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Eid al-Fitr: Muslims around world celebrate end of Ramadan fast

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Sunday June 25, 2017

Pakistani residents offer Eid al-Fitr prayers on the outskirts of Peshawar AFP/Getty Images
This weekend, Muslims all over the globe begin celebrations for Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of Ramadan.

The name translates as “the festival of breaking the fast” as during the month of Ramadan, Muslims perform one of the five pillars of Islam: the fast.

Food, water and sexual activity are all banned until after sunset.
Ramadan takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is believed that the Quran’s first verse was revealed during the last 10 nights of this month.

The exact date of Eid depends on the lunar cycle, and it is traditionally celebrated for three days – although from country to country, the festival can last anywhere from one to four days.
Muslims in the UK generally celebrate Eid for a single day.
It’s not to be confused with Eid al-Adha, the “sacrifice feast” – so-called to honour Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael – which takes place two months later and coincides with the annual Mecca pilgrimage.

To commemorate Eid, prayers are offered in the morning at the mosque, with readings from the Quran.
Celebrations then take place with friends and family, as well as among the whole community.
Children often receive new clothes and their first pocket money, and parents exchange gifts and pastries.
This year marks the first time since 1996 that the White House will not host a celebratory iftar dinner to commemorate Eid.

First held in the White House in 1805, Hillary Clinton made the ritual an annual tradition in 1996 after learning more about it from her daughter Chelsea. 
The White House issued a statement on Saturday evening: “Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity.
Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honour these values.”

The statement ends with the traditional greeting: Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid).

Kenyans more united as war against terror gains strength

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By Joyce Chimbi | Updated Mon, June 26th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share on Facebook Share on Twitter First batch of bodies of Kenya Defence Force soldiers killed in an attack on their camp in somalia arrive at Wilson airport on January 18, 2016, a day after an attack by the Al-Qaeda-linked militants on an African Union base (AMISOM) in southwest Somalia.  PHOTO JOHN MUCHUCHA When Gaga Balozi was 11 years old, he began to express a desire of becoming a policeman someday, a desire that was later demonstrated by the number of times he responded to calls for recruitment to the Kenya Police Service. His mother, Zeituni Hamadi (not her real name) a resident of Kaloleni, Kilifi County, alleges  her son made 10 unsuccessful attempts and it was at that point in April last year that he made a decision that changed his life and that of his family. “When they said that he had not passed, I think out of anger, my son said the system was giving him no choice but to cross the border. He said that he had resisted a life of crime but he had reached the end,” the distraught mother narrates.

That was the last time that Hamadi saw Balozi (not his real name). GOT ARRESTED “People told me that he got arrested but until now I do not know whether he crossed the border into Somalia or is still in this country,” she says. ALSO READ: Al Shabaab kills five in latest Mandera attack Whether out of frustration with the system, radical and extreme religious beliefs, poverty or mere curiosity, the Al-Shabaab terror group has lived up to its name, which in Arabic means youth, attracting thousands of Kenyan youths. “The profile is mostly similar, that of poverty-stricken, desperate and overzealous youths who have become the enemy within sympathising with terrorists and actively participating in terror attacks,” says Simon Ndetei, the Officer Commanding Diani Police Station, Kwale County. Police statistics show at least a quarter of all Al Shabaab’s 7,000 to 9,000 forces are Kenyans even as an estimated 4,000 Kenyan troops in the 22,000-strong African Union force continue to wage war against the Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Hassan Mwanzugwe, an assistant chief in Diani, explains that unemployed youths are vulnerable and tend to grow increasingly sympathetic to terror groups. Government statistics show every year at least 500,000 young people enter the job market and of the 19.8 million of the working age population, at least 70 per cent of them are young, aged 18 to 34 years, with about 65 per cent of these being unemployed.

Crime reports released by police show that in every two crimes reported to the police, one has been committed by a young person aged 16 to 25 years. As a result, terrorism remains a high priority issue of concern that necessitated military action where the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), under the operation Linda Nchi, formally joined forces with African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), in 2011, pursuing Shabaab into Southeastern Somalia.

