Terrorism and Religion; The Impact on Peace Stability in Kenya


1. Introduction

1.1 Background to the Research

The growing trends of terrorism in Africa, and in the region of Inter-Governmental Authority on Development [IGAD] in particular within which Kenya finds itself, have become a serious concern for security. Its impact on peace and economic development is significantly negative. Many lives have been lost, and fear and anxiety in the people is slowly creeping in. Kenya serves as an epitome of the phenomenon of terrorism taking place in the globe, and the IGAD region in particular. All these reasons necessitated the undertaking of this research at the micro level (i.e., Kenya). Through this study, the authors hope to present a complete grasp of the nature of terrorism and its development in Kenya, with a view to making contributions towards the knowledge of terrorism and addressing it.

It is difficult to give a universally acceptable definition of terrorism. Because of its dependence on the historical contexts it appears, its definition is embedded in one’s political position and ideological or religiousviews. What one may call terrorism in one context another may consider it a legitimate action. This poses a challenge to term an actor a ‘terrorist’.Some governments, groups and individuals use terrorising activities for different purposes. For these reasons, here the term ‘terrorism’ rather than ‘terrorist’ is preferred. Terrorism is, therefore, a set of premeditated actions or strategies adopted by non-state (groups or individuals) or state actors against ordinary and targeted notable people to further certain political, social, or religious purposes (Sandler, 2011; Ramsbotham, Woodhouse and Miall, 2011).

Without prejudice to state and government terrorist activities existing in some non-democratic countries, this research will focus more on the violent activities perpetrated by the non-state actors. The actors in terrorism use strategies intended to causeextreme anxiety and fear in a wider population, who – theactors hope – wouldin turn pressurize their governments into acceding to the perpetrator/s’ demands. We consider ‘terrorist act’ any form of action that intentionally force people into submission to the will and wish of the actor under the pain of physical and psychological harm (including destruction of life and property).

Terrorist activities are not recent phenomenon, although the magnitude of its violence and casualties of our time is impressive. Today, at the dawn of the 21st century, the world experiences the era of the politico-religious wave terrorism. Putting aside the harrowing and terrorizing local experiences of terrorist activities in individual countries throughout the world (e.g., pogroms, criminal activities of groups, of drag cartels and gangs, and state sponsored activities in some countries), the major “waves of terrorism”(Rapoport, 2008) indicate the growing trends of terrorism globally. Today’s form of terrorism has grown more complicated and transnational, which the IGAD region and Kenya in particular experiences.

The experience of Africa of the politico-religious terrorism is recent and growing phenomenon. It is continuing in some countries and emerging in other countries of the Continent. In Northern Africa, it has been off and on: Algeria Mali, Niger and Mauritania have been struggling with Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb since 2001, with another break away branch “Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa” (MOJWA) in mid-2011 led by a black African, perhaps in reaction to Algerian Arab domination. It remains an al Qaida inspired group. Egypt has a long experience of on-and-off attacks. Somalia in Eastern Africa has been a place for the new breed of terrorism, Al Shabab with links to Al Quida. The Boko Haram, a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist sect began in 2002 with one Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, with a complex religious school that attracted young people from the country and its neighbours. The students came mainly from poor Muslim families. It has moved to a radical militant Islamist movement, a salafist jihadi group with the influence of Wahhabi creed, with expressed claim of commitment to the propagation of the teaching of Prophet and Jihad, and strict adherence to sharia law, and with vision of changingNigeria into an Islamic state. It is continuing with devastating activities in Nigeria, particularly since 2009,and now (in 2014) expanding even into northern Cameroon.

