The National Intelligence Service (NIS) is monitoring the activities of 200 youth in Mombasa who are suspected to have returned from Somalia after being radicalised.
Alexander Muteshi, the director in charge of Counter Terrorism at the spy agency told an induction workshop for Members of Parliament that terrorism is the biggest threat the country faces.
“External perpetrators like Somali-based Al Shabaab, ISIS based in Puntland, Southern Libya and Iraq whose objective is to force the withdrawal of Kenya Defence Forces from Somalia, and establish a Sharia caliphate are the biggest threat to our national security,” Mr Muteshi said.
He said the threat remains very high in Kenya’s borders at Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Lamu.
“We have some operatives being fought by KDF and our security officers deployed in Lamu. We are monitoring over 200 returnees from Somalia at the South Coast,” he told MPs at Intercontinental Hotel.
Mr Muteshi said another challenge is online radicalisation by Islamic State (ISIS) targeting youth in universities.
“We are facing an enemy who is highly radicalised, who has no value for human life including his own life; an enemy highly trained militarily and intelligence-wise,” Mr Muteshi told the forum attended by Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
He said the enemy operates in cells of planners, radicalisers, recruiters, financiers and spies who are supported on the ground by logisticians who are responsible for arms transport and other support.
A multi-agency approach by all arms of security have been successful in dealing with Al Shabaab, he said. “We have been able to minimise the threat in cities and pushed them along borders.”
Terror attacks have a big effect on Kenya’s economic growth, especially tourism.
In 2015, repeated attacks blamed on Somalia’s al Shabaab scared away tourists and eroded forex.
Tourism, along with tea, horticulture and remittances, are Kenya’s leading sources of foreign exchange.