The attack on twin towers in America on the 11th of September 2001 was all America needed to decisively deal with terrorists: ” we gonna smoke them out.”
That was the usual words from the then president of America George Bush (Jnr) on what he was going to do with terrorists.
With this resolve, the America leadership supported by its people took decisive steps to dismantle the terrorists’ structures wherever they were found. It also took proactive measures to prevent terror attacks in their own soil.
The first step taken was to mobilize the Americans citizens by convincing them that there wouldn’t be any meaningful development without its citizens being secured both within and outside America. Similarly, American economic, political and social interests cannot boom once these terrorists are not nipped in the bud.
Secondly, the USA and their allies mobilized human and material resources to take the fight to the door steps of the terrorists. America and its allies declared total war on Iraq and Afghanistan being havens for terrorists. A lot of Al Qaeda cells were destroyed and about 10 of their prominent leaders were killed. USA troops pursued the Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [pictured above] to Afghanistan and chased him to the mountains of that country where he was holed. He narrowly escaped being napped at Tora Bora cave. He was eventually picked in Pakistan and wasted by American forces on the 2nd of May 2011. The other victory against terror groups was the 2nd total war declared against Iraq with sole purpose of getting rid of Saddam Hussein which they did as he was eventually overthrown in December 2003.
While tackling the international dimension of terrorism, the America took far reaching drastic measures to fortify their land.
US home security, in partnership with public and private sectors and the general public worked decisively to build a new home security outfit by unfolding programmes geared towards effective forestalling of any security threats, maximize the ability to respond and recover from terror attacks, establishment of fusion centres, nationwide suspicious activity reporting initiative, grant funding( it cost $31bn), visa security programme, putting effective measures to control illegal immigrants at sea and airports and border control posts.
These operational and proactive measures put in place by US decapitated and degraded terrorism. Today, America is more secured as it is on record after the 9/11 attack; there was no more terrorist attack on American soil. 40 attempts by terrorists to attack targets in America were foiled. Are there lessons to learn from America in quelling our insurgency that has festered for close to 5years? Based on the America holistic approach how do we tackle these hydra headed monster that keeps on tormenting us.
I must commend PMB initial approach to the insurgency as it is virtually modeled along American standard. The man is fully aware his change mantra anchored on job creation, accelerated agricultural growth, solid mineral development, corruption and security are achievable if only the latter is given top priority. The shuttle diplomacy with our neighbours , the firming of multinational forces, the mobilization of military personnel and armaments, the relocation of command and control to the war zone and operation show no mercy which entails smoking out the insurgents are yielding the desired results as the hide outs of these miscreants are being destroyed daily.
With decisive actions our president has taken, it is very likely that this armed insurrection will soon be history, but are we ready to embark on the proactive measures put in place by USA which have brought about relative peace in the country.
For us to be secured and to enjoy the peace and tranquility we can adopt some of their measures which are putting in place sophisticated security gadgets in our towns and cities, sea and airports, border posts. Our security personnel should be well equipped and motivated. To wipe out the armed insurrection and other related security threats, it comes with heavy price to the economy. The USA congress appropriated the sum $1.6trillion to prosecute the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently studies conducted by various groups, especially by Harvard university indicated that the two wars and the proactive measures put in place could have consumed the sum of $ 4- 6trillion. In fact the huge funds committed to fighting terror contributed to economic depression experienced in US from 2007- 2008? I’m totally in support of voting heavy amount to confront this monster because no viable socio- economic venture can take place without securing our nation.
In addition to adopting the USA counter-terrorism measures; there are however far reaching measures that are peculiar to us that we need to take if we want rid the country of the menace of terrorism.
Corruption that has permeated the armed forces to the extent that the fighting force was deprived of appropriate armaments because the money voted for arms and their welfare has been embezzled. It’s gladdening that PMB is already addressing that.
Potential recruits for enrollment in armed insurrection should be identified and proactive measures be taken to integrate them in the society. The potential recruits are millions of unemployed youth, the Almajiri that are rooming the streets of northern part of the country and the influx of illegal immigrants. While efforts are being made by PMB to implement his campaign promise of creating job opportunities for the citizens, particular attention must be paid to the menace of Almajiri system.
These young boys and girls rooming the streets begging for arms, on the pretext that they are being trained in Islamic scholarship are potential deadly terrorists. These wards because they lack parental love, hardly eat regularly and lack good shelter, they grow to hate the society and become easy targets of the terrorists for recruitment. Because they lack the ingredients of human development, when they graduate from the terror camp, the kill and destroy ruthlessly without compassion. Without a broad and holistic programme for these urchins, the fight against terrorism will only be partially successful.
It’s not about taking them out in the streets as El Rufai did in Kaduna because that will make them go under and fall in the hands of the terrorists ready for suicide bombing and other related criminal conducts. It, also, is not about establishing Almajiri schools. It’s about addressing the matter by resettling them in boarding schools with adequate feeding arrangements and vocational facilities available where they will be taught various trades and after graduating tools and a little capital will be made available them to start small businesses.
It is sad that there is proliferation of religious movements which a sizable number are used for nefarious activities such as terrorism. As a matter of policy, government must sponsor an executive bill to the National Assembly which will empower security agencies to scrutinize religious groups with the purpose of establishing whether their religious beliefs are injurious to the nation or not. The security agencies are also to be empowered to know their sponsors, determine whether they are in the list of the wanted terrorist internationally or not. Their sources of fund must be determined to know if such funds are not sourced from terrorists organizations and also find out if they are supplied with arms or not. Any religious organizations that fail to pass this acid test must be proscribed.
There must be identification of flash points of terror attacks. These flash points must be well secured, using security gadgets, regular aerial and ground troop’s surveillance.
If there is an area that deserves special security treatment is the Trans-Sahara route. This route starts from Arab countries of Libya, Algeria and move down to Chad and then Borno state in Nigeria. This route has been used by our local insurgents to reach out to their collaborators in Middle East who provide them with arms and funds which they used to terrorize our people. Notwithstanding the large size of these borders, security presence in this zone must be very heavy, especially using sophisticated security gadgets to track these undesirable elements that is in addition to having physical structures of immigration service to check the influx of illegal immigrants and soldiers to act immediately when strange movements are detected by the security equipment and gadgets.
These and other measures put in place will aid in no small measure in decapitating and degrading the terrorists as it’s the case with the USA.
Fenny J A Fwa
Ministry of information, Yola