 ALSO READ: Al-Shabaab militia kill policeman, two civilians in Mandera A move that the terror group perceived as a declaration of war and there have been consequences. The International Crisis Group (ICG), an international NGO that works to resolve and prevent deadly conflict states that between 2011 and 2014, “it [Shaabab] has built a formidable and secretive support infrastructure in Kenya. A tiny, but highly-radicalised, close-knit and secretive Salafi Jihadi fringe which looks up to Al Shabaab as a source of emulation.” Kenya has previously suffered devastating terror attacks dating back to the 1980 bombing of the Norfolk Hotel where 20 people lost their lives and more than 80 were injured. But the most devastating to date has been the 1998 bombing of the United States embassy where at least 200 people died and hundreds were injured. In both attacks, Kenya suffered for perceived links to international agendas. In 1980, Kenya was accused of showing support to the Israeli while they were rescuing their hostages from Uganda and so the attack was targeted at the Israelis. The second attack targeted Americans.

 ALSO READ: Community key in war on terrorism, NCTC boss says “But things have changed and now Kenya is in the line of fire. Terror gangs have been reacting to the Linda Nchi Operation going on in Somalia and many lives have been lost,” says Ndetei. According to statistics by the Kenya National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) at least 900 lives have been lost to terror attacks since 2000 and the Al Shabaab has mostly taken responsibility. As many as 6,200 people, including those affected by the US embassy bombing have been injured in terror attacks.

The attacks escalated between 2011 and 2014 where at least 370 people were killed and over 1,075 others injured which translates to one person being killed every three days. Other Police statistics show that there have been at least 100 successful terror attacks since 2011. “Out of the 47 counties these attacks have affected nine of them, with Garissa accounting for about 32 per cent of all the attacks, followed by Nairobi with 22 per cent of the attacks,” says Hussein Gullet of the National Muslim Leaders Forum in charge of Northern Kenya. “Mombasa follows with 16 per cent, Mandera with 11 per cent and then Lamu and Wajir with 9 per cent each,” he adds. These counties have been vulnerable due to their proximity to the Somalia border or the Indian Ocean. ALSO READ: Police hold 88 suspects including 15 foreigners in anti-terror operation But NCTC has further revealed that there are more counties where youths are beginning to show evidence of radicalisation.

But Gerald Mongare of the National Counter Terrorism Agency explains that terrorism has also made Kenyans more united, “there is an increased sense of nationalism.” “There is more public awareness on terrorism, detection and counter terrorism measures have become more successful and terrorists are the ones going into hiding,” Mongare observes. The economic toll to the country is astounding. Government statistics show that at least Sh16 billion has been invested in the war against terror.

This is money spent on various police equipment and medical insurance for Kenyan troops in Somalia since 2013 among other necessities. 

Government’s intended plan to build a wall along part of the estimated 700km border with Somalia is likely to cost as much as 1.7 trillion and still not comprehensively address the main drivers of terrorism. “This is money that should be used to provide Kenyans with more basic needs like health, education and better infrastructure,” says Agatha Njoki, a peace and conflict expert in Nairobi. Destruction of property, infrastructure and livelihoods has affected thousands of households and many are still piecing together the broken pieces of their lives as was witnessed when the Garissa University terror attack survivors marked the second anniversary on April. But in the face of this devastating statistics the Government remains confident that the country has not lost its grip on the fight against terrorism.

UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie in Kenya, visits refugee girls

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Wednesday June 21, 2017

U.N. Refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie marked World Refugee Day on Tuesday at a Kenyan home housing refugee girls who fled unaccompanied or split from their parents while fleeing conflict.

The Hollywood star visited at least 20 of girls in a safe house in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. They had fled conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda, UNHCR said in a statement.

It said almost all had experienced sexual and gender-based violence and many had given birth after being raped or were pregnant.

“The role of sexual violence is compounded when it is carried out by someone in uniform who has taken an oath to protect," Jolie said.

"So it is a responsibility of those who wear uniform to take the lead now by correcting from within, setting an example astepping forward with new commitments."

The UNHCR says Kenya hosts some 491,000 refugees, of which 101,713 are from South Sudan, which the U.N. has said is the world's fastest growing refugee crisis.

