March 1, 1975 | Nairobi Bus Bombing

On this day in 1975, a bomb explosion ripped open a crowded bus parked in the center of Nairobi killing at least 27 people and injuring 90.

In theory there are as many terrorist groups as there are groups of people: there are always ’causes’ for which some are willing to use violence.

NAIROBI, KENYA — Pick a terrorist group, any terrorist group. Got one? Good. Now have a look at it – a good look. What do you see?

All terrorist groups have ’causes’ which they are willing to fight, and kill, for. They are convinced that there is some kind of injustice or wrong and those must be fixed. Members hold ‘grievances’ against someone or something (a state, another group) and they do not believe that sitting down to talk about what is wrong is a viable option. Hence they turn to bombing, or shooting or sabotage or some other such action.

Let’s examine one group at random to see how this works. I’ll pick Al Qaeda. This organisation was founded in the 1980s in Afghanistan, during the Soviet Union’s propping up of the Afghan government/military occupation. The leaders saw no benefit in negotiating a Soviet withdrawal (which was not probably going to happen anyway) and resorted to terrorist attacks against the Red Army, resulting (in part: it was actually more complicated that that) in the latter’s eventual departure from the country.

And we all know what Al Qaeda went on to do, flush with ‘success’ at evicting one of the world’s largest militaries.

Kenyan People’s Liberation Movement (KPLM)

Sometimes a group arises in an unexpected place, making unclear demands. One good example is the Kenyan People’s Liberation Movement (KPLM): I have never heard of them. But it does have a current-ish Facebook page. Here are some excerpts from 2013:

I think you get the point.

This page does not mention anything violent (which would be against Facebook policies I am sure). But the movement did claim an attack on this day in 1975.

1975 Nairobi Bus Bombing

A bomb explosion ripped open a crowded bus parked in the center of Nairobi killing at least 27 people and injuring 90 in what the New York Times called “an apparently motiveless act of terrorism”. Many of the victims are believed to have been women and children who were waiting in the bus, which was just about to depart on a night run to Mombasa, Kenya’s main sea‐ port, 280 miles to the southeast. Other reports maintain that no claim was issued.

That particular explosion was apparently the third to occur over a three-week time period, although the first to cause casualties. Whether or not the KPLM was behind them, a lot of people died.

Aside from the Facebook page I can find nothing on this group. Its goals are unclear although it is clearly pissed off about something. Kenya may indeed be an unequal nation, but did 27 people have to die to ‘prove’ a point?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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