As usual, social media discussed the NTV’s investigative feature titled “A Terrorists’ Playground” that aired on Sunday during the 9PM Weekend Edition Prime time news bulletin on NTV Kenya. Terrorists Playground sought to highlight weaknesses in Kenya’s police and the public in general in regards to our preparedness/alertness/readiness to counter terrorism or any other lethal attack. This programme was aired at a time when the National Intelligence Service has sent warnings that the Al-Shabaab are planning to attack the country “at in one of the hot afternoons when the country least expect it”. The target places include government building, high ranking hotels, and malls.
To investigate the preparedness of security forces, the NTV team planted in-attendeded black bag in a restaurant in the JKIA, Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairob’s Central Police Station and outside Hilton Hotel. Apparently, this un-attended bag was not detected by any security police officer let alone the general public in all the areas it was planted.
To add salt to injury, the NTV team decided to report about “an un-attended bag outside Hilton Hotel” to the police by calling 999. After talking to a police woman who identified herself as Elizabeth, the team was assured that the police will attend to the matter “in a short while”. However after the team waited for about two hours but no police officer had showed up to check on the bag, the team decided to call 999 again. This time round the police, recognizing that the call had to do with the previous report of an un-attended bag, assured the caller that the police had been dispatched and they had attended to the issue. This assurance was an outright lie as the investigative team was still packed outside Hilton Hotel looking at the the bag.
The Terrorists Playground has helped reveal to the security forces and the general public on how lax we are when it comes to terrorism and other lethal attacks. However, a number of Kenyans on social media think that the feature ought to have been given to the security forces instead of being aired on a National TV. They argue that airing such a sensitive programme is giving terrorists ideas of how and when to attack. Here are two such tweets:
— William Oduor (@Wuodbabu) January 27, 2014
@LarryMadowo Why *not* inform our security agencies directly instead of doing it on national TV? All you are doing is giving terrorists ideas
— Simon Kagwi (@simonkagwe) January 26, 2014
Although on the surface it may appears that Terrorists Playground gave terrorists ideas on how and when to attack Kenya, it is important to point out that an idea of planting a bag in strategic places like the Airports is a basic knowledge that terrorists do not require a programme such as Terrorists Playground to implement. Maybe what the terrorists have learnt from the programme is that our biggest hospital (KNH) and even our police stations are better targets than JKIA and the Westgates of Kenya. The other thing the terrorists could have learnt is that to attack Kenyans, the terrorists do not need to invest in suicide bombing, as these sacrificial terrorism alternatives are implemented in regions where security forces are extra vigilant; they only need to pack a bomb inside a laptop back and leave it at a strategic place!
The second important thing to point out about the feature is that it is not only the security forces that are lax but the public too. When the bag was planted outside Hilton Hotel, a number of people sat next to the bag for minutes and hours but no one bothered to report it to Hilton’s security or even call 999 on the same. Terrorists Playground airing on National TV should be able to also help you as an ordinary Kenyan realize the need to be extra vigilant especially now that we have been attacked not once or twice but several times by Terrorists in Malls, Markets and Public Transport Vehicles.
Lastly, Terrorists Playground ought to play an important role in making us collaborate with our security forces to ensure that safety of Kenya and Kenyans in the wake of terrorism threats. Prior to Westage attack, Al-Shabaab had sent warnings on Twitter that were picked by NSIS but apparently the police and other security agencies did not act on the warnings. Terrorists Playground has sent a strong warning to everyone, will we be surprised when we are attacked next time?
PS. Why did the police on 999 lie?