Al-Shabaab can never win war of words with military

Kenya Defence Forces soldiers under the Africa Union Mission in Somalia in Kismayo, Somalia on November 20, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
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Kulbiyoh, the military camp in Somalia where al-Shabaab terrorists attempted to storm Kenya Defence Forces last week, is a distant and fading memory, just like el-Ade before it.

The terrorists came on a suicide vehicle bearing improvised explosive devices, and the Kenyan soldiers were happy to grant them a swift funeral. The exploding vehicle was repulsed and forced to turn around as the suicide attackers fled the battlefield for dear life.

Thus defeated, al-Shabaab attempted to start a propaganda war by claiming to have killed scores of Kenyan soldiers but the terrorist group is now withering under a barrage of bombast and drowning in a deluge of verbiage from Nairobi.

The dawn attack on Kulbiyow was al-Shabaab’s attempt to prevent the Kenya Defence Forced (KDF) from getting to the bottom of a similar assault on the el-Ade camp exactly a year ago. Fearing exposure after the Kenyan military command ordered a full inquiry into spurious claims that over 100 of its troops had been killed, al-Shabaab sought to destroy the evidence of the investigation that would have exposed them as bald-faced liars.

Some of the outlandish claims the terrorist group made about el-Ade were that it had captured Kenyan soldiers whom it was using as human shields. It turns out that no troops were taken hostage, and a close examination of the video footage al-Shabaab released thereafter reveals that these were hired actors pretending to be Kenyan soldiers.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of military science and the orders of battle would appreciate the fact that Kenyan soldiers could not have been ambushed – either in el-Ade or Kulbiyow – at dawn and still be able to wear their full combat uniform.


Oblivious of this, some Kenyans, short on patriotism and long on self-loathing demand to know how many are dead instead of asking how many al-Shabaab are still alive. It does not matter how many are killed – what matters is that they gave their lives willingly for a just cause to bring peace to Somalia and secure Kenya’s freedom.

Even if the al-Shabaab put out propaganda claiming that they had killed 67 troops, the KDF should never give them the satisfaction of acknowledging loss. Give the military a whole number and they can turn it into a fraction of itself within hours.

Still, others go as far as besmirching the gallant reputations of our boys in uniform by insinuating that they have become “kitchen totos” dabbling in charcoal and licking sugar.

At a time of mourning and honouring heroes, such as this, not asking stupid questions about whether or not there was prior warning, how many people were killed, and what is going to be done next, or even suggesting a pullout from Somalia, is not the patriotic thing to do.

As one Kenyan soldier who commanded the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) forces once warned in 2014, “We will deal the final blow [to al-Shabaab] in the next few days”.

Kenya could have finished this war a long time ago if it had been left on its own. When the KDF was fighting on its own, it was taking city after city, until it came under the command of Amisom, which slows down the action quite a bit.

Regardless, Kenya is not going to give al-Shabaab the satisfaction of winning the war of words.




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