Regional intelligence chiefs forge partnership to combat terrorism in Africa
Sudan hosts largest African intelligence conference
With a growing number of terrorism recruiting bases and threats in Africa, the regional committee of Intelligence and Security services (CISSA) has called for "urgent" need to establish strategic partnership to counter such insurgencies and bring about sustainable peace and stability on the continent.
This was the main highlight of the just concluded 14th Ordinary Session of CISSA conference in Khartoum, Sudan. The two-day high level meeting which brought together about 650 people, including Heads of National Intelligence and Security service, security experts and scholars ended on Friday.
The outgoing Chairperson of CISSA and the Secretary General of the National Intelligence and Security Service of Rwanda, Brig. Gen Joseph Nzabamwita observed that terrorists groups are taking advantage of lapses in security to rally disillusioned sections of citizens into security-threatening activities against their government; stances that have hindered progress of the continent.
"Terrorism organizations operate in agility and secrecy. They survive on exploiting local grievances and vulnerabilities to rally disenchanted people against their governments. In this regards, I call upon African nations to join their efforts effectively to address this threat," Nzabamwita stated.
Sudan’s second Vice President, Hassabo Mohammed Abdul Rahman, while speaking at the closing of CISSA meeting said that Sudan has "greatly suffered" from terrorism, political instability, negative forces, and internal conflicts; "so it supports all the joint efforts for the sake of Africa’s security and stability."
He affirmed Sudan’s call for security institutions to look for common ground to confront the negative phenomenon and security threats and noted that his government supports directives towards supporting African joint security actions.
Hassabo said that some negative foreign forces are deliberately targeting Africa and its rich resources hence a need for collective measures if the continent is to reach its desired socio-economic transformation.
Shimeles Semayat, Executive Secretary of CISSA told Sunday Times that areas considered vulnerable to militant groups and have a spill off effects on the continent’s peace and security include Libya, Somalia, Central African Republic and South Sudan among others.
"Libya remains to be an area where ISIS has now started to regroup itself after it has been defeated and kicked out of Syria and because of the prevailing political instability in the country. And this would negatively affect the security of the neighbouring countries because it will give ISIS in Libya an avenue to spread down to the neighbours," Semayat said.
He added that, "Somalia remains a stronghold area for Al-Shabaab. In 2016, Al-Shabaab attacks led to more than 5000 killed and this remains a source of concern not only for Somalia but for the entire East African region. And again the situation in Central Africa where we see fighting based on ethnic and religious lines, Boko Haram in Nigeria remains and all these need immediate attention from the African Union and all the CISSA Member countries."
The conference highlighted measures recently adopted by the previous meetings on what can be done to reduce security threats associate with free movement of people and goods.
"The meeting urged member states to implement those measures so as to have free movement of people a reality at the same time making sure that security threats are minimized", Semayat added.
Ambassador Smail Chergui, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security is optimistic that CISSA’s recommendations—once implemented by member states—could go a long way in ensuring that the Union’s vision of silencing guns by the year 2020 would come to reality.
These recommendations include among others; unearthing the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons supply chain, illicit terrorist financing mechanisms, the abuse of the cyber domain for radicalization purposes and the nexus between terrorism and other transnational organized crimes.
Lt. Gen Mohamed Atta Al-Mulla Abbas, the incoming Chair of CISSA and Sudan’s Intelligence Chief noted that, "with comprehensive and intentional strategic partnership towards combating terrorism and other transitional crimes—posed by rogue Non-Governmental, armed groups and negative forces, mercenaries and foreign terrorist fighters—we will have prosperous Africa."
Meanwhile, Sudan President Omar Al Bashir offered to finance the building of a CISSA Training Academy to improve skills to combat terrorism in the region.
CISSA also commended Rwanda’s Chairmanship for championing a "Paperless conference", also announcing that the next conference will take place in Namibia and Nigeria in 2018 and 2019 respectively.