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Global Alternative Agenda

The Global Alternative Agenda is an international non-governmental organization established and funded as a project of Global Crusaders Service Limited in June 2001 to address the need of young people in Africa

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Oludare Ogunlana

Oludare Ogunlana, Convener reading welcome remarks

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Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensa

Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensa, Ghanaian National Security Adviser declaring the event open

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Defense Attachee, US Embassy in Ghana

Defense Attachee, US Embassy in Ghana

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Guest Speakers

Guest Speakers

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Participants

Participants

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Award Presentation

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Award Presentation

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Award Presentation

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Participants

Participants

Friday, 24 November 2017

285 killed, 300 wounded in terrorist attack in Egypt - Homeland Security Newswire

A packed mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai was attacked by gunman earlier today, at the height of Friday prayers. The gunmen set off explosives and opened fire, killing at least 285 people and wounding about 300 in the deadliest ever attack on Egyptian civilians by Islamic terrorists.
The Guardian reports that the attack took place at the Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, about forty kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of el-Arish.
The Sinai has seen repeated deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the last four years.
Sky News Arabia said Egyptian military forces had destroyed two vehicles carrying perpetrators of the attack.
An army spokesperson told the TV network that unmanned drones had attacked two cars in a desert area called al-Risha, killing fifteen militants. He added that the hunt for other perpetrators was ongoing.
Witnesses said the attackers surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles, then planted a bomb outside. The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshipers as they attempted to flee, and used the congregants’ own vehicles to prevent rescuers and police from getting near the mosque.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi convened his security ministers to deal with the attack.
Egyptian officials said men in four off-road vehicles detonated an explosive device at the mosque during the sermon at Friday prayers, then opened fire on worshipers as they fled the building. After killing or wounding most of those fleeing the attack, a few of the militants entered the mosque and shot dozens of wounded worshippers who were trapped inside the building.
Other militants remained outside, shooting at ambulances which tried to pick up the wounded.
The Guardian notes that ISIS’s Egyptian branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.
The Egyptian military has struggled to defeat the jihadists, and in the past few months has increased cooperation with the Israeli military.
Until recently, the jihadists targeted mostly soldiers and members of Egypt’s security forces, but since earlier this year have increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the Egyptian army.

Monday, 29 May 2017

FBI warned MI5 that Salman Abedi was planning terror attack in U.K. - Homeland Security Newswire

The FBI informed MI5, the British intelligence agency, that Salman Abedi was planning an attack on U.K. soil — three months before he blew himself up a concert hall in Manchester. 
Mail on Sunday reports that the FBI told MI5 that Abedi was part of a North African Islamic State cell based in the north west of England, and which was plotting attacks in the United Kingdom.
Informed sources say that Abedi was placed on a U.S. terrorist watch list in 2016 after U.S. intelligence, while monitoring Islamist groups operating in Libya, noticed his communications with one of the groups.
“In early 2017 the FBI told MI5 that Abedi belonged to a North African terror gang based in Manchester, which was looking for a political target in this country,” a security source told the Mail on Sunday.
“The information came from the interception of his communications by U.S. federal agents, who had been investigating Abedi since the middle of 2016, and from information unearthed in Libya, where his family was linked to terrorist groups.
“Following this U.S. tip-off, Abedi and other members of the gang were scrutinized by MI5. It was thought at the time that Abedi was planning to assassinate a political figure. But nothing came of this investigation and, tragically, he slipped down the pecking order of targets.”
MI5’s procedures have been questions as a result of what many see as the ability of Abedi to slip through the net, but the U.K. law enforcement, intelligence, and defense officials highlight the fact that at any one time they are conducting about 500 terror investigations involving 3,000 individuals (these investigations look not only at would-be terrorists, but also at their support network).
The British police has arrested fourteen people on suspicion of being part of the network which aided Abedi (two of whom have since been released).
The Manchester police say that they believe they have arrested “a large part of the network” involved in planning the attack.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cyber attacks ten years on: from disruption to disinformation By Tom Sear - Homeland Security Wire


Today – 27 April — marks the tenth anniversary of the world’s first major coordinated “cyberattack” on a nation’s internet infrastructure: Russian government hackers attacked the computer systems of the government of Estonia in retaliation for what Russia considered to be an insult to the sacrifices of the Red Army during the Second World War. This little-known event set the scene for the onrush of cyber espionage, fake news, and information wars we know today. A cybersecurity expert recently told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that to understand current Russian active measures and influence campaigns — that is, to understand cyber operations in the twenty-first century – we must first understand intelligence operations in the twentieth century. Understanding the history of cyber operations will be critical for developing strategies to combat them. Narrowly applying models from military history and tactics will offer only specific gains in an emerging ecosystem of “information age strategies.” If nations wish to defend themselves, they will need to understand culture as much as coding.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the world’s first major coordinated “cyberattack” on a nation’s internet infrastructure. This little-known event set the scene for the onrush of cyber espionage, fake news, and information wars we know today.

In 2007, operators took advantage of political unrest to unleash a series of cyber measures on Estonia, as a possible form of retribution for symbolically rejecting a Soviet version of history. It was a new, coordinated approach that had never been seen before.
Today, shaping contemporary views of historical events is a relatively common focus of coordinated digital activity, such as China’s use of social media to create war commemoration and Russia Today’s live-tweeting the Russian Revolution as its centenary approaches.

In 2017 and into the future, it will be essential to combine insights from the humanities, particularly from history, with analysis from information operations experts in order to maintain cybersecurity.
Estonia ground to a halt
A dispute over a past war triggered what might be called the first major “cyber attack.”
On 27 April 2007 the government of Estonia moved the “Soldier of Tallinn” – a bronze statue that commemorated the Soviet Army of the Second World War – from the center of the city to a military cemetery on Tallinn’s outskirts. The action followed an extensive debate over the interpretation of Estonia’s past. A “history war” concerning the role of the Soviet Union in Estonia during and after the Second World War had split Estonian society.

Several days of violent confrontation followed the statue’s removal. The Russian-speaking population rioted. The protests led to 1,300 arrests, 100 injuries, and one death. The disturbance became known as “Bronze Night.”
A more serious disruption followed, and the weapons were not Molotov cocktails, but thousands of computers. For almost three weeks, a series of massive cyber operations targeted Estonia.
The disruption – which peaked on 9 May when Moscow celebrates Victory Day – brought down banks, the media, police, government networks and emergency services. Bots, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and spam were marshalled with a sophistication not seen before. Their combined effects brought one of the most digital-reliant societies in the world to a grinding halt.

