Somalia-based terror group, Al-Shabaab, has stumbled upon a new way to lure Kenyan recruits even as attacks in the North-Eastersn part of the country increase.
Feeding off the desperation of unemployed youth, it is now using employment and fake sports sponsorships, particularly in football, to lure young Kenyans.
According to a report by the Daily Nation on Sunday, March 1, provided that teenagers, some not even out of secondary school, were willing to join the terrorist group as a way to escape poverty.
A case on May 16, 2017, revealed the extent of this desperation. During a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) recruitment at Mweiga, one of the potential recruits threatened to join the Al-Shabaab if he wasn’t drafted.
The man, Hosea Ng’ang’ a, met all the preliminary qualifications but failed the medical tests.
Intent on making good on his thirst, the 22-year-old started asking around for Al-Shabaab recruitment posts at which point he was taken into custody.
Hosea is not the only one identified looking to join the terrorist organisation. Other unemployed youth, as well as criminals on the police radar, are forming the bulk of Al-Shabaab targets.
Tony (not his real name) is one of those who expressed interest in joining the Al-Shabaab without hesitation.
Tony is barely 19 years old but is already saddled with a family that he fends for.
Living in the sprawling Majengo Slum in Nyeri, he dropped out of school because of poverty, in the dearth of formal employment, he fell back to crime and has been profiled as one of the hardcore criminals in Nyeri.
Tony sees joining the al-Shabaab as one in a few of the risky options he has, he confided to the Daily Nation.
Between the gnawing poverty, the incessant police harassment and the threats on life, joining a terrorist group is for him, not such a big leap.
“What are you supposed to do when you are told to leave your home. Police have said they will kill me if I am spotted in Nyeri. What kind of life is that?” Tony continues venting his frustrations, “I am hunted every day just because I am jobless and trying to make ends meet. I would rather join the Al-Shabaab – even if I die, I know it will be for a cause. I won’t lie, if I knew where to sign up, I would join without hesitation.”
In just two months of 2020, the country has witnessed about 16 terror attacks that have claimed at least 20 innocent lives. These attacks have been attributed to the Al-Shabaab terror group.
Al-Shabab’s ideology is typically described as a brand of Salafism and Wahhabism that supports takfir, the ex-communication of apostates or unbelievers.
According to Counter Extremism Project (CEP), the group fights first and foremost to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in the Horn of Africa that would include not only Somalia but also Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia