Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale is facing criticism for failing to protect Kenya from external attacks in the wake of a recent video released by Al-Shabaab in early September 2023.
The chilling footage released by the Somali-based Islamist group showed the militants using suspected Chinese drones to record as they massacred innocent civilians in Lamu last year.
The attackers gunned down four Kenyans and one Chinese contractor working on the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project on March 11, 2022.
According to reports, the drones were supplied by a controversial Kenyan-Chinese businessman named Zakariya Kamal, who had won a 2-billion-shilling ($18.4-million) tender from the transport ministry to provide drones to the Kenyan government.
Zakariya Kamal allegedly diverted some of the drones he imported to Al-Shabaab, using his network of smugglers and intermediaries.
The drones, which can fly for up to 40 hours and carry up to 345 kilograms (760 pounds) of payload, were used for surveillance and reconnaissance, enabling the terrorists to plan their strikes with precision.
The reports also allege that Zakariya Kamal provided the terrorists with training and technical support on how to operate and maintain the drones.
Zakariya Kamal has a history of involvement in terrorism.
In June 2023 he was accused of buying an assortment of military equipment from China, which he then shipped to Mogadishu in three containers.
The equipment included rifle scopes, material rolls for making military uniforms, portable and foldable solar panels, military-grade walkie-talkies and camouflage suits, night vision goggles, voice recording pens, spy watches, spy glasses, swimming goggles, flashlights, batteries, and military-grade helmets.
One container was intercepted by the Somali authorities at the port of entry, while the other two are believed to have reached their destination and are being used by Al-Shabaab.
Zakariya Kamal was arrested and charged with several offenses under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, including belonging to a terrorist group and providing property for the commission of terrorist acts.
He was arraigned before Senior Shanzu Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda, who ordered him to be remanded in police custody for further investigations.
However, he was released on Ksh.1 million bond ($9,200) after spending only one month behind bars.
His release triggered outrage and suspicions of bribery, given the gravity of the charges against him.
Although born in Kenya, Zakariya Kamal spent most of his childhood and youth in China, where he studied engineering and business.
He returned to Kenya in 2020 and established a company that claimed to deal in the import and export of various goods.
However, behind this facade, Zakariya Kamal was actually involved in a sinister scheme to arm the Al-Shabaab militants, who have for long waged a bloody war against the Somali government and its allies, including Kenya.
Where is Aden Duale?
The Lamu assault is not the only attack that Al-Shabaab has carried out in Kenya, especially in the coastal and northeastern regions.
The terror group has been responsible for several deadly assaults in the past year alone, such as the attack on a bus in Wajir County in December 2022, which killed 10 people.
The attack on a police station in Mandera County in January 2023, killed three officers, and the attack on a military base in Lamu County in February 2023, which killed five soldiers.
This has left many Kenyans wondering what Aden Duale and his ministry are doing to protect the country from these attacks and to prevent the infiltration of weapons and militants across the border by questionable individuals like Zakariya Kamal.
What measures have been taken to enhance the intelligence and surveillance capabilities of the security forces?
Have any steps been taken to coordinate with the regional and international partners to combat the threat of Al-Shabaab and their backers like Zakariya Kamal?
What actions have been taken to hold Zakariya Kamal and his associates accountable for their alleged involvement in arming terrorists?
These are the questions that Aden Duale needs to answer to reassure the public that he is fulfilling his duty as the Minister of Defence.
He cannot afford to be complacent or negligent when the lives and livelihoods of millions of Kenyans are at risk.