Tuesday 1 May 2012

West Africa Borders are Porous; We must Prepare and Prevent Terrorism in Our Domain. - Ghanaian IGP.

The Ghanaian Inspector General of Police; Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye gave a wake-up call to Ghanaians and the entire Africans in a speech delivered by his representative; Mr. John Kudalor (Director General of Operations/Commissioner of Police Ghana) at the 2nd Symposium on Combating Terrorism in Africa organized by the Global Alternative Agenda at Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Training Centre, Accra, Ghana on 31 March 2012

Below is the excerpt:

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Resource Persons,
Our Friends from the Media,
Distinguished invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

CP John Kudalor, DG Operations, Ghana Police Services
I must begin by expressing delight and appreciation to the organizers, for the invitation to be part of this all important symposium. It gladdens my heart to know that the symposium bring into the theater experts in terrorism, political leaders, academia and civil society organizations from Ghana and Nigeria to deliver credible research work that would serve as basis to inform not only the study of terrorism but also the formulation and implementation of counterterrorism policies in Africa. In the light of terrorist activities in the world in general and parts of Africa in particular, I dare say this symposium could not have come at a more appropriate time.

Since 7th August, 1998 between 10:30 and 10:40 am, when coordinated truck bomb attacks in Nairobi, Kenya and Dares Salam, Tanzania targeting the America Embassies left 233 people dead and over 4000 others injured, Africa has not been same. These attacks, which were perpetrated by Al-Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad constituted one of the major wake-up calls that Africa was not immune to terrorism and that she has to wake-up to the reality of terrorism and take proactive measures to prevent such attacks. Subsequently, there have been many more despicable terrorist attacks on the continent carried out by Al-Qaeda inspired groups like Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghred. As if these three major terror cells on the horn of Africa and Mediterranean were not enough, Boko Haram which literally means ‘Western education is taboo,’ emerged in Nigeria, West Africa carrying out terrorist attacks with an object of toppling the constitutionally elected government and set up an Islamic state in its place.
It there are some Ghanaians who regard earlier attacks by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al-Shabaab as happening far from Ghana and that we had nothing to worry about terrorism, the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria, a brotherly nation with which we share many things in common, is enough evidence that the world we inhabit as Ghanaians is an environment that terrorists exist and where they operate selecting their targets based on their own warped perceptions of issues.

Ghana, just like any other country has its own socio economic, political, religious, ethnic and cultural differences that pose as potential security threats that could trigger terrorist activities. Being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, serious ethnic and religious divisions coupled with extremist tendencies could serve as recipe for terrorists group(s) to emerge with inspiration from Boko Haram or any of the others.

Yet another threat worthy of mention is our oil find. Since the commercial exploitation of our oil begun, one major debate has been whether the oil find would be a blessing or a curse. The experiences of Nigeria and other troubled oil producing countries, show if the oil wealth is not equitably managed, it could give rise to terrorist activities by extremist militants. In our case, the entire coastline which is 550kms with 304 landing sited in 185 fishing communities are not yet properly policed posing as a vulnerability that could be exploited for terrorism.
To compound the situation, countries in the West Africa sub-region have very porous borders that could facilitate in flow of illegal arms and ammunitions from former conflict zones like Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone to fuel planned terrorist agenda.

In spite of all these clear threats, there are still some Ghanaians who held the belief that it is better not to antagonize terrorists by fighting them. For these Ghanaians, I advise them to heed the words of George Walker Bush, immediate past President of the United States of America, who in a speech delivered on 18th December 2005 said; “we do not create terrorists by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorists by ignoring them.”

Mr. Chairman, faced with similar terrorist challenges following the 9/11 attacks on three targets on American mainland that left several thousands of people dead and many more injured, the nation spectacularly revised her response to threats from terrorism by almost immediately creating the Department of Homeland Security. Responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security, as it was formed by the US Congress, range from counterterrorism through air, land and sea border security, immigration enforcement and cyber security to natural or man-made disaster response and recovery. Wide ranging as these responsibilities are, the priority of the Department is counterterrorism issues focusing on how to protect the American people from another 9/11 attack and how to do that in a way that respects their rights, liberties and values.
Following its establishment, a little over a decade ago, the Department has posted some modest successes including its ability to galvanize the nation in a concerted fight against terrorism, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and prevention so far of a 9/11 proportion attack despite the continued targeting of the USA and its interests by Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

Distinguished Invited Guests, a logical question engendered by all that I have said so far is; faced with these terror threats, what workable lessons has Ghana drawn from the USA and what is being done to protect our people from any terrorist activities? It is my conviction that this symposium serves as the right forum to focus our thoughts and with benefit of the power of synergy to find answers to this relevant question.

In bringing my goodwill message to an end, I want to assure Ghanaians that the Ghana Police Service picked all the early signals of threats and has put, and is putting a number of measures in place to prevent and counteract any terrorist activities.
In 2005, the Police service formed the Critical Incident Response Team (CERT) as an internal mechanism to counterterrorist and their related activities. It is positioned as a first reaction unit to any terrorist related incident. Members are given training on Specialized Weapon and Tactic (SWAT,) Bomb Crime Scene Processing Investigation and VIP protection.

To reinforce the capacity of the CERT, the Police Administration in 2007 establishes the Police Research Department (PORD) as an intelligent arm. Its mandate is to gather, analyze and disseminate intelligence relating to terrorism for use by policy makers and other stakeholders.
In a move to properly police our vulnerable coastline and professionally deal with crimes that will be associated with the oil industry, a Marine Police Unit has been set up to deal decisively with criminals and deter terrorists. There are other measures undertaken or being undertakes to counterterrorist activities that I cannot disclose for obvious security reasons.

In wishing you well in your deliberations, I leave you with the words of Benjamin Netayahu, incumbent Prime Minister of Israel, as food for thought. Quote, ‘when I say that terrorism is war against civilization, I may be met by the objection that terrorists are often idealists pursuing worthy ultimate aims- national or regional independence and so forth. I do not accept this agreement. I cannot agree that a terrorist can ever be an idealist or that the objects sought can ever justify terrorism. The impact of terrorism, not merely on individual nations but on humanity as a whole is intrinsically evil, necessarily evil and wholly evil,’ Unquote.

God bless you all.


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