Britain should give Kenya support instead of tourist terrorism warnings

clare george-hilley

Terror: Attacks on the country cannot be allowed to destroy the country

Foreign Affairs IThe recent spate of terrorist attacks across Africa have shaken the very foundations of several optimistic countries, replacing hope with fear. From the capture of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria to the latest round of brutal bombings in Kenya’s capital Nairobi killing over a dozen people and wounding 70 more, the pattern is sporadic but the frequency consistent. This atrocity followed another bombing in the port town of Mombasa targeted at a popular hotel and tourist strip, which has transformed Kenya from a paradise tour spot into a dangerous place to be.

As one of the many thousands of Kenyan honeymooners, seeing a place I love destroyed and its tourist industry that provides hope and stable jobs to over 600,000 citizens in ruins is truly heart-breaking. It has been reported that since the tourist warning at least 5,000 Thomson and First Choice customers are seeking replacement holidays, the impact of which will do untold damage to the lives of thousands of workers who are simply trying to make ends meet.

Kenya is clearly being targeted because it dared to stand up to Islamic extremism in the form of Somalia’s Al Shabaab group. The frightening growth of this wicked movement should be a cause for concern for all world leaders as it continues to poison the minds of the vulnerable and maim the innocent. By following the well-worn terrorist strategy of brainwashing the weak and those in poverty, these evil organisations will soon be recruiting and growing many more killers such as Michael Adebolajo who was detained by Kenyan anti-terror Police and then eventually murdered drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of Britain.

Al Shabaab’s intentions are clear, it wants to break Kenya economically and socially through a relentless and cruel campaign of terror to destroy the tourist industry and leave the country unable to defend itself against extremism. It will be in this new environment with poverty and unemployment rising that its perverted version of Islam will be best sold to the people, turning hope into hate and putting the continent as well as the national security of Britain at risk. Britain cannot allow this to happen and therefore we must take meaningful action to protect and support a country and its people from Islamic extremism.

Firstly, we need to offer serious and extensive counter-terrorism advice and support. We know from our own experience of terrorist atrocities on the streets of London that a city that stands up and carries on as normal in the face of terror is one which has defeated terror. So pulling the plug on the tourist industry for a country as poor as Kenya not only seems wrong, it seems amoral. We also need to provide advice on the deep rooted preaching of extremism, something that is already embedding itself into British schools. We know that terrorists prefer to corrupt the most vulnerable, with the young being the easiest target, so Kenya needs to be supported in closing down this evil before it takes hold. We also need to offer empathy with the situation, and acknowledge the fact that Africa is experiencing a wave of extremism of which it is not familiar with in its nature or its brutality.

So would I go to Mombasa, Kenya for my honeymoon again knowing about the bombings, the deaths and receiving a threat warning from my tourist provider? The answer is yes, and if it was no then the terrorists have already won.

Clare George-Hilley is a director on the Parliament Street think research council and a columnist for The Commentator

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