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Opinions of Thursday, 31 December 2015

Columnist: EL-Saeed, Mohammed Abdul Hanan

Terrorism and the arms cache bust, let's be guided by Boko Haram

Terrorism is no small joke and people involved in terrorism are often the most intelligent bunch you can find anywhere. Many of them may not have the highest of educational qualifications but they certainly have what it takes to put those with enviable academic records on their feet anywhere in the world.

They are always one step ahead of time. "Before the best and most sophisticated security networks will think, they [terrorist] have already thought".

The criminologists will tell you that, "when you arrest a single criminal the possibility is that nine criminals might have passed". That is exactly how the terrorist groups operate. They don't have one network neither do they have only one camp they operate from. They amply exemplify the phrase "never keep all your eggs in one basket."

What this tells us is that, probably there are a lot more weapons have passed under the cover of darkness without anybody notice, [sadly and dangerously so] even before the now famous Kumasi Alabar and "Salaga Seven" arrest.

The probability of terror hideouts, cells and camps operating clandestinely within our borders is very high.

The recent arrest of dealers of illegal sophisticated weapons and ammunition in Kumasi and the arrest of seven others in Salaga for possessing AK 47 assault rifles, Taliban propaganda materials and training sessions on their computers should be a great cause of worry for us as a nation.

We must be worried because all the "ingredients" that are usually prerequisites for the off take of a terror network are all well with us now and this must put us on a "red alert situation"

The terrorist become extremely happy when they hear the masses talking about corruption, the presence of poverty and unemployment, perceived religious marginalization and discrimination, lack of accountability, greed, show of opulence and profligate spending by the ruling elites.

These cocktail of societal challenges [either real or perceptive] gives the terrorist a lot of propaganda capital and mileage to reach out to their target with their messages with relative ease and less difficulty.

They are able to do this with some mouth-watering handouts to "convert" their victims [usually unsuspecting] into radicalism.

The fight against terrorism is not one that must be left to the security forces and intelligence agencies to deal with. Every citizen must take part. In fact, the 1992 constitution of the Republic enjoins us as citizens to stand up against any action that has the potency to harm the peace of the nation.

This is the reason why I was so elated when I read that it took the vigilance of the Chiefs and local people in Salaga to arrest the seven persons with the arms and Taliban propaganda material.

The police service on both occasions, at Salaga and Kumasi Alabar; deserve commendations for living up to their constitutional mandate of protecting the people under rain or shine.

The actions and vigilance of both the police and the Chiefs and people of Salaga are highly commendable and we must all in one accord salute them.

Terrorism has no space in our country despite our diverse religious, ethnic, political, economic, social and regional backgrounds. This nation is a solid unitary state and we must not allow anything to divide us.

The Moslems in Kenya who recently defied the orders of Al - shabaab terror network to segregate themselves from the Christians so that they could kill them should encourage us in our resolve to continue to live in peace with each other as Moslems and Christians knowing that what binds us as a people is far more stronger than that which divides us.

The Kumasi and Salaga arrests should remind us how the Nigerian situation started. It started with rumors of mushrooming terrorist groups in the north of the country but the state authorities went to sleep more or less than they should have acted and gave groups like Boko Haram grounds to find a solid foundation to stand on.

When these rumors started circulating about a certain group known as Boko Haram led by one Mohammed Yusuf who had masterminded some terror related bombings and killings in the country, they did not do proper intelligence analysis of the group to find out who were those behind the group, its dynamics and the power play that was ongoing in the group but arrested Yusuf alone who was seen by many as a relatively "moderate terrorist" as compared to Shekau who was clearly seen as a more dangerous radical terrorist.

Yusuf was reported to have attempted to escape from lawful custody and was killed by the Nigerian forces. However, officials of Human Rights Watch in Nigeria doubted the authenticity of the story and called for immediate investigation into the killing of Yusuf describing it as "extrajudicial and illegal"

Matching this logically with the arrest of the "Salaga Seven" and the Kumasi Alabar arms and ammunition dealer, my advice is that we must ensure that these guys have their day in court and we must avoid the mistake of any of them dying in custody because we don't know how many haven't been arrested yet who may want to declare any of such deaths as "martyrs" of their ideologies which they could use to recruit more innocent ignorant followers.

Before the killing of Mohammed Yusuf, intelligence had it that, he was against the behavior of Shekau in terms of how fast he wanted things to move as to the groups campaign on bombings, killings and the implementation of Sharia law in the northern half of Nigeria.

Yusuf was seen by many intelligence watchers as the one who was in support of the option to have a dialogue with the state Nigerian authorities but Shekau will have none of that.

That is why it was so disgusting for most people in the intelligence community to understand why Yusuf was "killed" instead giving him a day in court so that the world could get to hear more from him.

The killing of Yusuf meant that Shekau now had an automatic and more or less an unhindered elevation to be the head and leader of the Boko Haram terror group.

His actions have since made the group one of the most deadly terror groups in the world topping the chart with the enviable record as the most deadly in terms of bombings and killings.

With the arrest of "Salaga Seven", their weapons and the "Alabar arms dealer", Ghana must quickly activate its Counter Terrorism Strategies (CTS) to nib in the bud any attempt to kill citizens of this country.

I know and believe that Ghana has one of the best CTS readiness in the sub region that is capable of standing foot to foot with any terror group should they rare their ugly heads. Our capacity is not in doubt at all.

Mohammed Abdul Hanan EL-Saeed
Ghana Police Service
Chiraa station
Sunyani District
Brong Ahafo Region
Panacin@gmail.com