The Tallinn Manual
In the aftermath, NATO responded by developing the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia. A major contribution of the center was the publication of the Tallinn Manual in 2013 – a comprehensive study of how international law applied to cyber conflict. The initial manual focused on disabling, state-based attacks that amount to acts of war.
Tallinn 2.0 was released in February 2017. In the foreword, Estonian politician Toomas Hendrik Ives argues: “In retrospect, these were fairly mild and simple DDoS attacks, far less damaging than what has followed. Yet it was the first time one could apply the Clausewitzean dictum: War is the continuation of policy by other means.”
The focus of the new manual reveals just how much the world of cyber operations has changed in the ten years since Bronze Night. It heralds a concerning future where all aspects of society, not just military and governmental infrastructure, are subject to active cyber operations.
Now the scope for digital incursions by one nation on another is much wider, and more widespread. Everything from the personal data of citizens held in government servers to digitized cultural heritage collections have become issues of concern to international cyber law experts.

A decade of cyber operations
In the ten years since 2007 we have lived in an era where persistent cyber operations are coincident with international armed combat. The conflict between Georgia (2008) and Russia, and ongoing conflict in the Ukraine (since 2014) are consistent with this.
These operations have extended beyond conventional conflict zones via intrusion of civic and governmental structures.
There are claims of nation-state actors active measures and DDoS incidents (similar to those that may have disabled last year’s Australian census) on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in 2009.
German investigators found a penetration of the Bundestag in May 2015.
The Dutch found penetration in government computers relating to MH17 reports.
Now, famously, we know there were infiltrations between 2015-16 into U.S. Democratic party computers. Revealed in the last few days, researchers have identified phishing domains targeting French political campaigns.
There are even concerns that, as Professor Greg Austin has explained, cyber espionage might be a threat to Australian democracy.
Recently, the digital forensics of a computer hacked in 1998 as part of an operation tagged Moonlight Maze revealed that it is possible that the same code and threat actor have been involved in operations since at least that time. Perhaps a 20-year continuous cyber espionage campaign has been active.
Thomas Rid, Professor in Security Studies at King’s College London, recently addressed the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence regarding Russian active measures and influence campaigns. He expressed his opinion that understanding cyber operations in the twenty-first century is impossible without first understanding intelligence operations in the twentieth century. Rid said: “This is a field that’s not understanding its own history. It goes without saying that if you want to understand the present or the future, you have to understand the past.”

Targeting information and opinion
Understanding the history of cyber operations will be critical for developing strategies to combat them. But narrowly applying models from military history and tactics will offer only specific gains in an emerging ecosystem of “information age strategies.”
The international response to the “attack” on Estonia was to replicate war models of defense and offence. But analysis of the last ten years shows that is not the only way in which cyber conflict has evolved. Even the popular media adopted term “cyberattack” is not now less encouraged for incidents smaller than Estonia as it masks the vulnerability and risk of the cyber security spectrum.
Since Estonia 2007, internet-based incursions and interference have escalated massively, but their targets have become more diffuse. Direct attacks on a nation’s defense forces, while more threatening, may in the future be less common than those that target information and opinion.
At the time, the attack on national infrastructure in Estonia seemed key, but looking back it was merely driving a wedge into an existing polarization in society, which seems to be a pivotal tactic.
Nations like Australia are more vulnerable than ever to cyber threats, but their public focus is becoming more distributed, and their goal will be to change attitudes, opinions and beliefs.
A decade ago in Estonia, a cyber war erupted from a history war. The connection between commemoration and information war is stronger than ever, and if nations wish to defend themselves, they will need to understand culture as much as coding.

Tom Sear is Ph.D. Candidate, Australian Centre for Australian Centre for Cyber Security, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW. This article is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution / No derivative).

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Tech coalition fights DHS proposal to collect social media passwords - Homeland Security News Wire

Earlier this week, the Center for Democracy & Technology announced the creation of a coalition of tech companies, NGOs, and privacy advocates to oppose efforts by DHS to collect social media passwords from individuals entering the United States.

TechCrunch reports that the coalition focuses on visa applicants who might be compelled to share their passwords under new DHS policies.
“DHS should take the idea of making blanket demands for passwords off the table,” Center for Democracy & Technology Free Expression Project Director Emma Llansó told TechCrunch. “The idea is unbelievably invasive and will put U.S. citizens and foreign travelers alike at risk.”
Last week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) sent a letter to DHS secretary John Kelly, in which the senator pointedly criticized government agencies requesting access to locked devices and social media accounts.

The full statement from the Center for Democracy & Technology:
The undersigned coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations, trade associations, and experts in security, technology, and the law expresses deep concern about the comments made by Secretary John Kelly at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on February 7th, 2017, suggesting the Department of Homeland Security could require non-citizens to provide the passwords to their social media accounts as a condition of entering the country.
We recognize the important role that DHS plays in protecting the United States’ borders and the challenges it faces in keeping the U.S. safe, but demanding passwords or other account credentials without cause will fail to increase the security of U.S. citizens and is a direct assault on fundamental rights.

This proposal would enable border officials to invade people’s privacy by examining years of private emails, texts, and messages. It would expose travelers and everyone in their social networks, including potentially millions of U.S. citizens, to excessive, unjustified scrutiny. And it would discourage people from using online services or taking their devices with them while traveling and would discourage travel for business, tourism, and journalism.

Demands from U.S. border officials for passwords to social media accounts will also set a precedent that may ultimately affect all travelers around the world. This demand is likely to be mirrored by foreign governments, which will demand passwords from U.S. citizens when they seek entry to foreign countries. This would compromise U.S. economic security, cybersecurity, and national security, as well as damage the U.S.’s relationships with foreign governments and their citizenry.

Policies to demand passwords as a condition of travel, as well as more general efforts to force individuals to disclose their online activity, including potentially years’ worth of private and public communications, create an intense, chilling effect on individuals. Freedom of expression and press rights, access to information, rights of association, and religious liberty are all put at risk by these policies.

The first rule of online security is simple: Do not share your passwords. No government agency should undermine security, privacy, and other rights with a blanket policy of demanding passwords from individuals.

