Friday, August 26, 2016

In those years preceding the evolution of spying in Kenya, intelligence gathering was a Herculean task. Human rights activists had field days pitting the government against its citizens for infringement on right to privacy and human rights violations. Terrorists committed attacks in the country every other day and walked free. Security forces were accused of arbitrary arrests and torture of suspects. Prevention of Terrorism and Security Act (POTSA), which gave security agencies discretionary powers, was shot down like an enemy plane in courts. War on terror was lost before it even began.

That’s when we decided to use other methods.

I was the head of the secret Defence Action Team (DAT) that was tasked to secure the country by all means. First, we hired human rights and political activists to make noise about the city state-of-the-art surveillance system installed by the country’s telecommunications giant, Safaricom. The idea was to get the courts to outlaw it so as to assuage the public who were made to believe the system was murdering their right to privacy. Once that was achieved, we perfected the plausibly deniable National Intelligence Service (NIS) stealth surveillance system that the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks, had exposed giving us unfettered access to people’s information, ability to infect and monitor computers and smartphones, intercept private communication, bring down websites deemed offensive to the government, and monitor people’s movement.

We managed to foil many terror attacks, but the terrorists and their facilitators and sympathizers knew this when, for three years, all their attacks were thwarted during the planning stage. They reverted to the time-tested human intelligence techniques: no use of electronic gadgets, and use of couriers and cut-outs.

They planned the greatest terror attack in the country in 2020—an attack on the President during Madarak Day celebrations at Uhuru Park. One of the presidential escort cars, laden with explosives, ploughed into the dais while the President was giving his speech. The First Family was obliterated, cabinet secretaries, diplomats, dignitaries, military command, and two visiting presidents were killed. Death toll was 713.

That attack awoke the country from its apathy. All security agencies were to make Kenya safe at any cost.

I contacted the US Army Defence Advanced Research and Development Agency (DARPA) director: “We’re not winning war on terror in Kenya because of our constitution; rights activists are using it to undermine our efforts, and the courts let the suspects and perpetrators go free because of constitutional rights. We want another approach…”

“How do you want us to help?”

“We want to use your insect drones for intelligence gathering…”

“We’re not having this conversation.”

“We’re on a secure network.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

“Director, we may not have your level of technological capability to spy on our foreign allies, but this we know. You have been working on micro-drones that mimic insect behaviour for long. We are on the same team here, Director, and my country is burning. We cannot have another terror attack…”

There was a long pause over the transatlantic distance before he said, “On one condition—this conversation never took place…”

“Of course.”

“What do you need?”

I spelt out what I wanted.

The Kenya Defence Forces’ Research and Development (R&D) Department together with DAT embarked on a super-spy program, Project Mwewe. Using the DARPA prototype micro-drone that they had been working on for years, we made our own full robotic surveillance insects.

We made mosquitoes, bees, and houseflies. All the insects were enhanced versions of what DARPA had made, with improved aerodynamics, electromagnetic pulse weapons system, miniature cameras, communications systems, energy source, and microchips to help them navigate on their own and make tactical decisions to take down targets of opportunity.

The insects were dispatched in various regions: mosquitoes in the vast North Eastern Province and Somalia, bees to Eastern and Coast, and houseflies in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.

Later on, we made butterflies. We were on top of the game. We were safe. The spy insects photographed, recorded, and even attacked insurgents and terrorists.
This led to the government being accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies in when the majority of the Kenyan public reported that there were houseflies and mosquitoes not dying when crashed with the hand or slapped away. Well, as usual, the government denied existence of anything like that.  

The terrorists wanted to re-establish the Caliphate in the world, using every shade of dogma. Their jihadism caused death, extermination of civilization. The activists talking of infringement on right to privacy didn’t see the other side of the coin, that we had a war to win, terrorists to stop, and the insects—bees and butterflies—helped pollinate crops. Moreover, we had long withdrawn our troops from Somalia, families were happy together without the battlefield deaths that were everyday occurrence ever since the KDF went to Somalia.

As the DAT pioneer, I wanted to fight for my country, murder the dastard terrorists. I did not have to worry of one of our operatives getting caught and spilling their guts out under torture about our plans. 


  1. Lovely...hope this will happen some day.

    1. Thank you Njeri. We are not yet there, and may happen. You never know how far time might push us.


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