At least 58 Kenyan students abandoned universities to join terrorist groups in Somalia, Libya and Syria over the last three years.
A government report seen by the Nation further says 14 of the students were recruited into the terror organisations last year while the rest joined earlier.
In other cases, recruited students were found out early and detained before they could leave the country.
The figure could be higher because the authorities have not established the fate of others who have been reported as missing persons.
A number of those who fled have since been killed either in combat or executed after falling out with their commanders.
For instance, Jared Mokaya Omambia, who left studies at Moi University to join al-Shabaab in Somalia, was shot dead by a firing squad after the terror group accused him of spying for the Kenya Government.
Farah Dagane Hassan, 26, and Hiish Ahmed Ali, 25, who were medical interns at Kitale Hospital as they continued with studies, were killed in United States air strikes in Sirte, Libya, where they had joined the Islamic State.
In the most prominent case, Abdirahim Abdullahi abandoned University of Nairobi Law School and joined al-Shabaab.
He was killed at Garissa University College after he led three other militants in gunning down 147 students in one of the worst terror attacks in Kenya on April 2, 2015.
Among the 54 listed in the government report, there are those held in safe houses where they are undergoing rehabilitation.
At the same time, security agents are grappling with the resurgent and increased al-Shabaab attacks in Lamu. The militia has turned the county into a playground, often launching explosive attacks on government installations, security personnel, locals and motorists; killing, maiming and destroying property.
The terrorists have caught security personnel involved in Operation Linda Boni unawares and left many dead.
Between May and November last year, more than 30 police officers were killed in attacks by the terror group. This year, the terrorists have resurfaced with fresh raids targeting security personnel and motorists using the Lamu-Malindi road.
Last week, the attackers raided Ishakani village, a day after killing a woman and injuring five police officers at Nyongoro on the Lamu-Malindi road.
Last Tuesday, tension was high at Ishakani village in Lamu East after more than 100 heavily armed insurgents took over the area and preached radical teachings to the residents.
They hoisted their flag at a deserted local police station before going back to their hideouts. Sources revealed that the attackers have also been conducting daily prayers at mosques in the area at will.
On Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i met security bosses from the region in Mombasa and assured the public that the government was on top of the situation. He said the government will crush the militants and that there was no cause for alarm.
“I have not seen any cause for concern as it were. The isolated criminal incidents such as the one we had on Saturday are matters that we will deal with decisively as we move along because we have the willingness and focus,” Dr Matiang’i said.
And, speaking to journalists on Friday, Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa said the security committee was reorganising its operations to deal with the terrorists.
The government started rehabilitation in 2015 as one of the ways of tackling radicalisation and violent extremism among the youth. The report warns that “gone is the era where terrorist groups targeted vulnerable youths who were illiterate and from poor backgrounds. The changing face of terror has seen the recruitment and radicalisation of the most unlikely targets. The recent trend among the terror groups is the targeting of university students.”
It adds: “With globalisation and the paradigm shift in the digital world, terrorists have exploited social media, among other platforms, to lure university students. Through various portals put up by al-Shabaab, ISIS and other groups, propaganda is easily disseminated to students.
© Alleastafrica and Nation