I get a lot of strange stuff in my inbox that’s just not appropriate here, but today was an exception. Someone asked a question and part of the answer was “Kenya Tweet Force”, an irregular cybermilitia supporting the Kenyan government against al Shabaab in Somalia. Their Twitter account, @KTF_press, was only following five others, so this was a good starting clue.
@kdfinfo is actually the Kenya Defense Force and @MajorEChirchir is their spokesman, Major Emmanuel Chirchir. @IntelligencNews belongs to Nairobi based Intelligence Briefs. yahyarmy2010 (brother army in Arabic) is a Sufi – a practitioner of a contemplative practice of Islam similar in temperament to some Buddhist practices or Kaballah. @JustOneBullet relentlessly trolls whatever account the oft banned High Spirit Mission is using at the moment – today it’s @HSMPRESS1.
The @kdfinfo account was the least talkative of the bunch – as one would expect for a formal role account for a military organization. The others each had an average of about forty nodes each which they addressed via @ references. As I examined things I became curious about Kenyan Anthony Ngige @ngigeh, with only 172 followers, but whom everyone addressed. Colonel Cyrus Oguna @ColonelCOguna came out against the now suspended fake @KDFspokesman. KDF head General Julius Karangi was also spoofed with @GeneralJKarangi, and this was suspended, too.
As an official account, @MajorEChirchir‘s demeanor is quite different from that of an official account for a western military officer. He is seen actively seeking information on someone of interest in Somalia and he validates @KTF_press, addressing them in a friendly, personal fashion. The rest of his feed is a fascinating read – everything from handling bomb threats to good natured ribbing of @KenyaPower regarding an embarrassing outage.
The KKL, short for Küberkaitseliit, is an all volunteer Estonian organization created in response to Russian cyber attacks in 2007. This is the first instance where a state sponsored cybermilitia was created. @KTF_press has this to say about its status:
KTF is a #KOT initiative to help KDF to wage a successful cyber war against Al-Shabaab
DISCLAIMER:KTF is not owned/controlled by KDF or any of its members.
So KTF denies a direct connection, but as we can see with the major’s account, things are rather informal and he acknowledges them as a friendly actor. If I can get a bit of assistance from those who know the region one of my next posts will provide a similar view into this High Spirit Mission group and any al Shabaab accounts I can locate.
Those just arriving may wish to examine The Horn Of Africa and U.S. Military In Africa which contain the only mentions of Kenya I have made thus far. Clearing Somalia Of al-Shabaab is something I wrote six months ago, and maybe now I will get some answers to outstanding questions from those who are in the region.