LIBERIA: The Rise of Terrorism In Africa

The history of Terrorism has been disputed by scholars whether the roots of terrorism date back to the 1st century and the sicarii Zealots to the 11 century. During 1st century, CE, the Jewish Zealots in Judea province rebelled, killing prominent collaborators with roman rule. During the French revolution, The Reign of Terror (1793-1794) was a period of eleven months, wherethe ruling Jacobins employed violence including the mass executions by guillotine, in order to intimidate the regime enemies and compel them to surrender to the state. The revolution was so deadly that human intestines were used as gates to every check point and head of a dead person could be displaced to an open area.

Also the term terrorism has spawned heated debate. Instead of agreeing on the definition of terrorism, policy makers, and social scientists are often confused about  its single  meaning. There has been different meaning of the world terrorism from time to time. Therefore, the term terrorism is defined within social and political contexts. The intelligence communities of the United States have different meaning of terrorism. Alex Schmid,  a scholar, defines terrorism in the academic context, and their academic definition is accepted by the United Nations that says; Terrorism is an anxiety inspiring method of repeated violent actor, employed by semi clandestine individual groups, or state actors.
During World War II, some tactics of Guerilla were used by the British soldiers when their resistant colon was supplied by the Allied Forces. According to historian M.R.D Foot, the British used the organization drew of its inspiration from the IRA-Irish Republic Army. Political pundits and security specialists have often said that the increased attack and the numbers of terrorist’s organizations have grown after the collapse  of the Soviet Union in 1991. The federation of Russia Republic faced more problems after the breakaway states decided to demand independence.

For examples, the breakaway Chechnya republic fought two bitter wars with Russia for independence. The Chechnya  rebels fought a modern guerrilla’s warfare. The terrorists were able to carry on bombing and suicide against Russian interests. After the Chechnya defeat by Russia, most of its weapons were taken across the borders by the defeated rebels, which went  into the hands of terrorists group.  Most of these deadly weapons were cheaply bought by unscrupulous business men and sold cheap on the continent of Africa to warlords and other sitting despot leaders on the horn of Africa.

For example, during the civil war in Liberia, West Africa, Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arm dealer is alleged to have sold thousands of arms to the then rebel leader and President, Charles Taylor who was recently found guilty by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Bout  himself is in the custody of the American government awaiting trial.
It was alleged that Victor Booth also supplied the Sierra Leonean rebels  with armed and ammunition through Charles Taylor and Burkina Faso President Blaise Campaore, which in return received blood diamonds to feud one of the deadliest civil wars  in  African  history.
The source of terrorism in Africa also started with the petitioning  of Africa by the European countries. They divided Africa among themselves to avoid conflict with one another. That is, where Europeans  settled illegally in any part of the continent, the other Europeans should sought  somewhere to conquer and settle. This meeting took place in Berlin Germany from 1887-1888 and was signed by all participants including Great Britain, France Spain, Portugal, etc.
 
After dividing the continent, they created artificial boundaries among the so-called areas they captured forcibly from the tribes. The Europeans did not think of the African tribal links. After gaining its independence from their colonial powers from a prolonged bloody civil war. The European left behind the artificial boundaries.  As of date, the artificial boundaries remained after independence, with tribes being found across the borders, and in two  Countries.Political or military support is always given to their pearls on the other side of the border wherever they are in conflict. For example, in Rwanda and Burundi, the Hutus and Tutsi are found in the two countries. According to historian, Great Britain, Germany and Belgium, were spotted in the area. 

Germany lost country of Rwanda after its defeat in War World II.Belgium, was the last colonial power to do business with the Rwandan and the Burundians. However, it is said that the three European countries favored Tutsis because of their look. They have a fair color, tall and usually long nose. And so in the racist ideology couple with envy and jealousy, the Hutus identified the Tutsis as the foreign race which  led to genocide in 1997 in Rwanda where more than 1 million Tutsis and Hutus moderates were killed.

During the liberation struggle in Africa in the 1960,s and late 1970s, the term terrorism were never mentioned, but only guerilla tactics  could be heard, which should be described today as an act of terrorism .  During its struggle for liberations, countries like Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Angola and Kenya fought this hard class guerilla warfare to free their countries from colonial dominance.

