There are many lessons to learn from handling of the Paris terrorist attacks

As we mourn with France, we are reminded that terrorism is a global menace and that we should stand for humanity and confront it from a united front.

We also have vital lessons to learn from France. First, the response by the security agencies was swift.

From the word go, they could tell that it was an act of terrorism and within minutes, they were hot in pursuit of the suspects who did not blow themselves up and who had escaped, thus significantly reducing the number of casualties.

Compare this to Kenya’s Westgate and Garissa University College attacks.

It took the government hours to figure out that it was a terrorist attack and to mobilise security forces to confront the attackers.

And by the time the siege was over, the gunmen had killed most of the hostages.

Second, the media there acted professionally by respecting the dignity of the victims by not publishing gory images of bodies and the injured with gaping wounds writhing in pain.

Compare this to our media, which have previously published such images, not forgetting insensitive attempts to interview traumatised and blood-soaked victims being wheeled into hospitals.

Third, concerning the public, I am yet to see blood-cuddling images of the dead and the severely injured doing rounds on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media.

Parisians respect the dignity of their people, in complete contrast to Kenyans, who have no qualms posting distressing images.

Fourth, following the Paris attack, the Opposition did not hurriedly convene a press conference demanding that the government resign for letting down its citizens.

Rather, all the leaders united in solidarity to address the crisis.

In our case, the Opposition and Kenyans usually react by demanding the resignation of those in charge of security.

Lastly, the government did not issue contradicting statements about the attack.

The information was released to the public from a central source, unlike in our country, where government officials try to outdo one another by issuing contradicting statements.

Let us continue to be vigilant, diligent, resilient, united, professional, and dignified when dealing with acts of terrorism.


There are a number of lessons that Kenya can learn from France on how to prevent and manage future terrorist attacks.

The swift response of elite units of France’s security agencies significantly limited the fatalities and casualties.

IS and Al-Shabaab have demonstrated that they are ready to die, are not hostage takers, and are not interested in any form of dialogue, so the earlier they are neutralised the better.

There is a critical need for Kenya to train more elite forces and deploy them to terrorist hotspots across the country.

Secondly, we need to tighten our border controls, surveillance, and policing.

Better border management would make it more difficult for terrorists to enter or flee the country after a terror attack.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, many other assaults have been prevented by tightening border management and enacting security-related laws.

Thirdly, it is important to note that pictures or videos of dead or severely injured people were not splashed on the covers of newspapers and magazines or broadcast during prime time news in France or Europe after the Paris attack.

Media coverage is the oxygen of terrorism and media can play a big role in discouraging terrorist attacks.

Finally, Kenyans should emulate the residents of Paris by being calm in the face of such disasters.

It is commendable that no life was lost to commotion or pandemonium, especially in the stadium and the concert hall during the Paris attacks.

People should also refrain from running towards a disaster location and instead flee from it.


Europe has reason to worry about the recent wave of refugees and immigrants heading there.

They are reportedly running away from the war in Syria and other countries.

However, in the face of the Paris attacks, it cannot be far-fetched to imagine that this could be a strategy by jihadists to have huge numbers of refugees in European countries as a breeding ground for recruits to mount deadly attacks in those countries. Remember the story of the Trojan Horse?