Tuesday, July 13, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

July 13, 2010

My heartfelt condolences must go to those families in Uganda that have lost their loved ones through that senseless killing of innocent Ugandans and other foreigners on a day they were supposed to enjoy a good game of soccer. Some deranged terrorist in his twisted mind decided to take their lives.

My sincere words of comfort must also go to the victims of multiple bombings in Kampala that left then injured and possibly maimed for life. On behalf of all my friends in Kenya, our prayers are with you as we wish you speedy recovery.

Hardly a month has passed since a similar bomb blast hit Nairobi’s Uhuru Park in the dying minutes of a Christian rally on that fateful Sunday. Now, this week, it was the turn of our brothers and sisters in Kampala. What a terrible loss to our region! Are we being held hostage to barefoot gun wielding terrorists next door? Why are we allowing this to happen this often? Are we that helpless as partner states of the East African Community?

I have read details of how the Kampala explosions were planned. The terrorists chose crowded venues to inflict maximum damage just like they did in Nairobi. And like in Nairobi, they chose innocent unsuspecting crowds; what one can safely call easy targets.

At the time the last Nairobi bombing took place, my mind raced ahead of my logic. I thought of the Al Shababs or Al Qaida. The reason I thought of them was the manner the bombs went off; timed at intervals to suggest that these were not suicide bombers; those dare devils that do not value their lives. These were guys with remote detonators that could very well have planted bombs earlier in their target venues then retreated to their hideouts to execute their heinous crimes.

Though I was a lone ranger, I hypothesized that the latest Nairobi bombings must have been planned and executed by Islamic terrorists; people who hated Christianity to have chosen to attack a Christian gathering. Though farfetched, I thought a Christian rally that attacked the inclusion of the Kadhis’ courts in Kenya’s new constitution could have been the motive. However, my editor thought I was alarmist since I had no evidence to insinuate such a thing.

Now that the same suspects have celebrated the Kampala tragedy, I have these feelings that these are the same thugs that bombed Uhuru Park in Nairobi last month; after all they have been bombing Nairobi since 1980 almost every other decade only that they have become more frequent.

The twin bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 followed by the Kikambala Hotel in Mombasa are still very fresh in our minds when they then targeted American Embassies and Israelis touring Kenya. And in those tragic incidents, their targets suffered the least. Only the locals bore the brunt of this madness.

As a region, East Africa must wake up from its slumber and treat regional and international terrorism as its common enemy. We must begin to jointly operate an anti terrorism military and intelligence unit to eradicate these misguided thugs from our region.

If Somalia loves terrorism; if Somalia loved Al Qaida that much; if the Al Shababs want to control Somalia, this region has two choices. We invade Somalia and drive these murderers into the sea just like Nyerere did with Idi Amin three decades ago. If that alternative cannot work, then let neighboring countries do an Israeli act with Somalia. Let us build a wall to seal off Somalia in the same way Israel has done with Gaza so that terrorists can be confined to Mogadishu where they can annihilate themselves for all we care.

For the two decades that Somalia has been lawless, Kenya has continued to treat its neighbor with kid’s gloves. We have welcomed refugees from that country and done what has been humanly possible to do to bring sanity to that country. And what have got in return? Instead we have in return received bombings and more bombings resulting in senseless loss of valuable lives.

Let us face it. The African Union and the rest of the world must concede that Somalia is a failed state. The only way to deal with failed states in this era of international terrorism is to marshal an international occupation force and rule that country for at least fifty years as terrorist elements are eliminated one by one.

The reason why I believe terrorists can be eliminated with time is informed by historical facts.

When Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan became rogue states and terrorized the entire world, the combined allied forces defeated them and occupied Germany for nearly fifty years. The three countries are now some of the most stable democracies in the world.

Idi Amin too terrorized Uganda for almost a decade. Since his departure, Uganda has returned to a a progressive democracy with a measure of stability and progress. Lawlessness has disappeared from the streets.

What we remember the 1970s for as far as world terrorism is concerned is the number of airline hijackings that made global travel one of the scariest undertakings. In East Africa, we remember vividly how Air France was hijacked by Middle East terrorists that commandeered it to Entebbe. The events following that incident are now common folklore.

If we stand together with resolve, we can wipe out terrorists from our borders. That time is now.