After gaining its independence, Africa still continues to be involved in more internal conflicts on the continent. It is for this reason that Africa has been described  as the source of conflict and conventional war fare and revolutions; criminal violence for several reasons. And one of the primary reasons is Africa’s  position in the World as the most corrupt, and poverty –stricken region on the planet.

Also, the income of individuals is very low. Health conditions in Africa are also the worse on the planet as AIDS epidemic and others tropical diseases continue to take lives of thousands of Africans.

According to Thomas P.M Barnett, a political scientist,  most of the African countries are plagued by tribal strifes. Nepotism and bad governance, that result  into political turmoil on the continent. In sub-Saharan Africa; Barnett went to say most oil on the continent is located in the West coast. These fields according to him; are attractive to the United States because it is  known as sweet crude, that is, it has a lower concentration of sulfur, and it is easier and cheaper to refine into gasoline.Second,it is closer to the East Coast of the United States than that of the Middle East, thereby reducing transportation costs.

The confusion over oil starts when proceed from the oil is being diverted into the pockets of officials of governments and the funds is not reaching down to the ordinary citizens. Confusion becomes to ensue when no development is taking place to where   the oil is being produced or drilled.For example, Kent Saworewa and others were executed on the order of  Nigerian  military leader Sani  Abacha for speaking for the area where the oil  is being drilled or produced without any development.

The acts of terrorism also started In the 19th century, The United Kingdom and Germany began vying for the imperial control of East Africa land now called Kenya.Gritain Britain then gained the upper hand after the defeat of the Germans in World War II. Accordingly, the British took most of the fertile land and handed  it over to some of  its European partners. One tribe which could not stand this kind of awful behavior was the Kikuyu. The kikuyu resisted the actions of the British as fighting ensued between the two forces. The Kikuyu resistance group was known as the Mau Mau. The Mau Mau was based on tribal rites and ceremonies where symbols were used to solidify the tribal group. Becoming a Mau Mau was also taking an oath in a mystical tribal ceremony. The Mau Mau group became very violence using whatever means to settle score with the British. Even though the Mau Mau lost the guerrilla struggle, they won the political settlement, by gaining independence from Great Britain in 1963.

After the liberation of independence struggle, Africa became embroiled with a new kind of conflict called the civil war on the continent.

During the late 1990s,  Africa was a terror –free zone, even though other forms of civil wars were fought on the continent. Terror raged in various parts of the world, yet Africa remained free and unfamiliar with terrorism activities on the continent. But the situation changed in 1998, when terrorist attacks in Kenya and Tanzania at the United States embassies shocked the African continent.  During the twin embassy attacked, over 200 people were killed and about 4000 people wounded. Only 20 American  died as the result of the two bombings.  After the Tanzanian and Kenyan bombing in 1998, Africa has become the main arena for international terrorism. One of the reasons is, Africa is much closer and wide open for any terrorism activities .Also; it is much easier to attack United States outside than attacking her in United States which is very much complicated.  But the war on terrorism in Africa did not begin after September 11, 2001  as people may perceived. The United States started the war in early 1990,s with the location of Bin Linden in Somalia where, he operated as his  base to kill the then Egyptian Hosni Mubarak while on a conference to Sudan.  

At present, dozens of sponsored  international terrorist organizations are active on the African Continent. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the movement for oneness and Jihad and Ansar Dine in the Sahel region; Jama atu Ablis SunnalIDDA’awati wal-Jihad (BOKO HARA0 in Nigeria; Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahedeen in Somalia; Al-Gama,a aal-Islamiyya in Egypt; the  Lord Resistance Army in Uganda; Pirate terrorism in the Gulfs of Aden and Guinea etc.And we say that the continent of Africa is firmly in the network of terrorism grip.  Al-Qaeda in the Islamic region is planning  to overthrow the Algerian Government and establish an Islamic  state in the region. They are mainly Tuareges, Algerians and Moroccans.  The (AQiM)  is said to have been responsible for the  brief seizing of Northern Mali and the attack on Bamako in January 2012.

