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More than Counter Terrorism Insurance in Africa – Dr. Glen Segell

May 5, 2018


More than Counter Terrorism Insurance in Africa

By Glen Segell

Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies

Volume 6 (2018), Number 8 (May 2018)

Africa’s wars of national liberation have all succeeded. The freedom fighters evolved from being called terrorists by the colonial powers to be state leaders. The new states have evolved from Stalinist-style socialism to Oligarch-type capitalism. Globalization evolved society from eroding traditional to introducing radicalization. The Soviet bloc collapse and Africa took out insurance. Yes, Africa made declarations, signed conventions, passed laws and trains for the counter terrorism of radicalization. This like having car insurance, you hope you have it, but never have to use it.

Each according to his ability will give and each according to his needs will receive was the communist ideological mantra that was induced into the continental efforts in preventing and combating terrorism that have a long history. The domino impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall and withdrawal of former Warsaw Pact forces from Africa led to saw an almost immediate influx of radicalism be it sectarianism, tribalism, ethnicity or religion to fill the void.

As early as 1992, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), meeting at its 28th Ordinary Session, held in Dakar, Senegal, adopted a Resolution on the Strengthening of Cooperation and Coordination among African States [AHG/Res.213 (XXVIII)] in which the Union pledged to fight the phenomena of extremism and terrorism. By 1994 a subsequent declaration also condemned, as criminal, all terrorist acts, methods and practices, and expressed its resolve to enhance cooperation to combat such acts.

The rise of terrorism forced the 1999 OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism adopted by the 35th Ordinary Session of the OAU Summit, held in Algiers, Algeria, that requires member states to criminalize terrorist acts under their national laws. It defines areas of cooperation among states, establishes state jurisdiction over terrorist acts, and provides a legal framework for extradition as well as extra-territorial investigations and mutual legal assistance. The Convention entered into force in December 2002 and to date, 40 Member States have ratified it.

With the insurance policy in place subsequent focus was action for combating terrorism. The 2002 AU Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism (CT) adopts practical CT measures that substantially address Africa’s security challenges, including measures in areas such as police and border control, legislative and judicial measures, financing of terrorism and exchange of information. However, this didn’t prevent terrorism and lessons learnt from around the world by law enforcers led to a proposal in July 2004 to recognize the growing linkages between terrorism, drug trafficking, transnational organized crimes, money laundering, and the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

The insurance policy was further expanded in Article 3(d) of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, which states that the objective of the Council, inter alia, is to ‘co-ordinate and harmonize continental efforts in the prevention and combating of international terrorism in all its aspects’.  Not all states were able to implement this, and radicalization and terrorism increased leading to a decision of the Assembly of the Union [Assembly/AU/ Dec.311(XV)] on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, adopted at its Kampala Session in July 2010, where it underscored the need for renewed efforts and increased mobilization.

In October 2010, an AU Special Representative for Counter-Terrorism Cooperation was appointed with the goal to mobilize support for the continent to fight the scourge of terrorism, assess the situation in various Member States and identify, with the concerned national authorities, priority security issues to be addressed.It was recognized that not all terrorism in Africa is against African targets by African residents.

One example of activity in 2016 was a training exercise hosted by the American FBI, Senegal and Mauritania called Flintlock, a month-long counter-terrorism training exercise to which 30 militaries from the continent and beyond were invited. It was the first-ever attempt to incorporate law enforcement agencies into the drills of terrorist explosive device lessons from examples from the Oklahoma City and Boston bombings. The simulation also involved experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan. To be sure there is an American interest in assisting after the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The ball is rolling but who will stop it, when and how can best be voiced rhetorically for any that dares to speak usually quotes the insurance policy of the above noted declarations, conventions, laws, training and cooperation. They could add maybe naively that there is a comprehensive approach that includes enhanced military capacity, enhanced law enforcement, restricting travel and stemming access to resources, drying up potential sources of recruits, building global partnerships, and providing support to partners on the front lines.

Yet reality persists, and more than an insurance policy would be needed to confront Islamic radical terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, to degrade Al-Shabaab, to enable partners to combat al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and to arrest the growth of extremist groups like Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, and Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah.

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