Culled from Homeland Security News Wire

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

UN envoy strongly condemns attack on UN team near Nigeria-Cameroon border - UN News

Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Head of United Nations for West Africa (UN Photo)
1 February 2017 – Strongly condemning an attack against a United Nations monitoring team near the Nigeria-Cameroon border that resulted in the death of five persons, the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel region, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, called on both countries to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to preliminary reports, at around 14:00 hours, yesterday, an unknown armed group attacked a UN Technical Monitoring Team, killing five individuals – a UN independent contractor, three Nigerians nationals and one Cameroonian national – and injuring several others.
The team was conducting a field mission in the vicinity of Hosere Jongbi, near Kontcha, Cameroon, about 700 kilometres north of the capital Yaoundé, as part of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission mandate.
In a news release issued by the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Chambas reiterated the vital role of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission in accomplishing the border demarcation, in compliance with a judgment of the International Court of Justice, and in contributing to stability and security in the region.
He also offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
The Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission was established by the UN Secretary-General, at the request of Presidents of Cameroon and Nigeria, in 2002, to settle border issues between the two West African neighbours.
The Mixed Commission’s mandate includes demarcation of the land boundary and delimitation of the maritime boundary between the two countries; withdrawal of troops and transfer of authority in the Lake Chad area, along the land boundary and in the Bakassi Peninsula; addressing the situation of populations affected by the demarcation activities; and development of recommendations on confidence-building measures aiming at promoting peaceful cross-border cooperation.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Nigeria has failed to stamp out Boko Haram in Buhari’s first year in power - Homeland Security Newswire

President Muhammadu Buhari
When Muhammadu Buhari — a former general and, for a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s, the military ruler of Ngeria — was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May 2015, he promised to “stamp out” Boko Haram within twelve months. Security analysts note that despite some progress, he has failed to do so. Critics of Buhari say that while Boko Haram has been pushed back and has lost large swaths of territory it used to control, Buhari’s heavy-handed approach to unrest or dissent of any kind in Nigeria has created more problems.

When Muhammadu Buhari — a former general and, for a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s, the military ruler of Nigeria — was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May 2015, he promised to “stamp out” Boko Haram within twelve months.

Security analysts note that despite some progress, he has failed to do so.
Critics of Buhari say that while Boko Haram has been pushed back and has lost large swaths of territory it used to control, Buhari’s heavy-handed approach to unrest or dissent of any kind in Nigeria has created more problems.

NAIJ reports that earlier this month, at a summit in Abuja which included representatives from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger. France, the United States, Britain, and the EU, Buhari admitted that the pledge he made a year ago was more difficult to fulfill than he had thought.
Most of the progress in the fight against Boko Haram was the result of the intervention of Nigeria’s neighbors – especially Chad and Niger – whose armies and air forces have proved much more effective and competent in the campaign against Boko Haram. In January 2015 these neighbors of Nigeria gave the then-president Goodluck Jonathan an ultimatum: Boko Haram was spreading its terrorism to neighboring countries, and these neighbors were going to pursue the Islamist militants into Nigeria with or without the approval of the Nigerian government. Faced with a tough election campaign against Buhari – an election he would lose – Jonathan agreed for the armies of Nigeria’s neighbors to fight Boko haram on Nigerian soil, and Boko Haram has been in retreat ever since.
The United States and Britain have each sent about 300 troops to Nigeria and the neighboring countries in a training and advisory capacity, but at the summit, Buhari said that to defeat Boko Haram, an expanded international effort was required.
“I believe Buhari is acknowledging … that it is not easy for the military to just go out there and eliminate Boko Haram,” Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies told al-Jazeera. “The rural areas have always been neglected when it comes to security and that has always been the problem – the ungoverned places.”

Since Buhari has taken office, the Nigerian army have evicted  Boko Haram from territory which was under the Islamists’ control, and the number and frequency of terrorist attacks has fallen significantly.
Analysts note, though, that the 276 Chibok schoolgirl hostages abducted in 2014 have not yet been rescued, and that faced by more determined military pressure, Boko Haram is resorting to wider use of suicide bombings, carried out by women and children, and increased attrition, including more hostage-taking.

The 2015 Global Terrorism Index, a survey by the New York-based Institute for Economics and Peace, Boko Haram remains the most deadly terrorist group in the world.
Security analysts note that Boko Haram, once a local hardline Islamist movement, is transforming into a regional jihadist threat. The continuing humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad basin allow Boko Haram’s Islamist message to resonate – ad the experts say that Buhari should adopt a more constructive approach, beyond crude military suppression tactics, to fighting the Islamist insurgency.

In a statement linked to the Abuja summit, the UN Security Council called on regional states to pursue “a comprehensive strategy to address the governance, security, development, socio-economic and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis.”

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said Boko Haram was “seemingly on a back foot, but it is unlikely to be eliminated in a decisive battle.” Regional powers should “move beyond military cooperation and design a more holistic local and regional response.”
The ICG said that Nigeria and its allies should more effectively exploit information gathered from captured fighters, abductees, defectors, and civilians in newly recaptured areas.
Nnamdi Obasi, the ICG’s senior analyst for Nigeria, warned that Buhari’s tough approach was having a negative knock-on effect in other Nigerian trouble spots. He pointed to the south-east, where Igbo secessionist groups are demanding the restoration of the republic of Biafra. Igbo separatists declared their independence from Nigeria in the early 1970 and the creation of an Igbo-majority Biafra, but the Nigerian military crushed the Igbo, killing about 1.5 million civilians.

The IGC’s Obasi notes that Nigeria’s Middle Belt has seen increasing levels of violence between local communities, while the 2009 peace deal that ended the insurgency in the oil-rich Niger Delta is coming apart. Emerging militant groups in Nigeria include the Niger Delta Avengers and the Egbesu Mightier Fraternity.

Peaceful demonstrations had been met with harsh punitive measures and arbitrary arrests.
“Both groups have sent the government their lists of demands, mostly for local control of oil revenues, threatening even more crippling attacks if they are ignored. The government’s response – deploying more military assets and threatening an unmitigated crackdown – portends an escalation of the violence,” Obasi said.

Culled from http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20160602-nigeria-has-failed-to-stamp-out-boko-haram-in-buhari-s-first-year-in-power

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Echo from Imperial College: Remove the licensing obstacle for Nigeria to enjoy stable power supply- OlawepoG

Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim
For Nigeria to enjoy a stable power supply, it must dismantle the delay in licensing of Independent Power Projects (IPPs( and the signing of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) through an executive guideline for the industry that defines Standard Operating Procedures for agencies and institutions.

According to ‎Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, who spoke at the annual lecture of Nigerian Student Society, Imperial College, London, processing license applications and signing of PPA should not take more than 90-120 days, revealing that "currently it takes 2-3 years when in fact, a complete power plant could be delivered between 18 -24 months.‎"

Speaking on the topic: Nigeria: facilitating resilient and sustainable infrastructural development, he urged the Federal Government to "make Sovereign Guarantee available to all PPAs that the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) concludes and with the requisite 90-120 days LC to ensure bankability of such agreements."

Olawepo asserts that when distribution companies and eligible customers are licensed, "they should be able to sign PPA with the Generating Companies (GENCOs) and IPPs for the supply of Power without the undue meddlesomeness of the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC). This is the provision of the Electricity Sector Reform Act, and this is what it should be."