AQIM first announced its creation in 2007 after  it broke  away from the Safafit group for preaching and combating. Because of its illegal activities, countries in Europe like Great Britain, France, Spain and International organization like the United Nations and EU including the United States have all added it to their list  of terrorist’s organizations.
Its  main goal is to spread the ideology of global Jihad and uniting all the extremist  groups in North Africa to overthrown existing state  that  pays deaf ears to their struggle and establish an Islamic state. AQIM fighters  are organized  to infiltrate government agencies and international agencies that work in the region . For examples, In 2007,in the Algerian province of Ain Defla, a Russian citizen that work in the area with an international agency and three Algerian were killed after  Russian bus company was blown up. About 800 police have been killed by the Egyptians terrorist group Al- Gama al-Islamiyya (GI) the past five years. It was transformed into a political party which received 13 seats in the country’s  parliament after the ousted of former President Hosni Mubarak
The Harakat AL-Shabaab Al Mujahedeen commonly known as the AL-Shabaah, is based in Somalia, and operates a militant group which controls significant portion of southern Somalia. They enforced sharia law into the territory they now control and their official goal is jihad against the enemies of Islam. At present,  the terrorists are fighting the African Union troops and any troops that  is seen in Somalia. Nearly a year ago, the African troops with the help of Ethiopia and Kenya military drove Al-Shabaah from the capital Mogadishu. Al Shabaah is still operating in rural parts of Somalia. Recently they boast of the West gate mall terrorists attack that killed more than 67 Kenyan citizens in Nairobi. One good opportunity terrorists operating on the continent of Africa is, they move freely from country to country and from borders to borders without any interference from the security. The reason is because many  parts of the borders are very porous and long. With weak security at borders entry, the terrorists then take advantage, and do their business as usual.

Terrorist organizations in Africa are beginning to unite. For examples, when Nigeria entered Mali as part of the African Union, Boko Haram which  has  its base in Nigeria, gave the Nigerian troops a surprise attack in Mali. The Togolese government recently informed the United Nations Security Council about a threat from the terrorist for the first time in its country.  Even though the Togolese government did not go into details, it said there  were  individuals who are bent on destabilizing the country through bombing and cutting off important communications in the country. The main aims of these terrorist organizations are to stop development in Africa and force the United Nations to withdraw its troops from other troubled spots in Africa like Mali.
In the beginning of 2013, terrorist groups have been successful in carrying out attacks in many African countries. In April of 2013, a senior United Nations official called for assistance for Burkina Faso after a terrorist attack. In early may of  the same year, a terrorist group from Nigeria, Boko Haram attacked an army barracks and police station and  released  some of its members.

As already mentioned above, most terrorist groups in Africa aim is to hinder the progress of the United Nations, Africa Union, ECOWAS, and other regional groups on the continent mainly on peace missions and other humanitarian services.  Another aim could be a merger between so-called political heavy weights who have lost elections or been denied and cheated of the presidency by the so-called election commissions whom themselves are appointment by the sitting president. As the results of some of these dissatisfactions, Africa could easily turn into recruiting, financing grounds for terrorists on the continent. Thereafter, terrorists could take the opportunity to seize control of important resources like oil, Diamonds, uranium, etc.
Some terrorists attack had to do with the basis of revenge  where other African countries come together in the name of the regional group to liberate other countries that have been overthrown by the military. For example, when the government of Mali was overthrown by the military early January 2012, The Tuareg terrorists seized the opportunity to take control ofNorthern Mali from the weak and unprepared soldiers.  The terrorists went to destroy the 15th-16th year’s artifacts that have been kept for years-a site for tourist attraction.
The terrorists were pushed out of Northern Mali with the help of the French military. The African Union then sent troops from the continent to Mali to help beef-up the effort of the French Military. Since the 9/11, security analysis say, the increase in terrorism in Africa is alarming, the number of failed states has risen and the continent has become more embroiled with violence and confusion. The analysts say terrorism in Africa has risen because, 9/11 was a big fish caught in the baskets for them. The analyst says united States prefer preventing terrorism from entering their country than prevent terrorism in the Diaspora.   It now appears that United States has lost Africa to terrorism because of paying less attention to Africa.  

According to defense secretary Leon Panetta, who replaced Roberts, United States National Security could be terrorists reared in Africa, if quick action is not taken. Panetta said, he has sent dozens of troops to some trouble spots in Africa, mainly South Sudan, and the Congo to train Africans to fight, and defeat the rise of terrorism in the region including al-Qaeda cells.
The United States Africa command (AFRICOM), with its headquarters in Germany is one of the six geographic combatant commands, and is responsible for military relations with African Nations, the Africa Union and other regional security organizations.