Read also  Assessment of Military Influence in the Middle East

The IGAD region of Africa is rife with terrorism perpetrated by the non-state actors.IGAD region comprises eight countries, namely Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, with its headquarters in Djibouti City. It was founded in 1986 to address the serious sufferings and challenges caused by famine, natural disasters, and economic hardships in the Eastern Africa Region. Today, with its new organisational structure, the member countries cooperate in the areas of foodsecurity and environmental protection; promotion and maintenance of peace and security and humanitarian affairs; and economic cooperation and integration (IGAD, http://igad.int/). The region has an estimated population of 242,226,382 according to the July 2014 CIA’s The World Factbook, and suffers constant threat of terrorism, the experience of which is being deeply felt in Kenya

Kenya’s population, according The World Factbook, is estimated to be 45,010,056.The Christians account for the majority of the population (82.5%), followed by Muslims (11.1%) according to the Population and Housing Census of 2009. In the IGAD region, Kenya it has been the host of the largest refugee population, although at the moment with the flow of South Sudanese refugees Ethiopia contains slightly more refugee population.

Kenya has experienced terrorism by non-state actors since 1950s. The shifta activities in the northern Kenya, and the ensuing state actions were forms of terrorism. Today, Kenya suffers from both national and transnational acts of politico-religious terrorism. The country has been employing different mechanisms of addressing the problem of non-state form of terrorism, mainly focusing on military means but also in recent times through constitutional reforms to address the sources. These have not shown reduction in terrorism; the experience of nationalist form of terrorism is continuing; the politico-religious form of terrorism is rising.

Globally, the period starting from the 2004 pick of terrorism incidents to 2008 showed a considerable decline in international terrorist attacks(Ramsbotham et al., 2011, p. 80). But the situations today in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, northern Africa, and the IGAD regionare no consolation to us. It shows the exponential rise of terrorism in these parts of the regions of the world. The 2014 Global Peace Index Report concludes: “The world has become less peaceful every year since 2008” (p. 2). This indicates the importance of better understanding of the nature of the conflict and its trends to be able to face the challenge.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Kenya faces a more aggressive, dynamic and destructive form of terrorism with tactics causing a great physical, psychological, and economic damages to the society. The approaches that have been used so far appear to be ineffective. There is a need to assess the nature of terrorism and the mechanisms that have been applied in addressing it.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This research explores the nature of terrorism and mechanisms available in addressing it.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

  • To determine the relationship between terrorism and religion
  • To document trends in terrorism in Kenya
  • To determine the effect of terrorism on peace and development
  • To determine feasibility conditions of terrorism
  • To determine mechanisms of combating terrorism

1.5 Research Questions

  • What is the relationship between terrorism and religion?
  • Are there trends in terrorism in Kenya?
  • What effects does terrorism have on peace and development?
  • What are the feasibility conditions of terrorism?
  • What mechanisms are available in combating terrorism?

1.6 Theoretical Framework

This research uses two complementary theories: theory of good governance and theory of strong state. (The assumptions of these theories will be added).

1.7 Justification of the Study

  • To make contribution towards the knowledge of terrorism
  • Offer comprehensive analysis on terrorism in Kenya for policy makers
  • Offer recommendations relevant for the process of addressing the problem


2.1 Understanding the Link between Religion and Terrorism

In the literature, there seem to be two broad categories into which the scholars argue: those who consider religion as not being the cause of terrorism, but instead argue that the causes for violence are due to politics or societal problems (extreme poverty, hunger, etc.) (Jackson, 2007; Mamdani, 2002; Ehrlich &Liu 2002; Frisch, 2005;Mousseau, 2002). The second category includes scholars who argue that religion is among the main driving forces of terror(Crenshaw, 2000; Pearce, 2005;Silberman, Higgins &Dweck,2005;Cliteur, 2010; Rid, 2010; Kruglanski&Fishman, 2006; Horowitz, 2009). Both groups agree that that religion is not ‘the’ cause of terrorism. However, these authors have not investigated specific religious motivations involved in the terrorism. This research tries to examine more specifically the religious motivations provided by Islam that draws recruits in Kenya, so as to better understand and address the issue.

Read also  International Labour Standards

2.2 Feasibility conditions of Terrorism

A number of factors breed terrorism. The most common factors cited in most of the literature include external support (Pillar, 2001; Campbell &Flournoy, 2001), repressive governments (Regan, 2005;Bjoro, 2003; Netanyahu, 2001; Carson, 2005), extremist religious ideologies (Cilliers&Sturman 2002;Moustapha, 2002), and socio-economic conditions among the Muslim populations (Campbell &Flournoy, 2001; Pillar, 2001 ;Carson ,2005).

