The Al-Shabab And Boko Haram Questions


A few months ago I ranted well, to anybody who cared to listen that Kenya was getting her feet in hot water for getting her troops into Somalia in chase of Al-Shabab. Seventy odd days later, apart from the media fest that ensued, with camera trotting journalist trailing the Kenyan troops for news nothing in the form of strategic victories for the troops or any headway in dealing a debilitating blow on Al-Shabab. At the heart of the moment we listed to our hearts rather than our heads and rushed our troops into Somalia.


The fact of the matter though is this; Al-shabab is an insidious and an amorphous enemy, the tenets of its existence rest on some murky ideological bedrock, it lacks geographical and political locus. This in its sense means that fighting Al-shabab in the conventional ‘gun trotting, obliterate the enemy’ way is almost impossible. Indeed you need to know your enemy and his ways before you begin plotting his

destruction. The Kenyan government and the Nigerian government have tried to solve Al-Shabab/Boko Haram by ‘shooting too much’. Fighting a battle with ideological character with gun and barrel has never had novelty in itself. The USA in its unending war on terror, China in its war against Tibetan Budhism and English Protestantism in Northern Ireland can attest to that. Closer home in the republic of Tanzania, Kijikile Ngwale provided an exemplar into panaceas of ideological conflicts.


Whereas his magic water was a disaster militarily, he had helped his people sail against the head winds of a colonial supremacist ideology. Military and security policy makers have overlooked the ideological character that is the axis of Boko Haram and Al-Shabab. The mere existence of such groups, is in itself not coincidental but is in itself an inference of a crumbling social, economic and political fabric of a nation. It calls for a re-evaluation of national values. Kenya for instance needs to address massive disparity in terms of infrastructure availability in Northen Kenya, Kenyans need to appreciate and be cognizant of the fact that North Easterners come from a far different cultural environment, that though does not make them aliens. A re-examination of Kenya’s values would be in order, national integration and a tone down of ethnic and fundamentalist rhetoric. That said and done the war against militia is not lost. A snake is killed easiest by cutting its head off.  Al-shabab can be debilitated by going after the funders of Al-shabab, those who profit politically or in any form from the conflict or starve of Al-shabab from the sapple and gullible young men of Somali origin from all over the world  and mostly in Western  lands who are deceived into joining the Al-shabab. For the only way to immobilize a squid is by cutting off its tentacles.



Alex Ndungu Njeru

BA (Development Studies)


Cell: +254 0724 891 685