Terrorism in Africa is beign feud by drug trafficking. According to the United Nations department on drugs, there has been an increased in the daily capture  by security in the loose and unprotected region. The Al Qaeda link in West Africa after 9/11 was a remarkable success by the terrorist’s organization. The Al Qaeda penetrated two countries in West Africa in the year 2000, namely Liberia and Sierra Leone. Al Qaeda  wasalleged  to have colluded with Burkina Faso and Liberia leaders to buy diamonds from Sierra Leonean rebels through these countries. These diamonds were reportedly described as blood diamonds by the international community. The former Liberian leader Charles Taylor has been found guilty by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for fueling the war in Sierra Leone.
 The recent terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria have now focus the attention of the international community and have also renewed the strength of the terrorists and militancy in Africa. The September 21st  surprised attack in Nairobi Kenya at the Westgate mall by Al shabaah and the attack by in the same month by Boko Haram, in Nigeria killing scores of students at a college, took the Nigerian government by surprise.
 The Nigerian authority were surprised because militants or terrorists don’t normally attack boarding school or  college where students reside. What the Nigerian authority forgets is, Boko Haram has continued to say its organization is against western education ideology. In other words, they do not believe in western education. After these attacks, African countries must think of a new strategies that will intercept the terrorists’ plan through intelligence before they strike. They must be more progressive in dealing with the terrorists. United States have been progressive in dealing with terrorists in Africa. One of the progressive actions taken recently by the United States and  was applaud by the international community  was  when the United States  Navy surprisingly attacked on the hiding territory of Al-shabaah nearly missing its leader by inch in the Somalia highlands. But the United States Navy was lucky this time to capture a terrorist’s suspect in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. The suspect, Anas al-libi whose real name is Nazin Abdul Hamed al-Rugai, was on FBI most wanted list with a 5 million bounty on hand for this alleged role on the twin bombing of the two United States embassies in East Africa in 1998. While the United States and its western allied are trying to stop the flow of terrorist attack in Africa, Security specialists say, Africa needs to unite in the global fight against terrorism. And in order to eradicate and stop the recruitment of terrorism, Africa needs to        focus on good governance, eradicating rampant corruption and poverty, bringing in sound economic   policies that will boost agricultural industries. Majority of the African population live in the rural area, without good drinking water, and sewer system. They still go in the bushes to ease themselves. And some citizens still drink water from the creeks or river. Almost all of African countries do not have any social security, medical or retirement benefits. Once they retired from the government service, which is the highest, beneficial for employment for citizen on the continent,  is the end of their story.
 
In Africa, there is least respect for ex-service men. The armies, police, Immigration are the least paid job on the continent. They are also considered being the least educated people. These trained men are usually forgotten and put on the way side without any medication or life insurance benefits for they and their family. They find themselves entangle with poverty which could lead them for easy recruitment on the continent. For example, after the civil war in Liberia and Ivory Coast, the ex-service men of these two armies are moving without proper support. Therefore, the developed  nations must act fast  to help the developing countries in Africa  to improve rail road’s and road net work  and inform African leaders about the importance of abandoning Ex-security men that successfully served the countries.

United States and the west need to take serious the increase activities of terrorism in Africa. The aims and objectives of the terrorisms in Africa are to stop the flow of freedom and democracy. To destroy the interest of the United States and its Western allied nations. And since it is very difficult for terrorists to enter the United States and other western countries unnoticed, they have chosen African countries that have an easy access to enter and do their usual business. Africa may not be on  the same level  with Iraq, Pakistan or Afghanistan and the Middle East, and even Asia to spent billions of dollars, but United States need to take a key interest in Africa antiterrorism programs. But, if Washington continues to downplay terrorists threat or activities in Africa, it may soon be late for her to act. These terrorists may regroup to destroy parts of the world when they handle uranium or nuclear weapons.       

About Author: James D. Hallowanger, 2013 MA  Graduate IN Criminal Justice Administartion with emphasis in Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security at Lindenwood University, St,Louis Missouri USA,  2009 MA, Graduate International Relations,IBB-Graduate School of International studies, University of Liberia. He is also the former Commissioner of police and commandant police Academy,formerdeputy Director SSS, University of Liberia.eMAIL-jdhallo@yahoo.com-cell # 314-359-7508.

 

 

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