Cops arrest 85 terror suspects in Eastleigh and Mombasa

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Jun. 19, 2017, 6:00 am
Cops nab 85 terror suspects in Nairobi, Mombasa, June 19, 2017. /COURTESY
Police in Mombasa arrested four terror suspects at the weekend for plotting to carry an attack during Eid celebrations.
Three suspects Yayha Salim Bakari - a teacher at Masjid Majilis in Kikambala, Julius Mwandenzi alias Zinde, Zebebwa, Ibras and Abdallah Ramadhan were arrested in Voi town.
Police said they were escaping to Nairobi.
Another suspect, Mohamed Anguzo, was arrested in Nairobi and is yet to be airlifted to Mombasa to face similar charges.
A fifth suspect, who is yet to be identified, escaped when the detectives from the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATPU) stormed their hideout in Voi.
An officer who sought anonymity told The Star that the five suspects had recruited several minors aged 16-17 to join al Shabaab.
"We received information from KDF intelligence teams in Somalia and we laid an ambush.They will be arraigned in Mombasa this morning. But one managed to escape during the raid," he said.
The officer added: "We will seek more days to interrogate them."
More than 80 people were arrested in an anti-terror swoop in Eastleigh area, Nairobi on Sunday.
The suspects include 15 foreigners and are under interrogation for radicalisation.
In April, a wanted terror suspect Juma Athman was arrested by ATPU officers in Mombasa.
Athman, 24, was apprehended at his house in Shika Adabu, Likoni.
Police recovered two grenades, 10 bullets and CDs with materials for radicalisation.
An AK 47 rifle, a jungle jacket, his Kenyan passport, and binoculars were also seized during the raid.

More effort needed get to the bottom of Shabaab attacks

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Sunday June 18, 2017

The suspected al-Shabaab terrorist attack in Mandera on Friday marks the latest in a worrying trend of using explosive devices planted in the ground.
Some of the attacks, mostly in parts of the northeastern region and the coast, have targeted security forces, including those in armoured vehicles.
Coverage of the incidents in recent editions of this newspaper has indicated some of the explosive devices by the suspected terrorists are so powerful and sophisticated that they point to a network that includes bomb experts.
There have also been suggestions of local residents working with the terrorists and the activities of smuggling rings, but these remain under investigation.

While we acknowledge that the police have arrested several suspects and stopped a number of terror plots, there is obviously a need to put in more effort to get to the bottom of this, including through security agencies changing tactics to counter the new threat. 
Recent alerts and updates by the police have helped to calm fears but the continued attacks point to a deeper problem.

Experts consider the recent incidents as a security headache that could spread to other parts of the country if not contained.
The new tactics not only stop ordinary citizens from going about their activities without fear but also affect the movement of security forces during their patrols.
There is also a need to ensure the recently acquired armoured personnel carriers and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles are safe after recent incidents raised quality questions.

Eastleigh Annual Expo

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Eastleighwood in partnership with EBDA to hold second Eastleigh Annual Expo.
Eastleighwood and Eastleigh Business District Association (EBDA) is organizing its second Eastleigh Annual Expo 2017, an Expo for Eastleigh business.

The event will be held at New Eastleigh Primary School located along Eastleigh First Avenue, off 8th street this Mubarak June 2017.
The second Expo will be held with the theme of “Kura ya amani ni kujenga nchi’’ which is a Swahili statement and loosely translated ‘Peaceful Elections build the nation.'
This initiative will bring together business oriented individuals and companies to explore business opportunities and to preach peace during the electioneering period to build the country and their businesses too.

Eastleighwood youth forum is a youth led nonprofit organization which has focused to transform lives and livelihoods of Kamukunji youths through arts, media, interactive workshops and forums. 
The organization has in the past brought together youths of different ethnic and religious backgrounds to promote peace in Kamukunji Constituency through various peace building initiatives which is expected to be rolled out to North Eastern Kenya.
In last year’s Eastleigh Annual Expo 2016 event approximately over 50 private companies, 10 academic institutions and over hundreds of business oriented individuals from all over Kenya participated to discuss business opportunities, reflect about future developments and exchanged ideas in last year’s Expo 2016.

They applauded the event and vowed to participate annually.
Besides transforming youths, Eastleighwood has been seeking to bring together Eastleigh businesses to expand their trade through exchanging ideas, discuss business opportunities, networking from the different companies and individuals in attendance to such events.
However, the event is intending to reach out to more than one thousand people directly and over four thousand people indirectly through in two phases.

In Phase one, the event takes place at New Eastleigh primary school where stakeholders of representatives from private companies, academic institution among others will be given the opportunity to show case their products in the spaces provided and through addressing the audience during speech given sessions.

