Opinion and Analysis
Be wise, keep off terrorist attack sites
Posted Thursday, May 31 2012 at 20:04
The way members of the public and government officials — including Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere and Prime Minister Raila Odinga — responded to the terrorist attack in Nairobi earlier this week is likely to encourage the perpetrators to try it again.
Dealing with terrorism is a governance issue that requires good leadership at the political and law-enforcement levels.
Without such leadership, the public may not be appropriately protected.
When politicians and a large number of spectators turn up at a terrorist event, as if it was a football game, they may inadvertently interfere with the evidence, hinder rescue efforts, and expose more people to secondary explosions.
Terrorists, like government security agents, often select their targets in advance, carry out reconnaissance, and launch strikes with a view to causing maximum damage.
Those who planned the Assanand’s House bombing this week might have been pleased with the turn out of spectators and senior politicians.
Had former US President George W. Bush arrived at the World Trade Centre in New York within minutes of its destruction in September 2001, he would have exposed himself to a lot of danger.
This is why Mr Raila, Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi, and several politicians exposed themselves to unnecessary danger by visiting the crime scene within a short time after the explosion.
After an attack, terrorists often assess the magnitude of the damage sustained and monitor the way members of the public and government agencies react.
This is how Al-Qaida treated the World Trade Centre after its initial attack in 1993 failed to bring down the building. Moreover, terrorists all over the world do their best to conceal their plans and identities.
This is especially important if they seek to hit various targets within the same locality.
Therefore, those who planned the Assanand’s House blast must have celebrated when Mr Iteere announced to the whole world shortly after the explosion that his preliminary assessment had ascertained that the problem was due to an electrical fault rather than terrorism.
By diverting attention, Mr Iteere afforded the terrorists an opportunity to vanish. While some commentators wonder why the attackers have not claimed responsibility, I believe they do so only if it advances their goals.
If the Assanand’s attack is a dress rehearsal and they have tricked Mr Iteere into blaming someone else, terrorists would have no reason to claim responsibility.