He stressed the need for more attention to be paid to sanctioning operators particularly in the distribution sector, especially those who have not delivered on their terms of purchase of their network as the entire value chain depends on effectiveness at this level.

‎Emphasising the importance of IPP producers In the sector, he, however, described Nigeria as an important Nation not only on account of her oil wealth but the significance of the energy of her people, "whose creativity and resilient spirit of enterprise continues to assure her progress even in the face of seemingly hopeless situations."

His words: ‎"It is due to the hard-work and industry of the ordinary Nigerians- the nation’s greatest asset, that Nigeria attained a GDP rebased at $510 billion in 2013 exceeding that of South Africa to become the biggest African economy even in the face of her parlous infrastructure.

"The feat is the result of the toiling of small-scale   entrepreneurs, who continue to create value without adequate electricity, cottage food processors, without affordable financing, farmers without the scantest of state support; artisans, bold and imaginative businessmen and women, dynamic financial managers, young innovators creative artisans and hardworking professionals.

"Remarkably, Price Water Cooper predicts that the country’s economy will probably grow to be the 9th largest economy in the world by 2050. The basis for this has already been laid over the past ten years with the country recording 6-7% annual growth consistently. In 2015, even with the collapse in oil price - the country’s major export - the economy still managed to grow at 2.8% compared to 1.2% of South Africa; 1.5% in the Euro Zone;  -2.6% in Brazil and 2.0 % in the US last quarter. These occurred despite more than fifty per cent collapse in oil revenue and slowdown in government business due to the inauguration of a new government.


"Growth in the Nigeria Economy is expected to be sustained as the economy has acquired a resilience beyond oil and natural resource exploitation that accounts for only 14% of GDP as long as the political and security situation remains stable.

"Nigeria has also recorded a robust expansion of her middle class, which Standard Bank reported has grown by six-folds between the year 2000 and 2010.

"The Nigerian diaspora community is an integral part of the Nigeria growth story. In 2013, foreign remittances to Nigeria was a record $21billion USD.  This forms part of the incredible contributions of Nigerians abroad, innovators, small business operators and ordinary folks eking out a living for themselves in the hard-way, - picking up tough jobs that a lot of people in their host communities ignore.

"Brilliant people of Nigerian decent stand up daily to be counted as part of the positive pages of the rising Nigerian story. The Imafidon twins Paula and Peter broke the world mathematic record passing the Cambridge Advanced Level Math at age 8, the youngest ever to do so. Chinedu Echeruo, the founder of Hopstop.com purchased by Apple at a price of $1billion USD, is blazing the trail in the ICT world.

"Dr Victor Olalusi who scored 5.0 CGPA at the Faculty of Clinical Sciences at Russian National Medical University in 2013, arguably the first in the world to do so are among a growing list of sterling performers.

"Back home in 2012, four Nigerian teenage girls namely Duro Aina, Akindele Adeola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola figured a way to generate electricity from urine to power a generator for six hours.

"Recently, 24-year-old Oluwatobi Olasunkanmi won the William Charnley Prize for the best First Class in Law at the University of Cambridge. Right here in this hall we have Mervin Azeta, a female Chemical Engineer who has just completed her Master’s degree here at Imperial with a distinction, having achieved a first class honour in her first degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria, and I know there are similar more stories of great achievers in this gathering today.

"This is the Nigerian spirit that turns out outstanding achievers from the harshest imaginable environment," he said, expressing optimism that ‎"in the next ten years if her hardworking people can enjoy the infrastructure support that their peers in comparable middle-income countries take for granted. I suspect this is one of the reasons why the ICNS has invited us to explore the topic.

"On Transportation infrastructure, while road transport remains widely in use with the countries road network expanding from 6000 km at independence to 197,000km in 2012 only about 18% of the roads are paved. The roads and bridges are in various states of disrepair; air and water transportation are below acceptable standards and our ports and railways services are in a near state of complete abandon.

He lamented the non-completion of any new greenfield port over the last four decades despite a rapidly expanding economy, quoting AFDP 2013 study that revealed that "of all the freight that arrived Nigerian port, only 0.2% throughput traveled by rail."

He continued: "The oil refineries are in an incredibly bad shape. Nigeria, the 5th largest producer of oil, has turned into a net importer of petroleum products due to the shameful state of gas and pipeline infrastructure. Hospitals and Educational facilities are in a state of decay crippled by the manacles of poor maintenance and underdevelopment.

"The reasons for the infrastructure decay are not far-fetched. They include; lack of adequate investment from both the public and the private sector, lack of adequate maintenance programme and capacity building issues.

"In order to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure for the purpose of supporting the desired economic growth target and socioeconomic development objectives, the AFDP forecasts Nigeria requires $350 billion USD CAPEX investment over a period of nine years. It also estimates that $100billion USD is required over the same period as OPEX investment.

‎As a way out, he said that once policy makers and implementers summon the will to take immediately far-reaching actions that are focused and sustained along the following lines, achievements will come in.

He advocated the reordering of government expenditure to allow for commitment of at least fifty per cent of government revenue to Capital Expenditure in the 2016 budget and with the aim of increasing to sixty per cent and seventy per cent in 2017 and 2018 budget cycle respectively.

"The Federal Government should embark on Contractor financed infrastructure projects based on internationally benchmarked pricing; in the construction of rail tracks, the supply of locomotives and coaches, and other critical infrastructure. Such selected projects must have the necessary projected cash –flow to pay back to qualify for approval.

"There should be an immediate bid process for the concession of two sites for the construction of two greenfield ports in areas with the natural port depths.

Immediate elimination of bureaucratic curtains, red tapes and elimination of duplication of regulatory approvals for private sector direct investment in infrastructural development as now common in the power sector. This is to be achieved by the instrumentality of a sectorial guideline that institutes a Standard Operating Procedure detailing the timeline for processing applications with a high-level audit system of the processes.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra share near identical ideologies: Report | Homeland Security News Wire

A just-published report analyzes a cross-section of 114 propaganda sources over two years from the three main Salafi-jihadi groups: ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The three groups share near identical ideologies, challenging the concept that “ISIS is more extreme than al-Qaeda.” Built upon distorted Islamic religious principles, the propaganda produces single-minded focus on violent jihad. The report finds explicit references to these principles throughout the propaganda:

A just-published report, Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda, analyzes a cross-section of 114 propaganda sources over two years from the three main Salafi-jihadi groups: ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which sponsored the report, notes that the three groups share near identical ideologies, challenging the concept that “ISIS is more extreme than al-Qaeda.” Built upon distorted Islamic religious principles, the propaganda produces single-minded focus on violent jihad. The report finds explicit references to these principles throughout the propaganda:
    Ideological values form the moral basis of the groups’ actions and are present in 80 percent of all the propaganda sources. These include Islamic creedal values in 62 percent, the values of honor and solidarity with Muslim communities in 68 percent, and explicit references to the end of days in 42 percent.
    Justifications from the Quran, Hadith or from scholarship appear in 87 percent of the propaganda.