2.3 Impact of terrorism in Kenya

Despite Kenya being a victim of repeated terrorist attacks, not much literature is available covering the impact the threat has had on the country in terms of peace and security. Some literature relevant to this research highlight the socioeconomic impacts of the threat (Lecey, 2004;Barkan& Cooke, 2001; Muhula, 2007; Downing, 2006 ). This research to determine the extent to which terrorism has affected Kenya.

2.4 Combating Terrorism

Some elements of an effective counterterrorism strategy relevant to this research, cited by various authors, are public diplomacy and information campaigns(Pillar, 2001); legislation; financial controls (Pillar, 2001;Thomas et al. 2004) and socioeconomic development (Lee, 2004;Campbell &Flournoy, 2001); use of military force (Netanyahu, 2001;Juergensmeyer, 2001); and creation of a specialized judicial system for terrorism suspects (Hoffman and Morrison, 2000; Netanyahu, 2001; Shapiro & Benedict, 2003). International collaboration is also another aspect that has been underscored (Ramsbotham et al., 2011). How much these will be effective in addressing Terrorism in Kenya will be discussed.


The research plan hopes to achieve the objectives through multiple answering of the research questions thereby coming up with answers that are social science empirical research knowledge. This knowledge will not only make a contribution to what is already known about the nature and dynamics of terrorism in Kenya, but also be valuable in terms of informing policy in Kenya as is synoptically described below.

Research Site

Areas of Eastern and Northern Kenya and also selected urban places of the country as a whole


Adult men and women who are knowledgeable – direct (experience based) or indirect (Secondary source based) – about terrorist and terrorism in Kenya.


One- off cross-sectional survey will be used. Specifically, because the research will be guided by questions and not hypotheses, descriptive rather than analytic cross-sectional survey will be employed in the collection of data from the sampled population. Thus the prime purpose will be to provide descriptive estimates of the purview of actors in terrorism, terror acts and terrorism.


Due in part to opting to be guided by research questions rather than hypotheses, the probability sampling principle will be relaxed in large measure but not totally dispensed with because of the need to provide estimates of parameters of dynamics of terrorism in Kenya, taking into account Kenya’s neighbours ( Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda). The Sample will be constructed from individuals well selected purposefully to meet quotas deemed to be important or salient to getting to know and understand terroristic phenomena – what they mean, what they entail, what they imply, what they deny, and what to do about them solely in the interest of socio-economic development praxis in Kenya.

Data Collection Procedures

Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from respondents through questionnaire, structured and unstructured interview and focus group discussions.

Tentative Budget

Budget lines

Amount in USD

Preparation and Development of Research tools


Training of Research Assistants


Field Research


Technical Assistance for Data Analysis


Report Writing


Validation Workshop


Printing Binding and Distribution


Logistics (Stationary, Communication, Internet)


Allowance for Lead researcher and Research Assistants


Grand Total


Read also  The poverty issue


Barkan, Joel D., and Jennifer G. Cooke.2001. U.S. Policy Towards Kenya in the Wake of September 11, Can Antiterrorist Imperatives be Reconciled with Enduring U.S. Foreign Policy Goals? Africa Center for Strategic Studies web page article on-line. http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/anotes_0112.pdf. Internet.Accessed December 2014.

Bjorgo, Tore. 2003. Finding for an International Expert Meeting in Oslo on Terrorism. Conference, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs 9-11 June. Norway.

Campbell, Kurt M., and Michele A. Flournoy. 2001. To Prevail, An America Strategy for the Campaign against Terrorism. Washington, DC: Center for Africa Strategic Studies.

