Straight up: The human tragedy of terror

Zach Khadudu is a Kenyan by birth and a journalist by choice. He is a commentator and an activist with a passion for refugee and human rights. He may share a heritage with a certain US president, but his heart lies elsewhere – in the written and spoken word.

Let’s face it, terrorism is undoubtedly one of the greatest threats of our time. Intelligence and security experts, hard as they may try, sometimes get caught flat-footed, unable to stop an attack before it actually happens. Terrorists continually develop new ways and mechanisms to accomplish their missions.

With increased security at high profile places, the terrorists have over the last few years increasingly concentrated on softer targets. We saw it in Paris where they targeted a newspaper office, here in Copenhagen where a café and a synagogue were targeted, and most recently a university college in Kenya where over 147 students were killed.

Horror of Bloody Thursday
When the guns fell silent at Garissa University College in Kenya on 2 April, 147 students lay dead, executed in cold blood. The first victims were the two guards manning the main gate, and in a fraction of a second, the 800 student-strong college became a killing field – the evidence of that bloody Thursday visible in the shuttered windows, bullet-ridden walls and blood-stained pathways. After close to 12 hours of relentless gunfire, an uneasy hush fell over the college – in its trail were left devastated survivors, grieving families and promising lives cut shot.

Survivors narrated horrific tales of how they were taunted and, in some cases, ordered to quote verses of the Koran. Those who failed to narrate a verse were shot in the head at close-range. Across the country parents with children at the college made frantic calls. In some cases the terrorists picked up the phone calls and shot the students as their loved ones listened in.

Peel away the propaganda
Although terror groups have continually propagated their attacks as a religious war with the West, their attacks in places like Syria and Somalia tell a different story. In the Garissa attack, for instance, among the killed were Muslims and Christians, Atheists and Agnostics, and traditionalists and Scientologists.

Inside Somalia, Al Shabab has carried out attacks inside mosques and on the streets, on public transport in and hotels, killing many civilian Muslims. Muslims, just like non-Muslims, have borne the brunt and felt the pain of terrorist acts in Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere.

Governmental efforts in vain
Governments worldwide are constantly thinking of new creative ways to try and stop attacks within their territories. It has become fashionable for most Western governments to profile ‘high risk’ youths and try to stop them from travelling to places like Syria to join the Islamic State or to Somalia to join Al Shabab.

Just this past week, the Weekly Post reported that the Danish police for the first time withdrew a passport of an individual to forbid him from possibly travelling to a warzone to take part in armed conflict.

The government means well, but I doubt this approach will do much to stop would-be jihadists from travelling to conflict areas. We have seen this approach tried in places like Britain, yet aspiring jihadists have managed to travel out of the country, passport or no passport.