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Assassination Still a Tool for Power Play


John F Kennedy Assassinated

Assassination is the extreme form of censorship – George Bernard Shaw

Recently, North Korea accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the South Korea’s Intelligence of conspiring to assassinate its country leader Kim Jong Un with a biochemical weapon.

In a statement released by the powerful ministry of state security in North Korea, indicated that, “The Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S. and the Intelligence Service (IS) of South Korea, both hotbed of evils in the world, hatched a vicious plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)…” the North’s KCNA news agency quoted the statement.

If the statement by the North Korea’s Ministry of State Security is to go by, then why are the CIA and the South Korea’s intelligence plotting to assassinate North Korea’s leader? Is it because of Kim Jong Un aggressive and abrasive quest of marshaling more nuclear weapons? Or is Kim Jong Un paying the price of assassinating his half- brother Kim Jong Nam as it is alleged? Kim Jong Nam was attacked by two women, believed to be North Korean agents, at Kuala Lumpur Airport as he was checking in for a flight to Macau. One grabbed him while the other covered his face with some kind of liquid. He died on the way to the hospital on February 13, 2017.

Assassination tactics which date back to the Ancient History and post-modern history have always been a tool used in power struggles between rulers who plotted to silence each other due to religious idealism, retaliation or resentful motives. The end result always leads to death.

Therefore, if the attempted assassination claims by the North Korean’s are true, then Kim Jong Un needs to be very afraid. This is because we have seen cases of prominent leaders in the past who have been silenced by the assassin bullet or other bizarre means that have left some of their deaths until to date unresolved.

For instance, John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy who was the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated on November 22, 1963, by an assassin’s bullet as his motorcade drove through Dallas, Texas.

Benazir Bhutto the once famous Pakistani woman socialist-democratic politician and a former Prime Minister of Pakistan was assassinated on 27 December 2007. Bhutto was killed while leaving a campaign rally for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at Liaquat National Bagh in the city of Rawalpindi, where she addressed a rally of PPP supporters for the run-up to the parliamentary elections in 2008.

After entering her bulletproof vehicle, Bhutto stood up through its sunroof to wave to the crowds. At this point, a gunman fired shots at her and subsequently, explosives were detonated near the vehicle killing approximately 20 people. Bhutto was critically wounded and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital but she was declared dead at 18:16 local time.

In India, Former Prime Minister Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was assassinated at 9:20 AM on October 31, 1984, at Prime Minister’s Residence – No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi. She was murdered by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh.

Another notable leader who was silenced by the assassin’s bullet was Martin Luther King, Jr, a vocal American Clergyman, a prominent leader and a civil rights activist.

Other than the use of a bullet to assassinate some of the leaders, there have been other means to execute the same act leaving but which leaves the death undetected or mysterious to solve. For instance, de-classified CIA documents in the public domain revealed that during the time of Soviet Union, the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (KGB) had a department that was called the “Directorate of Special Tasks” and used “executive actions” or “liquid affairs” (targeted assassinations) to eliminate threats to the Soviet state.

Business Insider reported that the directorate had two special labs that most officers didn’t know about – one for creating unique weapons and explosives, the other for developing new poisons and drugs. Poisons were a favorite for carrying out assassinations because they attracted less attention and were often confused for natural deaths.

For instance, Lev Rebet was a Ukrainian nationalist writer, Nazi death camp survivor, and staunch anti-Communist. He was also the leader of the Ukrainian government for a time. In 1957, Rebet died suddenly of “natural causes” while on a trip to Munich.

In 1961, a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashynsky defected to the West and revealed Rebet’s death was an assassination. The weapon he used was a gun that sprayed a cloud of cyanide gas. Stashynsky also killed Rebet’s party boss, Stepan Bandera, with the gas weapon.

Also, in 1978 communist defector from Bulgaria Georgi Markov was at a London Bus stop when a man next to him dropped his umbrella, hitting Markov in the leg. It hurt, but Markov barely noticed. The man apologized and they both went on their way. Markov died four days later.

His autopsy revealed a pellet in his leg like the size of a pinhead, containing the poison ricin, a deadly poison used in chemical warfare.

In Kenya, on June 10, 2013, George Saitoti, former Vice-President and Internal Security Minister amongst others died in a plane crash. The pathologist who examined the bodies of the former Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his deputy Orwa Ojode a day after the crash said the deaths may have occurred before the aircraft came down.

Dr. Dorothy Njeru before the Justice Kalpana Rawal commission investigating the accident, said that the autopsies on the six victims of the June 10 Helicopter crash, revealed “cherry pink” patches on the bodies, indicating that high levels of carbon monoxide were inhaled and the crash may not have been “a normal aviation accident.”

