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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

African intelligence chiefs converge in Banjul on counter-terrorism

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By Olimatou Coker

The Committee of Intelligence and Security Service chiefs in Africa, CISSA, yesterday opened a four-day meeting on counterterrorism amid rising security concerns in the continent.

The high-level convergence is hosted by the Gambia’s State Intelligence Services (SIS) at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center.

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The theme centred on the need to close capacity gaps and enhance coordination to effectively counter terrorism in West Africa and the Sahel Region amid regional volatilities.

Ousman Sowe, the Director General of SIS, said the issue of terrorism is increasing discord which seeks to destroy and break down societies along with the very concept of nation states.

He added that these objectives are pursued by extremists for the sake of promoting extremist ideology, which brings hatred for the others, destroying everything geared towards pushing humanity forward, and disrupting all investments geared towards achieving the aspired development aspirations.

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According to him, West Africa and the Sahel region are now becoming the epicenter of terrorist activities with devastating consequences affecting the collective security manifesting in cross border challenges, insecurity, rising humanitarian challenges, food insecurity and many other.

Zainab Alikotoko, the Executive Secretary of CISSA, said the meeting is taking place at a time when the region is being described as not only the epicenter of violent extremism and terrorism, but also criminal activity as a result of the presence of local and foreign terrorist groups as well as organized criminal groups.

“Not only two of these groups pose a serious security threat to West Africa, but also to the continent. The struggle between violent extremism and terrorism and transnational organized crimes in recent times, is leading to the existence of sophisticated networks and cooperation between terrorists and criminal groups, as we all know terrorist groups try to capitalise on existing political, social, economic and security vulnerabilities and challenges,” she said.

Abubacarr Rufia, head of Nigeria National Intelligence Agency, said the meeting could not have come at a better time when the region is facing renewed efforts by terrorist groups affiliate of al-Qaeda and ISIS to expand their operations and foothold.

He pointed out that the region is indeed experiencing volatilities of a complex nature, which require enhanced coordination based on well thought-out strategies to be addressed.

Badara Alieu Joof, the vice president of The Gambia, said the country attaches great importance and value to our continued collaboration and cooperation, especially in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

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