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Terrorism, Ghana and the sub-region – Lessons to learn

Owusu Sekyere Owusu-Sekyere K JNR

Wed, 18 May 2016 Source: Owusu-Sekyere K JNR

The scale of terrorism continues to rise in leaps and bounds. The need to fight terrorism from a multilateral approach rather than a unilateral one cannot be over emphasised. A perfect and sound approach that bears no weakness.

But interestingly this primary principle seems to sometimes fall on some deaf ears when we gather daily to proffer solutions to kerb the rise of insurgency and terrorism as a whole. The fast growing dynamics of terrorism is strengthened by the pillars of collaboration, communication, consistency and funding.

Terror organisations collaborate in the most brilliant of ways. They communicate effectively, share information and are consistent in their pursuit to make incursions at the least opportunity. Above all, their stream of funding is intriguingly smooth and arguably unstoppable.

So whiles interrogating the gathering of Chad Basin member states in Nigeria to tackle the rise of BOKO HARAM at the all important SECURITY SUMMIT, my question is, how far is our collaborative effort going , how efficient are our communication lines, are we going to be consistent in our effort to fight terrorism and are we financially resourced? These questions tinker on my mind.

COLLABORATION:

The consideration for only Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin to be present at this all-important UN Security Summit; even though understood from the perspective of they being most affected by BOKO HARAM still raises questions about the holistic approach as a regional block we are taking.

Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast were missing. Why? But the argument is even much interesting when you get to know about the collaborative effort of these terrorist organisations.

Boko Haram, previously known as a "machete-wielding" mob, have now exceeded their capabilities. The August 2011 UN Headquarters bombing in Abuja, for instance, was similar to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM'S) attack on a UN building in Algeria in 2007.

It is believed the act relied on Nigerians who were trained from abroad with AQIM. It is also believed that they received support from and work in conjunction with both AQIM and Al-Shabab. Eg. In April 2012, Boko Haram in collaboration with AQIM, supported Ansar al-Din, to seize northern Mali from the Malian government. Boko Haram in June 2011, publicly boasted about the training of its members in Al-Shabab training camps in Somalia.

So, folks, they are collaborating far and wide to executive their activities irrespective of their area of operation. My question is, When you build a strategy for those countries in the Chad basin area just because it's Boko Haram; when BOKO HARAM attacks the countries on the periphery or aside the Chad basin such as Togo, Ghana Ivory Coast, etc. what would you make of your effort?

The fact that Boko Haram hasn't operated in these countries doesn't mean they won't. Indeed, if we leave those in the Chad basin to fend for themselves or they believing it's a problem they don't need neighbours even though it's clear their capability is less, then I'm afraid we've delved into the cliché " each one for himself, God for us all". But can this be the way forward?

COMMUNICATION

The numerous regional blocks in Africa though great for integration also poses some communication challenges Bureaucracies and hierarchical approach to communication is an obstacle to swift or fluid dissemination of information.

Terror organizations have now decentralised their activities, i.e cell based; therefore, their lines of communication is also decentralised. Information doesn't have to come from the top anymore. This means they are swift in taking a decision, communicate easily among them, and execute their thoughts smoothly.

So how soon do we hope to share the knowledge of the Summit, how far will we share the knowledge and how do we hope that knowledge is implemented by those who were not part of the security summit? Again we may need to expand the role of civic education agencies and accelerate the dissemination of terrorist activities to the ordinary citizens.

CONSISTENCY

One of the reasons why terror activities continue to bring about fear to the ordinary citizen is because apart from its lethality, it's consistent. They never stop. So we are always on the edge. Fear and Panic gripping us all.

The element of consistency is usually key to the success of every venture. The fight against terrorism is no exception. If terror groups are consistent with their activities, we cannot afford to rest. That reminds me of the Katangese motto: REST NOT.

As member states or regional blocks, the strategy should be consistent. It's not enough to hold security summits once in a blue moon. Daily intelligence gathering, weekly strategies must be employed, monthly reviews adopted and yearly reforms injected in our way of life.

FUNDING

One of the” lifelines” for these terrorists to continue to perpetuate these heinous crimes is funding. It is at the core of their operations. They will stop at nothing to secure and solicit for funds at all cost. The reality is, without funding they aren't going anywhere. But how do they acquire funding?

Operating in a region where about 70% of its population live in poverty, figuring out how Boko Haram finances its activities raises a lot of questions. But this is how their ingenuity plays out.

1. Robberies - they've robbed banks and successful businesses. Eg. In 2011, they robbed a pharmacy of its cash and medical supplies, in Maiduguri (where they are operating. In December 2011, they robbed local branches of Guaranty Trust Bank and Intercontinental Bank.

2. Kidnapping for ransom. Eg. Was the kidnap of the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister of Cameroon in 2014. She was released with others after payment of $600,000.

3. Prominent individuals like politicians also finance them. Eg. Ali Ndume, a senator from Borno State ( Nigeria) was accused of sponsoring them.

4. Also receive funding with the help of AQIM from organisations in UK and Saudi Arabia.

The just ended security summit in Nigeria gave an overview of what the coalition or international partners notable UK, US and France sought to do. UK pledged £40M, US & France were to provide help in reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and strategizing. Great collaboration and good funding.

But does this not tell you something. It's clear we just don't have the money as a regional block to combat terrorism on our own. With regards to the African Union (AU) Peace Fund, it's intended to finance AU-led peace support operations, which includes terrorism. The budget is made up of contribution from AU's regular budget and voluntary contributions from African and International donors. For example, the EU, through its African Peace Facility (APF) supports the AU. From the inception of the APF in 2004 till 2014, the EU has provided the AU with €740 million to support peace and security on the continent.

Vey worryingly, the African countries have between 2008 to 2011 only provided 2% of the budget for the AU Peace Fund. Are we having a laugh or what?

How far can the £40M provided at the just needed security summit go? How many years can it sustain this fight? What other sources of funding are we embarking on? Is there a sustainable fund available? And when we say SUSTAINABLE, we mean a fund that has got the required amount of money in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.

This is where we have to be careful. Loss or inadequate funds will affect the implementation of all the beautiful strategies tabled and weaken the "fire power" of the coalition.

If we want to avoid behaving like ostriches basking and burying our heads in the sand, then regional blocks must make an effort not to limit collaborations with only member states, must reinvent their communication strategies, be proactive & consistent and work tirelessly to have different streams of funding. Though ECOWAS has a special levy called ECOWAS Community levy which member states contribute in the fight against terrorism, if possible a standalone fund for fighting terrorism should be created.

Author:

Owusu-Sekyere K JNR

(Security Analyst)

#RegionalSecurityWatchInstitute

Email: nanaseah@yahoo.com

Columnist: Owusu-Sekyere K JNR