Ed Husain, author of The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw Inside, and Why I Left (2009) and Senior Adviser at the Center on Religion & Geopolitics said:
An initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the Center on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG) presents informed analysis on the interaction of religion and conflict globally, offering policy responses to meet the scale of the challenge through reports, media commentary, events and policy briefings.

This initiative started as a Web resource called Religion & Geopolitics launched in June 2014. In the last fifteen months it has grown and developed and to recognize this change a more suitable name and description is the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG).
We are losing the battle of ideas and urgently need to understand and defeat this global ideology. ISIS, al-Qaeda and others kill in the name of religion. They call for a caliphate of slavery, death and destruction. They justify their evil by abusively citing scripture and creating religious certainty in the minds of angry, eager and obedient recruits.

For too long we have shied away from this truth. It is by rallying the best of religion that we defeat the worst of it. It is the language of religion that will uproot this violent ideology. Civil society, governments, Muslim scholars, technology firms and others all have a part to play.’
World leaders have cited ideology as a key challenge. Speaking about how we defeat ISIS, President Barack Obama said last week “This is a long-term campaign — not only against this particular network, but against its ideology… We have to prevent it from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others to violence in the first place. And this means defeating their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision.”

Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, praised the report: “This is the single best work I have read on the ideological foundations and theoretical underpinnings of the ongoing wave of jihadi violence. Accordingly, it makes a valuable contribution both to the literature on terrorism and radicalization as well as to the measures and efforts needed to most effectively counter the appeal of the jihadi message.”

— Read more in Emman El-Badawy et al., Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda (Tony Blair Faith Foundation, October 2015)

Monday, 28 September 2015

U.K. to deploy troops in Somalia, South Sudan to foster “less terrorism and less migration” - Homeland Security NewsWire

British prime minister David Cameron has said that hundreds of British troops will be deployed to Somalia and South Sudan to train African peacekeeping forces in order to foster “less terrorism and less migration.” Over the years the United Kingdom has contributed to many peacekeeping missions, but now its role is largely limited to providing about 280 troops participating in the current mission in Cyprus. The United Kingdom has also given about £260 million in aid to South Sudan since the start of the civil war in December 2013.

British prime minister David Cameron has said that hundreds of British troops will be deployed to Somalia and South Sudan to train African peacekeeping forces in order to foster “less terrorism and less migration.”
Cameron said he was offering forces to United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) peace keeping missions to help bring conflicts in the two countries under control, especially as these conflicts are facilitating the rise of terrorist groups in Somalia and triggering mass migration from South Sudan, where more than two million people have been driven from their homes as a result of bloody skirmishes between the government and rebels.

Time reports that about seventy U.K. soldiers and officers will be sent to Somalia, where AU peacekeeping units have been deployed to tackle the Islamist group al-Shabaab. They British soldiers will not be involved in combat operations, instead focusing on training AU forces in logistics, engineering, and medical aid.

More troops — about 250 to 300 — are being sent to South Sudan to carry out specific tasks such as engineering advice and combat training.
Cameron will unveil the British troop offer at a session on UN peacekeeping on Monday, hosted by the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the president, Barack Obama, with dozens of other member states expected to make contributions.

Speaking before his arrival in New York, Cameron said: “We think Britain has a particular role in training and logistics and expertise and standards, so we want to step up what we are doing. But let me stress, we all want to see all the right force-protection arrangements in place but we should be playing a part in this.
“What happens in Somalia, if it’s a good outcome, it’s good for Britain, it means less terrorism, less migration, less piracy; ditto South Sudan.”

He said it was “absolutely vital that the international community works together to shore up stability in Africa.”
Over the years the United Kingdom has contributed to many peacekeeping missions, but now its role is largely limited to providing about 280 troops participating in the current mission in Cyprus.
The United Kingdom has also given about £260 million in aid to South Sudan since the start of the civil war in December 2013.


Pressure has recently been growing on the British government to contribute more in the way of boots on the ground to strengthen the UN’s peacekeeping aims.

Culled from Homeland Security NewsWire

Sunday, 19 July 2015

I Earned 5,000 Naira To Burn School, Says Teenage Boko Haram Recruit/ Channels TV

I Earned 5,000 Naira To Burn School, Says Teenage Boko Haram Recruit
Channels Television.
Updated July 18, 2015
Isa-Gusau“One of the Boko Haram suspects presented to Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, said he was given 5,000 Naira to burn our school,” an official of the Borno State government told Channels Television on Saturday.

The Special Assistant to the Borno State Government on Communication, Mr Isa Gusau, said that the nine-year old recruit made the confession in 2014 after some suspected terrorists were presented over to the Borno State government by the military.

Giving an account of what transpired when the suspects were presented to the Governor, he said: “The Governor asked one of them how come he was recruited into the Boko Haram. He was just nine years old.

“He said he was given 5,000 Naira to spy on the soldiers while another said he was given 5,000 Naira to burn our schools.

“There was another lady who was being paid 10,000 Naira to smuggle arms,” Mr Gusau.

On the military effort to end the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists, he said that the Governor of Borno State had always suggested the deployment of three approaches – military deployment, deployment of economic stimulation package and political solution.

“People are talking from the point of sentiments. We are not looking at the reality on ground.

“We need to ask ourselves, why the Boko Haram has kept growing despite the counter-terrorism operations?

Mr Gusau further explained that it had become difficult for persons that had been recruited into the Boko Haram to reintegrate into their communities.

“When they are recruited, the leaders of the group take them to their communities to attack them and people in the community will see them as members of the Boko Haram and will never allow them back, even when they want to come back.

“The government must create a window for those who were forcefully conscripted into the Boko Haram to get out,” he stressed.



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Cyberjacking may be the new threat to air travel | Homeland Security News Wire

Photo credit: city.ac.uk
We accept lengthy queues in airport security as a small price to pay for a couple of weeks in the sun. Could the latest threat to air travel, however, be something that cannot be picked up by metal detectors and X-ray machines? Is cyberjacking — hacking into a plane’s computer systems — a possibility? Researchers warn that it is possible. There is no need to cancel that holiday just yet, however.


When Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished en route to Beijing in March 2014, the horror and mystery of the story captivated the public. And as with any mystery, the lack of a definitive answer left a void for speculation and conspiracy theories. Was the aircraft shot down? Was it hijacked and flown to an unknown location? Was the plane’s computer system somehow hacked allowing it to be controlled remotely?


A City release reports that it was this latter theory that most interested David Stupples of City University of London’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Stupples is an expert in networked electronic systems and, prior to becoming an academic, spent many years developing military surveillance systems for the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. He also designed secure communications for surveillance satellites and air defense systems for the Hughes Aircraft Corporation.


The MH370 mystery got him thinking: was it possible to “cyberjack” a civilian aircraft? If so, are we at the beginning of a new and terrifying era for commercial air travel?

To answer these questions, it is useful to look at how aircraft have evolved. In the 1970s the U.S government developed the F-117 fighter plane, the first designed around stealth technology and therefore undetectable by radar. Unfortunately, the design made the aircraft aerodynamically unstable: the only way it could be flown was if it had a computer on board


The computer flies the plane

By the 1990s, Airbus had introduced computers on commercial aircraft and today, with the introduction of the firm’s 318, 319, and 320 series, its planes are now almost totally computer controlled. As Stupples says: “The pilot flies the computer and the computer flies the plane.”

Today’s modern aircraft have numerous systems, including those for flight controls, automatic pilot, navigation, communication, engine management and even passenger entertainment. If these systems can be accessed by anyone with malevolent intentions, the consequences could be disastrous.

In recent years there have been numerous cyberjacking scare stories. In 2008, for example, the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) reported that the computer network in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger compartment was connected to the aircraft’s control, navigation and communication systems. This grave security concern was subsequently resolved by Boeing.

In April this year, a security researcher was prevented from boarding a United Airlines flight after tweeting that he could hack the plane’s systems. So is it possible to cyberjack a modern civilian aircraft? Stupples says yes — but there is a very large “but.”


A tough nut to crack


“Cyberjacking by a passenger is going to be exceedingly difficult,” he says. “He can’t come through the Wi-Fi system, that’s not possible. He could perhaps interfere with the navigation but the aircraft would warn you. All the systems are totally integrated. How then could he take control of an aircraft? The only way is to get malware on board.”

Malware is software designed to cause harm to a computer system, for example to disrupt it or steal sensitive information. Most of us have received suspicious-looking emails asking us to open attached files: these are often malware viruses ready to infect our PCs.

“One way to get malware on board would be for the software developers to put it on when they develop the software,” he adds. Of course, this means having a rogue employee working for the software company. “For someone to develop the malware who is outside the aviation industry, that is again a difficult task because the systems are all totally integrated. The other way is to load the malware by accessing the aircraft’s on-board electronics bay. This is possible but access controls are very sophisticated.”


Stupples and his colleagues recently carried out research into the most likely ways that a system can become infected with malware. They calculated that the biggest threat came from a rogue or coerced employee, backed by serious organized crime or even a state.

So what can companies do to protect themselves? Can a system ever be totally safe? Stupples explains: “We’ve started working with Airbus and Cranfield University and what we’re doing is not looking at how we can protect a system from a cyberattack — because I think a great many of the controls are already in place and it’s debatable how much more secure we can get — but looking at cybersafety, which is something quite different. “If there’s malware on the system — and we’re talking about any system, whether it’s aircraft, trains or nuclear power stations — the system needs to recognize it’s behaving in an irrational manner and then revert to a safe state.”

Stupples gives the recent example of the Germanwings air tragedy, in which the co-pilot appeared deliberately to crash the plane. “The aircraft started to dive into a controlled but deep descent in an area with no landing facilities,” he says. “The system [if a proposed failsafe was in place] would recognize this is an unsafe situation and the aircraft would then take itself to a stable state. We’re looking at whether it’s possible to take any system affected by malware to a safe state.” It’s still early days for this research. But in such an increasingly connected world, a security system that detects abnormalities would be highly valued, particularly when the consequences of malware could be catastrophic.


The all-seeing radar


Another threat to the aviation industry comes from drones. Widely available for just a few hundred pounds, remote-controlled aircraft have become a popular gadget. Although relatively small, when willingly or accidentally misused in public spaces they can potentially cause harm.


More ominously, they can be armed with cameras, transmitters or even explosives and flown into controlled areas unnoticed. They could be used by terrorists for reconnaissance or flown into a descending passenger plane. There is also concern they may interfere with aircraft navigation or train controls.


Due to their size, drones often cannot be seen by conventional scanning radar, so for Stupples’ latest research he’s working with Cambridge-based company Aveillant to develop a new kind of radar. This collaboration has led to what Aveillant calls “the world’s first 3D holographic radar system.” What makes this so unique is that it’s able to “look” in all directions at once, rather than be on target once every few seconds. As a result it can pick up the tiny drones.


While this advancement may be good news for the likes of Airbus, Stupples says that it could have ramifications for the world’s most expensive plane: the multibillion-dollar F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter. Stupples says. “I believe this new radar will be able to see it, which makes you question whether [the F-35 is] the correct route to go down. Not only me but a lot of other people in the radar world take the view that this is not money well spent.”

The U.S. and U.K. governments, who have nailed their colors to the mast of the F-35, would probably beg to differ. Regardless, Stupples’ research raises an important issue. Undoubtedly, we are living in a world where increasing digitization and interconnectivity are bringing us many advantages. With those benefits, however, come new risks. The research done by Stupples and others makes it easier to understand those risks better and introduce measures that will protect us all.


Culled from Homeland Security NewsWire


Monday, 13 July 2015

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Bokoharam will not negotiate: PMB Should Prepare to Fight.

President Muhamadu Buhari of Nigeria
There were three major bomb blasts in Nigeria (Jos, Kano and Zaria)  in the last forty eight hours with fatalities going to about one hundred people. I still insist that the president administration under PMB needs to do more to study Bokoharam to know his government cannot just persuade BH members to abandon their so call bloody jihadist struggle. These people are hardliners, motivated by ideology in pursuit of political power under the cover of religion.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan would have deter BH to some extent but it took him for long before he realized the fact that BH are enemy of Nigeria but not his own personal political adversaries as insinuated during the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja.

We have to learn from mistakes of the past and understand the fact that BH will never negotiate, dialogue or back down. Hence, President Buhari must be ready to fight and defeat the organization just like Al-Quada was defeated by the American. In fact, his government should prepare to capture or kill Shekau and his commanders.

Of course, it will take another 20-years of relentless struggle to eventually curtail terrorist organization in Nigeria. Some of the reasons are: lack of human capability; Nigerian security agencies of today are more of political organizations; the recruitment and promotion of personnel are political. (It has always been based on who you know, federal characters at the expense of competency); the political leadership are playing politics and lack deep knowledge on how to combat terror; lack of education, inconsistency in policy and lack of transparency.