Recently, another Kenyan Cabinet Secretary in charge of Internal Security died in mysterious circumstances. On July 8, 2017, Major- General Joseph Kasaine Ole Nkaissery died a day after he attended a prayer rally at Uhuru Park, Nairobi and Thirty days before the country goes for the general election. Chants of assassination filled the online platforms. However, a six-hour post-mortem conducted by a team of pathologists led by Kenya’s chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor concluded that Major-General Nkaissery suffered a massive heart attack in his house that killed him instantly. True or not, the death of Major-General Nkaissery will remain a mystery.

However, one man will be remembered for dodging all assignation attempts against him. Fidel Castro, former Cuban President before he died on November 25, 2016, having attained the age of 90 years, had previously survived no fewer than 634 attempts on his life, according to his former secret service chief.

Some of the ploys used in the failed assassination attempts on Fidel Castro’s life were; get Castro to smoke a cigar packed with explosives, wear a fungus-infected scuba-diving suit, and mafia-style shooting and bizarre plans to undercut his prestige by making his beard fall out. In total as per Cuba intelligence, an estimated 638 assassination attempts were made towards Castro.

Once Castro commented that if evading assassinations attempts were part of the Olympic Games, then he would have won several gold medals. But then, how many notable leaders whose fate has been pegged on the Assassin antics will survive the ploy, and if by any chance they succumb to it, will their cause of death been known?

Dennis Munene is a Researcher on Governance and Security at Africa Policy Institute



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Should we cover our nakedness or expose it to the world?

Recently a US based research organization classified Kenya as among the group of failed states and on top of the list was Somalia. A country that has been faced with violence and war for almost a decade or so, a place where the language on rule of law, democracy, peaceful co-existence, harmony is just but a rumor but the language of iron machetes, guns, grenades and blood is a common phenomena to all. Hopefully, Somalia will relinquish its current position soon due to the newly established Federal Government of Somalia under the leadership of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president and Abdi Farah Shirdon as the Prime Minister and also assistance from the Africa continent and world at large.


But the question that still lingers in my mind is; is Kenya really a failed state? For a country to be classified as a failed state there are various factors that are normally considered such as the Legitimacy of the state, Security, Declining public services, Human rights, Demographic pressures, External Intervention, Uneven Development, Refugees & IDP’s, Poverty & Economic Decline, Group grievances and last but not least Human Flight. Allow me to interrogate most of these factors so as to check whether as a country we are a failed state or not?


As a country we do have a legitimate state which was duly elected on 4th March 2013 and thereafter given a clean bill of health by the Supreme Court despite the massive electoral irregularities such as failure of the BVR Kits and the electronic tallying system. Despite the legitimacy of the state, as a country we still face another issue of not being fully accepted by the international community due to the well known ICC issue that surround both our President and his deputy. But can that make us a failed state?


Security is a big issue in our country. Actually the President needs to declare it a national disaster. Every now and then we wake up to news concerning ethnic clashes from Bungoma to Tana River and parts of Northern Eastern. People are killing each other as if it’s a new game. Most of our Sundays wouldn’t end without grenades being hurled into churches, bus stops or Mosques. Killer gangs and Juvenile gangs are mushrooming in most of the informal settlements and our young girls are raped every now and then. Our top police officials (Chairman of the Police Service Commission and Inspector General) are still in limbo of who should have more powers over the other. As a result security in our country is still in question and our safety is definitely not certain.


Declining of public service is still another issue that we are facing. Under the new government the Ministries have been reduced through merging most of the Ministries that were in the former blotted cabinet. Unfortunately this has not solved any issue because the personnel have not changed their minds or their ways of doing things. This is well articulated when one visits any of the Public Hospitals.  Most of our human rights are not well adhered to fully, such as freedom and security of persons, labor relations, assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition.


Demographic pressures are also challenges that we grapple with but they are swept under the carpet by our leaders. We have a large group of retirees who are not able to sustain their living and those whom they depend on, happen to fall under the category of the working class but a large percentage are unemployed. There is also the challenge of external threat from the Alshabab and cattle rustlers from our neighboring countries. There are external influences from certain global financial institutions that issue ultimatums for any assistance they offer us.


When we ushered in the devolved system of government we were all optimistic that uneven development will be an issue of the past but lately it seems it’s only going to be a pipe dream if the current budget estimates from our counties are anything to go by. Our leaders have selectively ignored what is of priority such as solving the issue of IDP’s who are still languishing in torn tents, the issue of poverty increase where basic amenities to some people is a big issue and the current wave of industrial strikes.


We are told that if you happen to see your father walking naked don’t start shouting and calling the villagers to come and see his nakedness but rather cover him. Unfortunately our father enjoys walking naked and despite our efforts to cover him, the villagers have already noticed his nakedness and now they are exposing us by calling us a failed state. Fellow country men my question still lingers, is Kenya really a failed state? If so should we all join the band wagon and expose its nakedness or should we continue to cover it?


Article by

Dennis Mwaniki

Political scientist


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