Last night, Al Jazeera English screened Kenya’s Enemy Within, a collaboration between Kenyan investigative journalists John-Allan Namu and Pete Murimi, former winners of the CNN African Journalists of the Year Awards. Murimi co–directed the documentary with double-Emmy-winner Jamie Doran.
Kenya’s Enemy Within investigates Kenya’s plan to build a 700km-long wall along its porous border with Somalia, in an attempt to shield itself from the armed group al-Shabab.
The ambitious project, which consists of brick walls, fences and observation posts, will stretch from the town of Mandera in the north to Kiunga in the south. The goal is to lock out al-Shabab-aligned fighters who have repeatedly crossed into Kenya to wage attacks.
Kenya, an al-Shabab target due to its military involvement in Somalia, has seen an upsurge in large scale attacks recently.
Earlier this year, 148 people, including 142 students, were killed after gunmen stormed the Garissa University College, some 200km from the Somalia border. The massacre piled new pressure on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to deal with al-Shabab, which has killed more than 400 people in the country over the past two years.
In Kenya’s Enemy Within, Namu speaks to people with direct access to the construction project, who say the plan is unfeasible and won’t enhance the country’s security. They claim that corruption among immigration officials, poor coordination with intelligence agencies and slow responses from the security forces have left Kenya unable to stem the attacks.
al-Shabab fighters inside Kenya tell Namu the wall represents a futile effort to shut out the group, as the biggest threat the country is facing is from within. “Let them build a wall. We’re already inside Kenya. There will be more attacks,” Namu is told. He is also informed that sleeper cells inside Kenya are plotting attacks at the highest level: “We have snipers. Their job is to assassinate the president.”
Namu also speaks to the Muslim community, who say that constant harassment and intimidation at the hands of security forces, and scare-mongering by the government, are helping drive al-Shabab’s recruitment and creating the perfect breeding ground for the group.
Kevin Kriedemann & Joy Sapieka
AL JAZEERA MEDIA NETWORK
+27 83 556 2346 (Kevin)
+27 73 212 5492 (Joy)