Meanwhile, I know some scam must have been going underground, thinking they could talk to Bokoharam elements to see why they should support Hausa/Fulani led President. One of the present APC Senators, Mallam Shehu Sani once advocated total amnesty for BH members as an option.  
They must have seen the answer with almost one thousand people killed within 39-days into this present APC led administration. Here we continue the circle of another President who is fast becoming another “MOURNER IN CHIEF.”

While I still strongly believe in PMB capability to provide needed leadership for Nigeria at this point in time, however, the last few weeks has been uninspiring.
I was expecting PMB to have immediately release his National Security Strategy on how to combat Bokoharam and tackle insecurity in Nigeria in the first week of his leadership. Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the Federal Government

Moreover, most people expect our C-in-C to have done his evaluation studies before May 29, 2015 swearing –in in order to move into action with the appointment of his NSA and National security team. We would have love to see the current government, sustaining the ongoing military intervention in the North East while the probe goes underneath.

Let us take example from the United States of America. President Barack Obama inherited a lot mess from his predecessor, including debt of unimaginable proportion. America was fighting war in Afghanistan, Iraq and also faced economic war back home as 2008.

However, President Obama did not spend his precious time talking about the mess he met on the ground; he was not talking too much about probe; rather, he focused on his agenda as enshrined in his campaign slogan “CHANGE.”
Today, the United States of America is standing tall in the world as largest economy, retaining her political and military power. If Obama can do it, Buhari must be able to do it.

Of course, we want the PMB and his handlers to know that the War on Terror remains a generational struggle, and our entire Nation must be engaged and prepared to participate in this effort.
We know from history that deterrence can fail; and we know from experience that some enemies cannot be deterred.
Therefore, we must know that Intelligence, and how we use it, is our first line of defense against terrorists and the threat posed by hostile element like BH.
How come nobody knows that BH will attack Jos, Kano and Zaria simultaneously like they just did? Do we even have any clue of what they will do and where they will attack next?

Therefore, we must, as a matter of urgency transform our intelligence capabilities and build new ones to keep pace with the nature of these threats.
The first thing the PMB administration must do is to insulate our intelligence personnel and security agencies from politics. There must be ethics in how they carry out their duties.
Hence, Intelligence must be appropriately integrated with our defense and law enforcement systems
We must strengthen intelligence warning and analysis to provide integrated threat assessments for national security.

Furthermore, Terrorism should be our policy priority. It is important to quickly enhance our counterterrorism policy with the use of personnel and resources to preempt, disrupt, or destroy the capabilities of terrorists and their support networks.

Terrorists will always strike, it is not a surprise but how our leaders react is of major concern to everybody and the international community.
My sympathy goes to those Nigerians who have lost their love one to the heinous terrorist attacks going on daily under the nose of our leaders without prepared responses.


Oludare Ogunlana is a Counterterrorism Analyst and write from Baltimore

Friday, 12 June 2015

Boko Haram And the Global Terror Network By Nuhu Ribadu

Nuhu Ribadu
The present anti-modernity version of extremism we are witnessing in the Northern part of Nigeria started when just two Nigerians; a certain Mohammed Ali from Borno State and Abu Umar from Kano met a Syrian preacher, Abu albasir al Dardusi in Yemen.

When Boko Haram’s murderous campaign got to a head in Nigeria, and the media is everyday awash with, largely, uninformed commentaries, I kept mum. I refrained from saying anything. It was the period of confusion and blame game. The accusing fingers were (still, are) being pointed across divides and everyone was coming up with conspiracies that suits the person’s idiosyncrasies and alliances. Saying anything at the time would earn one a label; a bigot or a traitor. It was a good thing for the terrorists. Confusion usually afflicts people faced with new incomprehensible thing such as terrorism, in the scale of Boko Haram. It is the confusion and the buck passing that the terrorists, in turn, feed on to grow and defy measures. It is a good thing that the theories are now piping down, and the theorists on sabbatical.

Background

Boko Haram, like many trending isms, is a product of globalisation. It is a global phenomenon that borrows on many backgrounds and climates. The idea of militant Islamism, has ideological roots in the Middle East but was nurtured most ironically in the mosques of London by preachers from the Middle East who moved to the United Kingdom in the 1980s and the 1990s. It is in UK that many would be terrorists, hot-headed young men, imbibed the ideology whose complete circle ends with full indoctrination in Yemen and elsewhere. There is no pointer to the global nature of what is presently the world’s highest security risk than this. The growth of Nigeria’s Boko Haram followed almost similar pattern.

The present anti-modernity version of extremism we are witnessing in the Northern part of Nigeria started when just two Nigerians; a certain Mohammed Ali from Borno State and Abu Umar from Kano met a Syrian preacher, Abu albasir al Dardusi in Yemen. It was this preacher who indoctrinated them in the line of rejecting western education and all symbols of modern governance, based on corrupt interpretation of a single hadith. Al Dardusi was one of the preachers who settled in the UK. 

When the duo of Ali and Umar returned to Nigeria they started converting people especially young Sunni preachers who already had extreme interpretation of Islam. Two smart and intelligent local preachers, a certain Bello Doma and Mohammed Yusuf were among their early converts. By his charisma, education and followership strength, Yusuf quickly got frontline prominence within the circle and, subsequently, emerged the leader of the group.  From 2001 onward the group passed evolutional stages in nomenclature, structure and base. Disagreements on methodologies and other egoistic reasons also lead to formation of factions within the larger group which, however, reunited at a later time when Ali was killed and Abu Umar captured. Most of the known figures of the movement were variously arrested and jailed. But ironically the consensus on jihad and decision to begin offensive was reached while some of the ring leaders were in custody in one of Nigeria’s major prisons.

Because many of the arrowheads were influential clerics in their own rights, recruitment was initially through persuasive preaching and sermons, as well as one on one brainwashing encounters. Some of the leaders would go on itinerant preaching tours to towns and villages recruiting largely frustrated young men disenchanted about life. At the initial stage, the groups survived on contributions from members some of whom were traders or engaged in menial jobs. In fact, many of them sold off their assets to contribute money towards keeping the movement alive. However, when the violent campaign commenced, and to maintain growing number of recruits, the group took to kidnapping for ransom, bank raid and armed robbery. The money was also used in inducing recruits and families of deceased members. 

Of course, the level of illiteracy and endemic poverty among the populace of Northern Nigeria provided a fertile ground for Boko Haram to quickly expand. This, as we shall come to see, also played a role in fuelling the confusion and conspiracy theories that come with the insurgency.