Carson, Johnnie. (2005). Kenya the Struggle Against Terrorism. inRotberg, I. Robert (ed). Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa. World Peace Foundation, Brookings Institution Press, Washington DC

CIA.The World Factbook.https://www.cia.gov/index.html

Cilliers, Jakkie, and Kathryn Sturman. 2002. Africa and Terrorism, Joining the Global Campaign, Monograph 74, July. Pretoria. Institute for Security Studies. Article on web page.Available online from www.iss.co.za/ PUBS/MONOGRAPHS/NO74 /Chap1.html.Internet.Accessed December, 2014.

Cliteur, Paul B.(2010) “Religion and Violence or the Reluctance to Study This Relationship.” Forum Philosophicum15.

Crenshaw, Martha.(2000) “The Psychology of Terrorism: An Agenda for the 21st Century.” Political Psychology 21.2.

Downing Wyne.( 2006). “Al Qaida’s (Mis) Adventures in The Horn of Africa. Harmony Project, Combating Terrorism Centre, Westpoint, USA

Ehrlich, Paul R. and Jianguo Liu. (2002)“Some Roots of Terrorism.”Population and Environment 24.2.

Frisch, Hillel. (2005) “Has the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Become Islamic?Fatah, Islam, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”Terrorism and Political Conflict 17.3.

Horowitz, Michael C. (2009)“Long Time Going: Religion and the Duration of Crusading.” International Security 34.2.


Institute for Economics and Peace. (2004). Five Key Questions Answered on the Link between Peace and Religion. http://www.ecomomicsand peace.org

Jackson, Richard. (2007) “Constructing Enemies: ‘Islamic Terrorism’ in Political and Academic Discourse.”Government and Opposition 42.3

Kruglanski, Arie and Shira Fishman. (2006) “The Psychology of Terrorism: “Syndrome” Versus “Tool” Perspectives.” Terrorism and Political Violence 18

Lecey, Marc. (2004). Threat of Terrorism Hurts Kenya Tourism. The New York Times, January. Available on-line from http://proquest.umi/pqdweb?

Mamdani,Mahmood. (2002) “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism.” American Anthropologist 104.3.

Mousseau, Michael (2002). “Market Civilization and its Clash With Terror.” International Security 27.3

Moustapha, Hassouna. (2002). Why Radicals Find Fertile Ground in Moderate Kenya, President Bush met with Kenya President Moi to Discuss Security issues. The Christian Science Monitor, 6 December. Article on-line. Available from http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1206/p07s02-woaf.html.Internet.Accessed December 2014.

Muhula, Raymond. (2007). “Kenya and the Global war on Terrorism: Searching for a New Role in a New War” in Davis, John (ed). “Africa on the War on Terrorism”, Ashgate, Burlington, USA

Netanyahu, Benjamin. (2001). Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies can Defeat the International Terrorist Network. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Pearce, Susanna. “Religious Rage: A Quantitative Analysis of the Intensity of Religious Conflicts.” Terrorism and Political Conflict 17.3 (2005).

Pillar, Paul. (2001). Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., &Miall, H.( 2011) Contemporary Conflict Resolution (3rdedition). Cambridge: Polity Press

Rapoport, D. C. (2008).Terrorism.In Lester Kurtz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, & Conflict (2nd edition), Vol. 3 (pp. 2087 – 2104). London, New York, and Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Rid, Thomas (2010). “Cracks in the Jihad.”ASPJ-Africa and Francophonie 1.3

Sandler, T. (2011). New frontiers of terrorism research: An introduction. Journal of Peace Research, 48(3), 279–286.

Shapiro, Jeremy, and Benedict Susan. (2003). The French Experience of Counterterrorism. Washington, DC: The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Silberman, Israela,E. Tory Higgins, and Carol S. Dweck (2005). “Religion and World Change: Violence and Terrorism versus Peace.” Journal of Social Issues 61.4

Thomas, Kean H., Lee H. Hamilton, Ben-Veniste Richard, Kerrey Bob, Lehman F. John, Fielding F. Fred, Roemer J. Timothy, Gorelick S. Jamie, Gorton Slade, and Thomson R. James. (2004). The September 11-Commission Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States Executive Summary. Washington DC: United State Congress.


Order Now

Order Now

Type of Paper
Number of Pages
(275 words)