LEFT: A vehicle that was intercepted in Merti, Isiolo County, while transporting five Al-shabaab terrorists. RIGHT: Grenades seized by police during the operation. PHOTOS | COURTESYLEFT: A vehicle that was intercepted in Merti, Isiolo County, while transporting five Al-shabaab terrorists. RIGHT: Grenades seized by police during the operation. PHOTOS | COURTESY

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t help imagining the gruesome aftermath had a planned terror attack in Nairobi city last week succeeded.

It is terrifying to picture 36 grenades, five AK 47 rifles, over 1,000 bullets and a car rigged with 18 IEDs, all in the hands of suicidal death merchants.

All factors considered, we have every reason to thank God that the city was spared an attack of potentially devastating magnitude.

But while terrorism remains a worrying global phenomenon, the manner in which the suspects were apprehended gives renewed confidence and hope that together we can conquer this irritating problem.

Just to refresh you, it is members of the public in Merti, Isiolo Couty, who alerted police officers on patrol that they had spotted a car suspiciously parked in a thicket.

A team of officers from different units was hurriedly assembled and rushed to the hideout where they killed one attacker and arrested two.

SWUNG INTO ACTION

Meanwhile, the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit instantly swung into action in Nairobi and arrested two more suspected accomplices.

Human beings naturally sense danger. In such scenarios, they have the option to take action, or simply brush off the threat.

The residents of Merti deemed it their responsibility to secure their own surrounding and in doing so, prevented an obvious tragedy, possibly saving hundreds of their compatriots many kilometres away in Nairobi.

They boldly underlined the statement that national security begins with us. They did not wait to wail vainly over bloody images in the media, or accusingly point fingers at whoever they feel failed to do his job to keep Kenya safe.

Just like soldiers on the frontline in Somalia, they took action. They are true but rather unsung heroes.

It goes without saying that the government has in the last three years done well to suppress the frequent Al Shaabab attacks that saw the country branded a “terror hotbed”.

This can primarily be attributed to the freshly-realized multi-agency cooperation that has seen the National Intelligence Service, the military, the police and regional administrators work closely together to combat terrorism and other criminal activities.

TERROR ATTACK

Those privy to the security situation will tell you that for every successful terror attack reported today, five or more are thwarted.

Yes, there are men and women who silently endure days with no comfort, rest or sleep just to make sure that critical installations, including the Standard Gauge Railway, remained safe for public use.

But despite all the sophisticated equipment, technology and other substantial security resources at their disposal, their toil could generally be futile without me and you; the ordinary wananchi.

It is a real possibility that the patrol officers in Merti could have driven past the obscured terrorists’ vehicle without spotting it. But it could not escape the attention of say a local going for a short call, grazing or gathering firewood.

In the same light, a baby stolen from Kenyatta National Hospital last Sunday could not have been found were it not for an observant neighbour who called the police after noticing that the suspect had come home with a newborn despite having lost her pregnancy earlier.

Edinah Kemunto, the suspect in the theft of a baby from KNH, who had initially given her name as Faith Kwamboka, said she planned to sell the infant for Sh7,000 to a customer whom she only named as Jennifer. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Edinah Kemunto, the suspect in the theft of a baby from KNH, who had initially given her name as Faith Kwamboka, said she planned to sell the infant for Sh7,000 to a customer whom she only named as Jennifer. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

It is possible the culprit had assuredly encountered security officers on her way home; but they are human after all and there is no way they were going to suspect she was a baby thief.

Only those who know her well could pick the incriminating leads, in the process saving the affected family a lifetime of agony.

The overwhelming message is that we ought to always be alert and conscious of our surroundings, and refine a “sixth sense” that helps us detect and effectively react to danger on time.

By being our brothers’ keeper, terrorists, robbers, and even muggers will sweat to sustain their lifestyles, and thus be less of a bother.

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