Tag Archives: kenya

Security awareness for business continuity management

Security awareness training: a building block for business continuity management against extremist threats

Who ever thought that a day at the office would have to be a day spent thinking about the possibility of terrorism, in addition to the normal demands of business?

Probably not most employees of Multinational Corporations doing business in far-flung corners of the globe. While MNCs have always maintained operations in volatile countries and regions, it’s simply an inescapable reality today that the potential for violent extremism has never been greater – and few targets are as appealing to a terrorist as an MNC. That means that employees can never let their guard down, and neither can the companies responsible for both employee safety and security, and business continuity management.

The situation in Kenya is one case in point

While the country’s Jubilee Alliance of thirteen smaller political factions represents a sweeping effort to unite the often fractious nation and consolidate President Kenyatta’s power, it shows little chance of ending violent political and tribal opposition anytime soon. For the many MNCs doing business in Kenya, typically headquartered in Nairobi or Mombasa but with operations throughout the country, safety and business continuity threats ranging from militancy to crime, civil unrest, and other disruptions are an ongoing concern. Both al-Shabaab, the notorious perpetrators of the 2013 mass killings at Kenya’s upscale Westgate Mall, and IS remain active in recruiting and training Kenyan youths for extremist violence, and the threat of future attacks persists.

Knowing that is a first step in guarding against potentially catastrophic disruptions, of course. But MNCs in Kenya, or any hotspot on the globe, also need to prepare in advance for any potential business continuity risks. That means equipping employees with the training they need both to recognize a threat before it evolves into a crisis and to respond appropriately when an emergency actually does unfold, according to Mr. Ital Dar, Chief Consulting Officer at MAX, where employee security training is seen as a cornerstone of crisis prevention and response for MNCs. “Once a large-scale incident or an emergency scenario hits an organization, the main task is to go back to normal as soon as possible,” he said, “and security managers must ask themselves: what are the required measures we need to take in order to so?”

The caveat is, they need to ask the question and find the answers not only in the thick of crisis, but also well before.

Employee security awareness training is key to minimizing risks

You can’t really separate the issue of employee safety from business continuity, or vice versa. The one depends on the other, and the only way to ensure that they are both adequately safeguarded is to provide comprehensive employee security awareness training. Typically for MNCs, that entails enlisting the expertise of knowledgeable consultants, who then tailor employee training sessions to the specific site and circumstances of each office in order to localize the training around specific risks and the most likely business continuity scenarios.

The training is site-specific and classroom-based, and is augmented by not only movies, PowerPoint presentations, discussions and lectures, but also by classroom drills and simulations to provide experiential learning as well as academic context.

Quality employee security awareness training covers a lot of ground

Experts such as MAX Security’s Mr. Ital Dar emphasize that such realistic simulations are critically important in preparing employees to know how and when to respond to a perceived threatening situation. By definition, and by their very nature, terror attacks come quickly and unexpectedly, but it is still possible – in fact necessary – to prepare employees with the tools and experience to assess even the most fluid situation as it happens and make level-headed decisions based on their prior training and planning.

While the particulars of a training regimen should always be tailored to each company and location, a broad outline of topics that need to be addressed can apply to MNCs operating in any location that a heightened terror threat is present. These include delving into relevant threat scenarios, assessing the location of an attack and reacting accordingly to minimize loss, and using the facility itself as a defensive resource, as when a shooting is occurring in one part of the building.

Additionally, and again at an experiential level, training should focus heavily on how to plan for an attack or other threat before it occurs. In such a training module, employees work toward devising a response plan that incorporates clearly defined crisis management and emergency response goals and roles, and then they effectively deconstruct and reconstruct the plan in a tabletop exercise in which they identify and rectify any gaps and missteps in the original plan.

Whatever other topics are covered in the training sessions of any particular MNC, the issue of business continuity management remains central, of course. For that reason, no security awareness training is complete if it doesn’t look to post-event issues and actions, as well as pre-event planning and training on how to respond in the moment. As soon as an event subsides, the aim of any business has to be to return to normal operations as soon as possible. Advance training, planning, and role-playing is an essential tool for meeting those challenges as well, including hands-on exercises that help to identify possible snags and anticipate optimal solutions for if and when they arise.