Some of the early fatalities from Boko Haram operations were some of their own teachers in the past who voiced disagreement with the weird theology of the terrorist group. They deliberately used terror to intimidate all other preachers and dissenting voices. With this tool of terror, opposition to their own ideological position from theological standpoint became difficult as scholars became afraid of the fate that befell some of their colleagues. On the other hand, the group was consolidating its own ideological incursion through production and distribution of sermons and propaganda materials in print and electronic. It was also at the same time reaching out to similar groups in Africa and the Middle East, including al-Shabab. This culminated in the allegiance paid to Isis which was coordinated through the effort of one Abu Basir al-Barnawi, a Boko Haram member from Nigeria.

The Response

As I pointed earlier, because Boko Haram was a new phenomenon, it created a lot of confusion both in security and government circles as well as among the citizenry. Understanding the motif and workings of it became a problem. Many took advantage of it including politicians to throw blames at each other. In fact, the insurrection became a potent mirror of Nigeria’s ethnic tensions as conspiracies were tailored along ethno-religious lines. Coincidentally, the Boko Haram’s declaration of jihad came at the time when a Muslim Northerner died in office and a Christian Southerner became the president. At various points, the Northern Nigeria was blamed for creating the Boko Haram to make the country “ungovernable” for a president who was not from there. Some had a theory that says it was the government that was supporting the insurgents in order to diminish the numerical strength and, ultimately, political influence of the northern part. The Muslims contended that it was the work of the Christians. The Christians blamed Muslims for it. Even within the Muslim community there were accusations among sects. The bucks keep passing.

The military operation is not spared from these disjointed criticism which confounded the problems of an institution already bedevilled by corruption and incompetent leadership. The mutual suspicion created by the Boko Haram was extended to the military with attention given to tribes and religions of officers and men in ascribing motives to what the military has done, or failed to do. While Boko Haram would wipe out an entire village or stop commuter bus and execute all occupants, the harshest criticism was spared for the military on any slight operational lapse or excesses. International organisations, such as the Human Rights Watch and, more recently, Amnesty International also got entangled in the wave of the anti-military/government conspiracy theories which substantially affected their reports. This demoralised the army and created international anathema for the military. However, this is not to discount the fact that the military’s blunders and panic in facing a new challenge also played role in alienating it from the civilian population and gave credence to most of the allegations.

International response followed the pattern of the local reaction largely in line with the narrative in the press and the undue, even unguarded, utterances by some otherwise respectable elders. The West, especially the United State, was looking for reason to escape engaging in military operations abroad. Thus, it was convenient for the international community to take the position not to help Nigeria, which has always been a hard sale for international support in the first place. The leadership then also failed to convince the world of its competence and seriousness to fight the war. The West, particularly the United States was looking for excuses and they got one in the lack of consensus among Nigerians. These distractions and lack of support make Nigeria lag behind while the terrorists became emboldened and they began annexing territories, with alarming cruelty against defenceless victims.

Global Action to end Boko Haram

Boko Haram as part of the global terror network, has always been loosely connected to al-Shabab, Alqaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) and Isis. Most of their weapons came from Libya and Boko Haram fighters have fought alongside Mujao in Mali. Therefore, tackling a group like Boko Haram requires global action. It cannot be treated in isolation of say, Alshsabab or Isis. Several countries that passed through insurgency, at one time or the other, have to be supported by the world in containing the insurrection. Countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Afghanistan and Somalia are still battling with their own versions of Boko Haram. The global support for them has also being overwhelming, helping in reversing the tide in most cases, as seen in Mali more recently.

Nigeria, on the other hand, got no support as it was left alone to face the music. The political pressure on the government and the pressure on the military to deliver necessitated evolution of other measures including the need to get weapons by all means as well as involve civilian vigilantes. These measures helped greatly in liberating captured territories, with the support of neighbours, especially Chad – at a heavy financial cost to Nigeria.  

In the last two months, the Nigerian military has gotten back on track with better equipment and other logistical support, leading to major successes of flushing out the insurgents from most of the towns and villages they hitherto occupied. What is needed now is consolidation on the victories and further push out the terrorists from every inch of Nigeria’s land. The dislodging of the terrorists from their bases, as being witnessed currently, comes with the challenge of suicide bombings and drive-by attacks – the same pattern noticed in many other countries. This may continue for a while until the training bases and recruitment opportunities are denied of the terrorists. To achieve the latter target, there is the need to come up with strong community participation strategy. Religious leaders and opinion moulders need to be brought on board for the purpose of ideological warfare, as a long term strategy.

Since we now have a new government with a leader who is from the Muslim North, largely affected by the insurgency, there are new windows. The world should, for once, come together and help Nigeria in all aspects necessary to tackle this problem. We still need the weapons and the know-how to route the terrorists from their remaining enclaves and to begin de-radicalisation and reconstruction programmes in earnest. The government needs to help urgently in restoring the lives of the affected victims, in terms of economic and social wellbeing. As the terrorists resort to suicide attacks, the security strategy also has to shift significantly to intelligence-based operations.

For Nigerians, it is imperative to be united as one nation and fight a common enemy. And in fighting the enemy that is Boko Haram, Nigerians have to realise that no one can do it for them other than the security forces. We cannot afford to vilify our military, as any condemnation of the fighting forces demoralises the military and empowers the terrorists. We have to collectively fight to stop Boko Haram. If we fail to end Boko Haram we are going to be left with a failed, disintegrated state.

Nigeria, like all nations faced with similar challenge needs help. Terrorism is a fight beyond borders, the response has to be beyond the shores of Nigeria. And your true friend, as the saying goes, is the one who is there at your hour of need.  I therefore anticipate something positive to come out of the G7 Summit that the Nigerian president is invited to attend. This should be the turning point.

*A talk on “Fight against Religious Extremism: What Role for Diplomacy?” given at Global Diplomacy Lab hosted by German Foreign Ministry in Istanbul, Turkey.

Friday, 24 April 2015

11th IAFIE Conference: Preparing the Next generation of Intelligence Analysts



IAFIE Conference, El-Paso, Texas in 2013
Join the West African team to the 11th Annual IAFIE Conference schedule for June 22 -25, 2015 at Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia  22207


Theme:  Preparing the Next Generation of Intelligence Analysts in a Changing World


Intelligence educators from around the world we come together once again to share best practices and theory.


IAFIE is the leading international organization for Intelligence Education. The mission of the Association is to advance research, knowledge and professional development in intelligence education


The forum is open to Security and Intelligence practitioners, academics and students.

Please contact me on abovejordan@gmail.com for further query about your participation.



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