US Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Kenya over anti-terror war
Diplomatic sources say Mr Kerry (pictured) will be in Kenya on May 4 to promote security in sub-Saharan Africa. His visit comes in the wake of revelations that the Islamic State (ISIS) is increasingly funding Al-Shabaab militants to launch attacks in the region.
“He will be in Kenya to demonstrate the US’s commitment to fighting terrorism in the region and ensuring stability,” said a source who asked not to be named.
The top US diplomat’s visit will precede the planned tour in July by US President Barack Obama who will hold bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta as well as attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.
Kerry’s itinerary remains a secret, but those with information on the trip say discussions on how to stop Al-Shabaab financing will be part of the agenda.
The visit comes weeks after a delegation of the US Senate and US Congress also toured the country and met local leaders among them President Kenyatta and Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.
The five-member team from Capitol Hill was on a three-day visit to understand Kenya’s security situation and the evolving war against terror.
The discussions also focused on Kenya’s role in ensuring regional security as well as how to foster the two countries’ bilateral relations.
Uhuru briefed the US legislators on the war against terror, the role of the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia within the context of the AU Mission and strategies for dealing with radicalisation.
“This is a global war that requires a global approach. We are working very closely with our partners, including the United States, in tackling terrorism in the region and beyond,” Uhuru told the delegation.
The President also briefed the delegation on efforts to stop terror financing.
Also on the agenda was the need for capacity building for Kenyan security agencies in the war against terror, an area the US is keen to support. Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett recently gazetted 85 names of people and organisations linked to terrorism, citing Section Three of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2012.
Some of those named have since been grilled by anti-terror police, with most protesting their innocence.
The US Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs also published a report in March indicating that Somalia’s remittance banks, or hawalas, were financing terror activities in the region.
The report by the US Department of State warned that despite Kenya being a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, it still has deficiencies in controlling the flow of funds and has not developed a functioning financial intelligence unit.
It also said although many of the hawalas that send money to Somalia have branches in Kenya, where a large Somali population lives, “Somalia does not have a commercial banking sector, and the Central Bank lacks the capacity to supervise or regulate the hawala”.
“Somalia does not have laws or procedures requiring the collection of data for money transfers or suspicious transaction reports. Somalia did not distribute the UN list of terrorists or terrorist entities to financial services. Somalia lacked the funding and capacity to investigate and prosecute incidents of terrorist financing,” said the report.
The 233-page document also said Kenya’s proximity to Somalia made it an obvious and attractive location for laundering certain piracy-related proceeds and for a financial facilitation hub for Al-Shabaab.
The report further stated that trade goods were used to provide counter-valuation by regional hawala networks.