Kenya builds new prison for ‘extremists’ to tackle radicalisation
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans to build a special prison to house “violent and extremist” offenders to keep them from influencing other prisoners, though no timelines were given for its opening. “We will establish a new prison to hold violent, extremist offenders – the truth of the matter is that we cannot allow them to spread their poison to vulnerable Kenyans,” said the President at a graduation ceremony for guards. Kenya already has several maximum security prisons including Kamiti Maximum in Nairobi.
Radicalisation in prisons by Islamic extremists is well documented in Europe and the US, not just in Kenya. Many prisoners who had previously shown little interest in religion converted to Islam while they were in jail and a fair number have gone on to join terrorist groups on release from prison. Kenyatta did not say which terrorist groups he was referring to, but last June he promised a new campaign to stop people joining terrorist groups and to fight the influence of al Shabaab. He said that conventional policing methods would not be enough to tackle the threat from radicalised men and women.
Al Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, has staged a string of attacks in Kenya and surrounding countries aimed at imposing its harsh brand of Islam. Kenyan citizens who had joined al Shabaab were responsible for some of the worst attacks in Kenya in recent years, including the massacre at Garissa University last April.