Business continuity risk assessment begins with training

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that no business – certainly no MNC operating in a volatile land – can take security for granted. Not in the 21st century. And not in a country like Kenya, where deep-seated political rivalries, tribal and ethnic divisions, persistent war and terrorism in neighboring states, and the unwelcome presence of some of the most destructive terror groups in the world today, make threats to business operations a very real and present danger.

Against that backdrop, MNCs are likely to conclude that high-quality employee security awareness training is one of the best tools they have at hand to reduce the always-present threat to business continuity.


Read more posts like this in our Security Blog.

Max Security Analysis Kenya: President Kenyatta’s government under increased pressure over rising threat of militancy amidst growing ethno-political animosity. June 22, 2014

Kenyan soldier after the explosion
In the aftermath of the June 15-16 militant attacks in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, which left more than 60 people dead, belligerent political and ethnic rhetoric has sharply risen between President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government and the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD). Moreover, the US State Department issued a travel warning on June 19, alerting US nationals of the risks of travel to Kenya while restricting its staff from all travel to the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and the coastal portion of Tana River County. On June 20, Kenya’s Interior Ministry asserted that its security forces killed five suspected militants armed with AK-47 rifles in the Mpeketoni area, although an estimated 50 assailants took part in the attacks on June 15-16, most of whom are presumed to still be at large.
  • The Somali militant group al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab, reportedly claimed responsibility for the Mpeketoni attacks through the group’s Somali radio channel, Andalus FM. The man alleging to be Abdulaziz Abu Musab stated that the “Mujahideen who carried out the Mpeketoni attack are all safe,” and that they killed 70 “enemies” while denying previous rumors of abductions.
  • Witness statements indicate that the Mpeketoni assaults were conducted by predominantly Somali speaking assailants allegedly carrying al-Shabaab flags. The attackers specifically targeted non-Muslim males, mainly of the Kikuyu tribe, as well as people watching the World Cup. The Kenyan government has subsequently urged citizens to watch the competition at home instead of in “crowded and unprotected open places.”
  • However, President Kenyatta refuted al-Shabaab’s claim of responsibility, and instead implicitly accused opposition leader Raila Odinga and his CORD faction of the attacks, which were allegedly aimed at sparking instability and ethnic tensions. In response, Odinga rejected these allegations, stating that the Mpeketoni attacks are a result of the Jubilee government’s inability to curb growing militancy.
  • On June 19, a pro al-Shabaab social media account that Kenyan police allege claimed responsibility for the attacks was closed down. The account’s owner, Ishmael Omondi, who is a Kenyan national, was arrested in Nairobi, and subsequently released following questioning.
  • The attacks have had deep political ramifications, and the opposition CORD’s rally slated for June 21 in Nakuru County, as part of Odinga’s campaign for national dialogue, was reportedly cancelled following the discovery of hate leaflets. The leaflets urged Odinga’s local Luo tribe to vacate the Rift Valley region or face consequences. Subsequently, the government has banned all political or tribal rallies in the town of Naivasha, Nakuru County, out of fear of ethnically motivated violence.
  • George Aladwa, the former Nairobi Mayor and Nairobi County Chairman for Raila Odinga’s party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) was reportedly arrested on June 21, allegedly after calling for the swearing in of Odinga as President on July 7 (Saba Saba Day), if the government refuses national dialogue.
  • Additionally, nine Senators and MPs affiliated with CORD were summoned on June 20 by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) over allegations of hate speech. 

Continue reading Max Security Analysis Kenya: President Kenyatta’s government under increased pressure over rising threat of militancy amidst growing ethno-political animosity. June 22, 2014

Kenya: Uptick in militant attacks underlines security forces’ inability to effectively combat militancy, fresh radicalization of Muslim youth [May 13, 2014]

A wave of bombings has taken place in Nairobi and Mombasa since the beginning of May, leaving seven people dead. The attacks are the manifestation of the growing threat of militancy in the country and underline the backlash from failed counter-militancy operations in Kenya as well as the ongoing successful military campaign of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) against al-Shabaab. Moreover, security officials warned on May 13 of fake messages circulating through text messages and social media regarding false alarms for militant attacks, which is indicative of a growing public obsession with and fear of the threat of militancy.

