‘African countries incapable of dealing with terrorism in isolation’

16 May
Dr. Abdullahi Shehu (right), Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), addresses the Security Council meeting on combating terrorism in Africa, 13 May 2013 (Photo Credit: GIABA Communications)

Dr. Abdullahi Shehu (right), Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), addresses the Security Council meeting on combating terrorism in Africa, 13 May 2013 (Photo Credit: GIABA Communications)

By Modou S. Joof

Dr. Abdullahi Shehu on Monday said “most African countries are incapable of dealing with the problems” associated with terrorism in isolation due to many challenges confronting them.

The Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA, said on 13 May, 2013 that the impact of terrorist acts which are manifested in various dimensions is widespread.

In a paper addressing “Peace and Security in Africa: The Challenges of the Fight against Terrorism in the Context of Maintaining International Peace and Security, he told the United Nations Security Council, UNSC, “that the patterns and locations of these terrorist acts depend on the ideology, intents and capability of the perpetrators”.

 While most terrorist activities have been driven by extremist and political motivations, Dr. Shehu says “We are yet to see perhaps a devastating pattern if terrorist groups are driven by a feeling of deprivation, hunger, poverty and unemployment, and that may be even more difficult to control in a country.”

Close ranks

Speaking at the UNSC Open Debate on Combating Terrorism in Africa in the Context of Peacekeeping and International Security in New York, the GIABA Director General called on national, regional and international actors to close ranks in order to effectively fight the menace of terrorism in Africa.

He noted that the factors exacerbating terrorism include: “Political corruption, weaknesses in the legal framework and institutional mechanisms for the prevention of terrorists acts, inadequate skills and manpower for effective law enforcement, insufficient resources yet competing priorities, and inadequate inter-agency cooperation within countries and internationally.”

“Any strategic approach to the prevention and control of terrorism must also address the financing aspects of terrorism,” he said.

“This will include the institutionalization of a designated authority for the enforcement of freezing orders, clear policies or procedures for the effective dissemination of the lists of terrorists circulated by the UN Committees among financial and non-financial institutions,” he suggested.

Weapon of choice

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United N...

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos Municipality, Graubünden Canton on January 29, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted that terrorism is a threat to Africa’s peace, security and development.

He outlined that from Al-Shabaab in the east to Boko Haram in the west to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in the north, extremist groups and terrorist entities have heartened their presence in a number of regions in the continent.

He claims terrorism thrives where borders are weakest. Also, he said poorly guarded and stored ammunition stockpiles provide unfettered access to weapons, in particular the components for improvised explosive devices which he called “the terrorist’s frequent weapon of choice”.

“The United Nations is strongly committed to doing its part to combat terrorism in Africa.  Success is crucial for enabling Africans to meet their aspirations to live in dignity and peace,” Ki-moon said.

Increasingly complex

The Government of Togo, which organised the Open Debate, said terrorism in Africa now plays a major role on the current international scene. Its features are evolving to become increasingly complex and transnational. Africa runs the risk of becoming its epicentre.

Its Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UNSC Kodjo  Menan, said “terrorism undoubtedly represents one of the most serious threats to international peace and security”.

Menan said terrorism remains a major cause for concern not only for African States, but for the international community as a whole.

In July 1999, the African Union adopted the Convention on the Prevention and

Combating of Terrorism. Also, an additional protocol to establish implementation mechanisms and organs for the Convention was adopted in July 2004.

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