN can support.
With Nairobi standing out as a home to many strategic installations such the National Assembly, State House and important United Nations Agencies such as the UNEP, are seen as attractive targets to the violent extremists according to the Nairobi County Action Plan.
Nairobi has a high rate of unemployment amongst the youth who can be easily be lured into violent extremism due to their financial challenges.
The Action Plan which was released in July 2020, said, Nairobi is Kenya’s political hub and and may therefore be a target for terror incidents, which aim at getting the attention of the world.
Kenya has suffered a series of terrorist attacks with 2015 going down in history as one of the worst years when gunmen stormed Garissa University College in Garissa, killing 148 people.
To date survivors, individuals, families, communities have been traumatized by terrorist acts while many others have been left with permanent scars.
World Peace Day marked every September 21, is completely devoted in promoting global solidarity for building a peaceful and sustainable world.
The day also seeks to remind people and nations to think about the importance of universal peace.