  • On May 3, coordinated attacks occurred in Mombasa, the country’s most important port city and a locale popular among foreign tourists. The first bomb attack targeted the Reef Hotel in the Nyali area of Mombasa, leaving only property damage. The second attack was conducted by unknown militant who threw a grenade at a gathering of people at a local bus station, leaving four people dead. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • During the evening hours of May 4, twin bomb attacks on public transportation buses in northeast Nairobi killed three people and injured at least 86. Both buses were scheduled to travel outside of the capital along the Thika Superhighway and were reportedly blown up by the use of remotely detonated explosive devices.
  • On May 2, security forces engaged an estimated 30 militants, killing two, as the insurgents, armed with firearms and explosives, attempted to launch an attack on the Mandera power station in northeast Kenya . The incident occurred a day after a similar reported attack against a power station in nearby Wajir County.
  • Garissa County police forces and Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) thwarted a possible attack during the afternoon hours of May 5, after detonating a grenade noticed by bystanders at the Boystown Primary School playground.
  • In the aftermath of the recent attacks, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared that the ongoing security crackdown in the country carried out by security forces against al-Shabaab affiliated militants will be intensified in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Continue reading Kenya: Uptick in militant attacks underlines security forces’ inability to effectively combat militancy, fresh radicalization of Muslim youth [May 13, 2014]

Intelligence Analysis: Jihadist influences in Tanzania

“I pointed out to you the stars, and all you saw was the tip of my finger.” Today, this locally revered Tanzanian proverb should resonate deeply within the minds of anyone who fears the spread of Islamic extremism in Africa. On Tanzania’s island paradise of Zanzibar, the killing of a Catholic priest by Muslim extremists on February 23 points to series of mounting and long-ignored signals that the continent’s jihadist wave is expanding south and affecting security. Since October 2012, this traditionally tranquil tourism hub has been awash with sectarian strife. It began when a dispute between two local schoolchildren resulted in the defilement of a Koran, sparking outrage in Tanzania’s large Muslim community.At least four churches across the country were attacked in the aftermath, in what may just prove to be a watershed moment in Tanzania’s modern history.

In February 2013, religious tensions in Zanzibar continued to simmer due to a dispute over butchering rights, sparking titfor- tat attacks between Christians and Muslims, ultimately resulting in the beheading of one priest and the fatal shooting of another inside his own church. A self-proclaimed local al-Qaida branch calling itself “Muslim Renewal,” took credit for the shooting as its inaugural attack.Fourteen years before the Zanzibar unrest, Tanzania took center stage, with all fingers pointing at al-Qaida militants after a deadly bombing attack at the US embassy in Dar es-Salaam. This event, along with the bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi, brought names like Osama bin-Laden and Ayman al- Zawahiri into the public sphere for the first time. Then-US president Bill Clinton responded by launching cruise missiles at al-Qaida bases in Sudan and Afghanistan. Despite the participation of local East Africans in the attacks, however, few concrete measures were taken to curb radicalization in the region.

Muslim residents of Zanzibar set fire to a Christian church.
Muslim residents of Zanzibar set fire to a Christian church.

By May 2012, the global jihad network would rear its ugly head in Tanzania once more, after a bombing attack occurred in the Kenyan capital, targeting a prominent shopping district. While blame was placed squarely on Somalia’s al-Shabaab, the arrest of a German national in Tanzania in connection to the attack largely went unnoticed. The man, reportedly of Turkish descent, had undergone training in al- Qaida camps in Pakistan.
Continue reading Intelligence Analysis: Jihadist influences in Tanzania

Israel’s Revamped Policy of Peripheral Alliances

The Jewish State will continue to secure its interests by aligning with nations beyond the greater Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu greets South Sudanese President Salva Kiir

Following the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel managed to deescalate its decades long conflict with the Arab world with an earnest effort to forge a peace process with the Palestinians with a goal to quell mutual hostility and acrimony. Over the last decade, however, the peace talks witnessed setbacks beginning in 2001, which subsequently led to an escalation in violence. Frustration with negotiations and actions taken by Israel’s leadership led to a militant campaign carried out by the PLO and other Palestinian factions, making Israel vulnerable to heightened security threats. This escalation hampered the Jewish state’s diplomatic ties, especially with its one time regional ally, Turkey. Due to the escalation and its confrontation with ongoing diplomatic challenges, Israel has responded by returning to and employing an ‘old’ foreign relation policy in a new way.

