Perhaps taking a page from U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's book on national security, the east African country of Kenya plans to build a massive wall along part of its border with neighboring Somalia in an effort to prevent terrorists from crossing between nations, Defense News reported. The wall is expected to run nearly 435 miles along Kenya's northeastern border and specifically targets the Somalia-based al-Shabab terror group, which recently launched a series of deadly attacks in Kenya.
“This wall will help us check on people like al-Shabab from crossing to and from Somalia,” Kenya's Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said last weekend in the capital city of Nairobi. It was immediately unclear when the construction would begin.
Trump has proposed building a similarly styled wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico to reduce the number of people illegally entering the country. The businessman-turned-politician has also hinted that the Islamic State group is entering the U.S. by crossing those same borders. The proposal has been rejected by the Mexican government, and Somalia's government has reportedly reacted similarly to Kenya's plans.
“There is a need for joint cooperation between both countries and our leaders in dealing with terrorism, which has affected us negatively,” Nkaissery added.
Al-Shabab is chief among the countries' terror concerns, but the Islamic State group's recent attack in Somalia could complicate matters. It's an indication that there may be a larger terror threat at hand for each country, as well as the region.
In Somalia, ISIS claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive that damaged a vehicle. While that instance is decidedly less deadly than the attacks the group has come to be known for, “it does testify to the presence of Islamic State sympathizers on the ground in Somalia and the potential for the group to inspire fissures among al-Shabab fighters and sympathizers,” Matt Bryden, a Somalia expert based in Nairobi, told the International Business Times this week.
(IMAGE) The proposed 700 km wall in Kenya to close off its entire border with Somalia from Al' Shabaab pic.twitter.com/6NISWojzG6
— American Jihad Watch (@Watcherone) April 23, 2016
Aside from the Kenya-Somalia border wall's considerable length, it is expected to have barbed wire electric fencing, multiple observation posts and surveillance cameras, among other preventative features. The cost for building and maintaining the wall was immediately unavailable, but the Kenyan government has declared it will fund the endeavor entirely.
At least one Kenya politician has expressed skepticism over the government's plan to pay for the wall's construction, reported local news outlet Tuko. “Kenya government doesn’t even have the resources to build over 1000km [approximately 621 miles] of a wall,” said Aden Duale, leader of Majority in the National Assembly.
Al-Shabab attacks in Kenya have taken the lives of more than 400 people over the past four years.