Recruitment to al-shabab and MRC in Kenya

The reasons why young Kenyans join the Somali militant group Al Shabab are not the same as those they give for joining secessionist group MRC.

According to the authoritative Institute for Security Studies(ISS) led by Dr Anneli Botha very little research has been done to determine how and why individuals join al-shabab and MRC.

The Institute did an academic research in conjunction with Kenyan Muslim Alliance where they interviewed with 95 people associated with Al Shabab, 45 associated with MRC, and relatives of people associated with the organisation.

The research shows that there are very clear differences as to why people join the two groups. Al-Shabab pushes an Islamic agenda with MRC seeking secession hence the two differ despite being heaped in one.

Which means that people join MRC because of ethnic and economic factors while in Al-Shabab the core is radical Islam. The two however have a common enemy which is the Kenyan government.

It also found that the assassination of Muslim leaders has radicalized and served to recruit dozens, if not hundreds, of people into extremist organisations. The research also discovered that the most important factor that made people join Al-Shabab according to 65% of respondents was the government’s strategy in countering terrorism.

The findings also show that Muslims in Kenya feel discriminated against. Economics also played a huge role in why people joined and nearly 96% Al-Shabab and 87% MRC said they had high levels of frustrations when they joined the organisations illustrating the role emotions play in the radicalization process.

More than half of this respondents joined Al-Shabab and MRC between the ages of 10 and 24.