Fighting Terrorism: The Strategic Alternatives By Akan Imoh
Terrorism today has gone beyond spaced violent acts of frustrated men to strategic and well calculated acts of horror. Terrorist networks today are more dispersed and less centralized. They have discovered the art of unconventional warfare and are becoming masters at it. Terrorists have evolved and modified their ways of doing business; hence we must be creative in fighting back.
Fighting terrorism isn’t a battle of guns and ammunitions, it is not bullet for bullet and bomb for bomb; rather it is a battle of ideas and ideologies, it’s a war of theories, concepts and isms. In the long run, winning the War on Terror means winning the battle of ideas.
Ideas can transform the embittered and disillusioned either into murderers willing to kill innocents or state-loving patriots. The battle of ideas is one that should be used to define the strategic intent of our National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.
We have to work with the mass media to fight the ideas that the enemies are using to indoctrinate and recruit suicide bombers; we have to feed our young men and women with the ideologies of a working civil society; we have to create an atmosphere that would make our young citizens have unalloyed loyalty and love for country. We have to come together under one body called Nigeria and fight back like a wounded lion; not fight back as various political parties and factions.
For terrorist, violence is not only justified, it is necessary and even glorified. It is a serious issue. They use suicide bombings, beheadings, and other atrocities against innocent people as a means to promote their creed. They use ‘fear’ as a weapon to promote their anarchist agenda. We need to battle the fear factor by strategically using the media to promote our own battle victories, achievements and successes. We need to note that this isn’t a time for spin and public relations schemes; no, if that is done, the citizens will easily see through the web of lies being created.
Ultimately, we will win the long war to defeat the terrorists and their murderous ideology, but we must stop looking at these people as the local Mallams and abokis on our streets, no, the persons behind these killings are well educated and capable of planning and executing well orchestrated and sophisticated acts of terror.
We need to sit and re-think strategies, we need to re-organize. Guerrilla warfare is a battle of wits and intellect. We can’t fight shadows with guns and bullets, but like a game of chess, its time to fight not only with swords but with brains.
To fight terrorism, total cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence, military, and diplomatic activity is needed. This is not time for the Chief of Defense Staff to be having issues with the Minister of Defence. This is not the time for the Army to raise its shoulders for the Navy, this is not the time for AirForce, in a bid to claim glory hoard pieces of information. This is when we need information sharing among all intelligence agencies.
Also, unnecessary red-tapism should be avoided, especially in the Intelligence gathering circles. We should keep politicians out of this field and leave the jobs to people who know their onions. The Chiefs of these Intelligence Agencies should report directly to the President. A special agency should be formed to specially handle issues related to terrorism and counter-terrorism. We must strengthen our ability to disrupt and help prevent future attacks.
I believe we have top officials who are skilled and highly knowledgeable in handling such issues. These persons should be sought after and encouraged. A center for training Intelligence Officers should be set up, foreign experts should be brought in as facilitators.
People who do nothing are part of the problem of terrorism; they must now become part of the solution. We must all stand against this enemy that is threatening to crumble our country.
The enemy remains determined, and we face serious challenges at home and abroad.
–Akan Imoh is a student of Political Science at the University of Lagos. He is @Akan_Imoh on twitter.
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