On phase two, it will by means of Road show which includes moving round Kamukunji environs disseminating peace materials and messages.

PLEASE CALL         0708135689 if you are willing to participate.

Psychology of terror: Are terrorists born or made?

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By Christina Chanya Lenjou | Updated Thu, June 15th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Britain has yet to recover from two horrific terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists – the explosion at Manchester Stadium, which killed 22 people and left hundreds others injured and the knifing two weeks ago, of weekend revellers by three attackers who first ran over pedestrians by driving their van over a sidewalk leaving in their wake eight people dead. All these attacks - including those that Kenya has had to endure - leave us wondering if terrorists are normal human beings.

What would make a person do irrational acts like blowing himself up in the name of passing a message to governments? What would make a person show no remorse for killing a fellow human being? There is no stable terrorist profile, and this has severely curtailed our ability to understand who amongst us is most likely to become a terrorist. Scientists argue that human behaviour is influenced by genetic inheritance as well as biological factors. Are people born with attributes that predispose them to becoming terrorists? It has been argued that individuals with psychopathic tendencies or antisocial behaviour are more likely to become terrorists due to their aggressive, reckless and manipulative nature.

 But though psychopaths lack empathy, their general personality is inconsistent with the personality of terrorists. Terrorists operate in groups which demand mutual commitment as well as cohesion and obedience. An antisocial person is unlikely to operate successfully in such a setting. How to spot one ALSO READ: Change tack, stop wanton killings of security officers Contrary to what people think, terrorists do not suffer from mental disorder as various life-cycle studies and interviews with active and reformed terrorists have revealed. Most of them are actually normal, intelligent and well-educated individuals from stable and well-to-do families, although a few may come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A common psychological trait among terrorists is total lack of empathy for their victims. They have learnt to disengage from their enemies by demonising and dehumanising them and therefore they suffer no remorse for killing their perceived enemies. It is, however, not clear whether the qualities of terrorists are inherent or are a result of membership in terrorist organisations, going by their engagement in recruitment, strategic planning, fundraising and logistical planning that requires individuals with different capabilities and psychological attributes. There is, therefore a weak link between genetic inheritance and terrorism. On the other hand, some behaviourists believe that at birth, the mind of a human being is a “blank slate” which is filled with information acquired through learning and experience as the child develops from infancy to childhood. Other social scientists believe that aggression – a characteristic of terrorists – is learnt from the environment through observation and imitation.

 Linking this with the behaviour of terrorists, we find that terrorism is a process involving the exchange of ideas and opinions over time, ideas that slowly push an individual towards violence. It does not occur as a single decision made by an individual. Terrorism is also driven more by political and group dynamics than individual behaviour. Socialisation and social interactions in an environment that promotes radical ideas and beliefs play a big role in shaping one’s mental or psychological attributes. In addition, constant interaction with those already in a terror group often results in the internalisation of their beliefs, and the individual develops an affinity for the group. Once the individual joins, he or she is further socialised into the lifestyles and activities of terrorists, until a change of the mindset is achieved. Eventually, the recruits participate in terrorist activities.

 ALSO READ: Living in the shadow of war against jihadists Individuals also interact with other terrorist groups with the aim of strategising on the best way of promoting their agenda. Individuals living in a culture of collectivism, where their lives are dictated by the interests of a larger group, are also more likely to engage in terrorism if radicalisation and religious extremism dominate their interactions. We wonder why a large percentage of terrorists are youthful. This is because young people are quite vulnerable to radicalisation and religious extremism as they seek a sense of identity, belonging and security which they can only get in groups.

 Groups also help in role definition as well as social status which an adolescent might not be able to get elsewhere. Change for the sake of it? To further support the idea that terrorists are made and not born, the individuals most likely to join terror groups suffer from certain vulnerabilities. Such individuals feel angry, marginalised and alienated. Some feel that there are a lot of injustices in society, and they are able to identify with victims of social injustices and humiliations. Some desire to bring political and religious change in society but feel powerless to do so. In the end, they believe that violence is the only way to effect change and is therefore not immoral. Through violence, they hope to attract sympathy, and gain impetus for more attacks until social change occurs. All these observations support the idea that terrorists are largely made through social interaction with like-minded individuals, and it happens over an indeterminate period of time. It is important to note that different pathways to terrorism exist and each individual takes a different route to become a terrorist.