Continue reading Israel’s Revamped Policy of Peripheral Alliances

The Tuareg Factor

One tribe’s cooperation with various militant groups will continue to challenge stability in some of Africa’s most vital nations

By Jay R.

Since the downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya early last year, weapons proliferation throughout the Middle East and North Africa is on the rise and of primary concern. It is now widely known that masses of Libyan weaponry have made their way into the hands of such militant groups as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, and Somalia’s al-Shabaab. Libyan weaponry has traveled as far as the Gaza Strip and appeared in hand of militant groups there.

Tuareg militants en route to Libya from Mali (Sahara Times)

With the recent unrest in Somalia and Nigeria, the above-mentioned groups have been deeply reported on. However, one tribe, heavily active in Africa’s Sahel desert region is operating under the radar in comparison. The Tuareg tribe, composed of 1.2 million people, is historically nomadic. They have long roamed northwest Africa, primarily through the nations of Algeria, Libya, Mali, and Niger. Today, the group has become sedentary, the result of which has seen the Tuaregs actively engage such countries, particularly the Malian government, for stakes in power sharing and wealth benefits from the country’s natural resources.

The ongoing battle for the Tuareg’s perceived rights most recently manifested in the two-year Tuareg Rebellion in Mali and Niger from 2007-2009. This rebellion was ended through a series of peace talks and amnesty allowances; however, the conflict persists to this day as the Malian government regularly takes on the Tuareg militants along the Nigerian border.

Continue reading The Tuareg Factor

Nigeria’s Struggle for Stability

By Jay R.   

Sectarian-fueled insurgency, secessionist movements, and widespread discontent amongst the population are just some of the issues facing Nigeria’s first truly democratically elected leader.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathon

After his election, there was great hope for President Goodluck Jonathon amongst the populace. He was elected with 57% of the vote, after receiving significant support from the Nigeria’s youth, a key demographic in a nation whose average age is 19.  To them he represented a change from the past and would bring Nigeria to realize its true potential as Africa’s most populous nation with a plethora of oil and mineral resources.

It is clear now however, that charisma alone is not sufficient to rule a country that is so deeply rooted with sectarian divide and government corruption.  Jonathan’s obstacles were evident from the beginning when on that Election Day in April 2011, the predominantly Muslim northern states erupted in violent response to Jonathan’s success, leaving hundreds of people dead in the streets.  Continue reading Nigeria’s Struggle for Stability

Travel to Nairobi: Is Al Shabaab still a threat?

Al Shabaab militants in southern Somalia. (AFP) The group has threatened to attack Kenya in response to its military incursion.

By Max Security’s Intelligence Department 

In October 2011, the Kenyan military began a major operation in neighboring Somalia to root out one of Africa’s most notorious militant groups- Al Shabaab. The invasion added Kenya to the growing list of nations which have become embroiled in the fight to stabilize the troubled Horn of Africa, after previous campaigns by Ethiopia, Uganda, and International peacekeepers failed to do so. While the invasion itself initially resulted in rapid gains for the Kenyan Defence Forces, fear quickly rose in Kenyan urban centers over the fears of a massive retribution attack by Al Shabaab militants.

Those fears are certainly justified, especially given the numerous threats made by Al Shabaab leaders. First and foremost, Al Shabaab cells in Somalia have succeeded in carrying out complex and coordinated mass-casualty attacks in Mogadishu time and time again. In addition, a massive suicide bombing on World Cup viewers in Uganda in which over 60 people perished is also attributed to the Islamist group which is believed to have taken revenge on Uganda for its prominent role in peacekeeping operations in Somalia.  Lastly, there are a considerable number of Somali citizens living around Kenya, while many Somali-Americans have returned to their homeland where their dual citizenship was utilized to carry out attacks. Lastly, Kenya itself has suffered a significant amount of high-profile attacks by Al Qaeda linked militants in the past, including a 2003 hotel bombing in Mombasa and the infamous 1998 American embassy bombings. Continue reading Travel to Nairobi: Is Al Shabaab still a threat?