Hundreds of security officers have for the last five years either quit their jobs or submitted letters of resignation.
The officers, mainly from the Kenya Defence Forces, say they leave the service due to frustration, poor working conditions and “unfounded accusations of being terrorists sympathisers”.
This comes as the National Intelligence Service and the military intelligence wing are said to be closely monitoring officers, mainly Muslims, over alleged radicalisation in security facilities.
This, the Star has learnt, continues to cause deep resentment and suspicion between junior and senior officers. Security analysts have called this situation dangerous and a “ticking time bomb”.
‘They don’t trust us’
“You know, my friend, we serve this country with dedication. But it is disheartening to be branded a terror sympathiser and enemy within,” an officer, who applied to resign, told the Star.
“Military commanders cannot trust us anymore. At one time, we were sent to a border town for an operation to flush out al Shabaab. But four colleagues and I were called back to Nairobi without explanation,” the officer added.
They later learned they were recalled because they “would not conduct the operation properly”.
Contacted for comment, Ministry of Interior spokesperson Njoka Mwenda requested more time to respond. “This is a serious issue. I need to get in touch with various units mentioned,” he said.
KDF spokesperson Col David Obonyo and Commissioner General Isaiah Osugo did not take our calls.
Also closely monitored are prison warders in Kenya’s biggest correctional facilities – Shimo la Tewa and Kamiti.
The officers are accused of “indoctrinating” fellow warders and inmates.
On Tuesday, a police officer based in Embu was picked up by the Anti-Terror Police Unit over alleged terror links.
He was only identified as Jele and his whereabouts are not known.
Some officers are also accused of leaking sensitive security intelligence and frustrating the government’s efforts in combating terror.
“Again, when we choose to quit because we feel we are not being seen as gallant officers like others, ready to defend our country. They [commanders] say we are quitting because we intend to join al Shabaab,” said a visibly distressed officer whom the Star interviewed on Tuesday.
Military officers are not allowed to resign until they serve for 10 years. Desertion attracts severe penalties, including court martial.
Officers said after the January 15 El Adde attack in Somalia, one KDF officer of Somali origin was “unjustly” accused of setting up his colleagues in the Amisom base, leading to the death of about 200 soldiers.
Other officers were “sidelined” after the Operation Linda Nchi where KDF crossed to Somalia in 2011.
“Many of us are at the front line defending this nation. We served in the most dangerous assignments in Somalia, for instance. But, we are suspected of having links with terrorists. This is not good for comrades,” he said.
A mosque in a major military camp within the city is being monitored and lectures closely followed, he said.
“Such behaviour won’t advance this country’s interests. It only breeds insecurity and creates loopholes in fighting against the enemy,” he said.