Tuesday afternoon’s attack on riverside, Wetlands reincarnated the doom and gloomy scars of terrorism attacks in our nation. People in riverside were unlucky to be the victims of a cowardice act of terror, but thanks to our faithful and brave security agencies, sanity has been restored. Bravo to our brave soldiers and everyone who was involved in saving lives. You showed great loyalty and love for our country. For a change, the operation run by the security personnel was organized and largely effective. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the media. Information is the most powerful ammunition, they should know, and giving it to the wrong person is tragic. In this instance, the media’s careless coverage of the events proved risky and less helpful to the success of the operation.
I am not a security expert, but I believe it is obvious that such kinds of operations thrive more in secrecy and confidentiality. This brings about the element of surprise, in other words, blindfolding the terrorists. The media, however, gave eyes to the terrorist who only needed a twitter app in their phones or access to any news channel in the country to follow up on security personnel plans and deployment. You should know by now that terrorist undergo military-like training, and are equal to the task. Showing them what to expect helps them in strategizing their attacks, to cordon the response team. Social media users also went far to provide specific details of the location of people trapped. Isn’t that making the work of the terrorist a bit easier, telling them exactly where to look?
The same applies to giving information about children of/or prominent people in the buildings. It puts their lives in danger, by turning them from just hostages to the main targets. The success of a terrorist attack is not just the number of people they kill, but the amount of publicity they elicit. The main aim is to instill fear on the citizens, making them loose trust and lack believe on our security agencies and national institutions. All they need is the attention of the media, and as far as riverside attack is concerned, they got it on silver Plata. What we witnessed was a high level of unprofessional and unethical reporting.
Media houses were putting on a show, on a terror crime scene and an ongoing operation. Most of the people there were just the story tellers hindering the operation of the life savers. Other journalist on twitter gave a minute by minute update on how loud the sound of the bombs or explosions are, raising the panic among Kenyans and killing hope, to no one’s benefit. All I imagined was journalists who were actively trying to gain recognition and make the attack all about them, how well and hard they worked and sacrificed to cover the event. The front pages of the daily papers did not help in containing the situation. Front page headings like, ‘Terror in the City’ or ‘Terror in Nairobi’ is a free advertisement for the terrorist, who use the media to terrify the country through the actions of four cowards.
To no surprise, the ‘cold’ international media were not left behind, making their conventional appearance. This time round, it was the turn of the New York Times, Daily Express and The Sun to twist facts and post largely insensitive images of the attack’s casualties. The irrationality and unethical nature of coverage of terrorism attacks in Africa by the international media is shocking. For countries who have witnessed far much worse attacks like the 9/11 or the Paris attack, they should know better. Painting the wrong picture about a country and encouraging the issuance of travel advisories is no different to what the terrorist are doing. They all kill a nation and discredit the peace of a country.
If there is anything we can learn from terrorist attacks, is that the less publicity they get the lesser the success of their attacks.so before we are quick to share information, images and clips or cover such attacks let’s remember why they do all this. Let’s not be turned into vessels through which the terrorist use to deliver their propaganda. Hoping there is never a next time to correct this mistake, crime scenes should be locked down. Only the people saving lives should be allowed to access such scenes and the operations done with secrecy and confidentiality, to avoid giving the terror groups the luxury of peeing on our faces.