Preventing the Spread of Terrorism in the Horn of Africa


So much attentions have been paid to America war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, the world has but forgotten the spread of terrorism in other regions. Groups are on the rise like the new terrorist group called ISIS.  One of the most dangerous region is the greater Horn of Africa along with Yemen, it volatile neighbour.

According to Bowyer Bell (1975, pp.10-10) who used the term “Endemic terrorism” to describe the state of terrorist violence in Africa. He defined this as a form of terrorism created by artificial division of tribes and ethnic groups, when moving the extent of the south of the Sahara, it is possible to see the extent of endemic terrorism, but problems in the Sub-Sahara Africa extended beyond terrorism. War, Famine, corruption, and disease are more pressing.

Both children and women are exploited, and totalitarian governments control some of the countries on the continent. Africa is the poorest continent on earth. As the saying goes in Africa, So many big men in Nairobi, In other words, lots of so-called big shots who behaves like a king, have no respect for their fellow men and the security on the ground, they don’t abide by the rules of law. 

And when it comes to the police, they are their trash and tooth bush. They illegally invade the traffic and insult he police officers on duty at will. But when they visit the western countries, they kept their tails of respect between their legs. Oh! Yes, what a sad continent? More besides, some security personnel are not well educated or trained. They come to the force without the requisite requirements. They entered the force blindly because of the relationship with some kind of so-called official recommendations. And so, this is Africa.

It is easier to understand terrorism in Africa by using the logic in Boyer’s definition. Africa was colonized by European nations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and they divided the continent based on European sphere of influence. Paying no attention to traditional regions or tribal boundaries in Sub-Sahara Africa, various ethnic groups were place in newly formed Europeanized countries. This was problematic. Many times competing tribes or groups of deadly rivals were joined in the new countries.

Example. The Tutsi and Hutus – can be found in both Rwanda and Burundi, as they both pay loyalty to each side of the borders. The Gios/Dan, Manos, Krahs, Mandingos, and Mende are found in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Historically, you know how these tribes play their role, their loyalty to their kinsmen during the Liberian civil war. Post-Colonial revolts and political pressure slowly forced European countries out of the countries after World War II, leaving many countries seething with internal hostilities.

In addition, some countries were dominated by white’s colonists who refused to yield power to black minorities after European departed. Those that forced themselves to leave behind felt the weight of African’s might. The rest is history as more African countries became to get their freedom/ independence from the 50’s 60’s 70,s and the 80,s.   Feelings of social animosity were exacerbated by extreme disparity in the unequal distribution of Africa’s limited wealth and fierce economic exploitation of the continent’s mineral and energy resources.

Ethnic cleansing child armies, war by self-appointed militias such as the Lord’s Resistance Army and the former National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), crime and corruption, and internal strife have evolved into Sub-Sahara Africa’s unique brad of national terrorism. Oh! Yes, it is endemic indeed. In the past years, the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has targeted hotels in West Africa.

The Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb North Africa known as AQM has its roots in Algeria and they are competing with the newly terrorist organization known as ISIS for reassertion and dominance in West Africa. Their recent actions in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali is a sure case and warning to most West Africa countries to be pro-active in combating terrorism .Terrorism does not refer to the Muslim’s faith, but those that are radicalized.

Infarct, other members of religion faith has been radicalized. And if terrorists were Muslims, they will never attack their own country. Terrorism has no boundary, and they can strike anywhere to satisfy their blood thirsty desire. Quiet recently, when a renounced Political figure in Liberia spoke about the awareness of Terrorism in my Native country, Liberia, there were lots of negative and positive comments on the social media accusing Charles Walker Brumskine of presenting Liberia ugly to the international community, thereby scaring investors to do business in Liberia.

When I made my comment, agreeing with Cllr. Brumskine, a friend called me from Monrovia, saying if I was a member of the Liberty party? WOW! WHAT a sad day, a narrow thinking, where people cannot express their views.  I simply told him, I am not a member of Liberty Party, but agreed with good points made by the learned Counsellor.

The decision my pentagon to create a separate African Command is the clearest indication that the United States military and other branches of US government view Sub-Sahara Africa as a growing and radical Islamic terrorist threat. In Western and Central Africa, terrorism represents a potential danger. The Horn of Africa has active groups including, a jihadist movement, but even more ethnic leasing, revolts, slavery and starvation outweigh the problems presented by terrorism. Others are corruption, undermining and disseminating false information to the higher authority. 

Besides, it is difficult to single out terrorism in Africa because, Africa is the source of conventional and guerrilla warfare, several revolutions and criminal violence. One of the primary reasons is because of Africa’s position in the world. It is the most poverty –stricken region on earth, and Sub-Sahara Africa and position of the continent has negative economic growth. Some leaders on the continent have extended their tenure of the presidency which is totally against the constitution.

Don’t even ask me where are they? Just look in the political mirrors, as dozens who have attempted will be spotted.   Health conditions in Africa are worse on the planet yet officials of government and their families go abroad to attend to their health. WOW! Jesus Christ, what a continent, where a leader of a country thinks, that she /he is the King or Queen of the Country. His/ her word remains a Gospel that cannot be challenged. Anyone who dares challenge the status quo is the enemy of State.

 In Africa, the structures of security is not constant, there are lots of trained security men roaming the streets of city and of country side. The reasons are somehow mixed. When a new leader is elected by the people, instead keeping the old guys around to give advice to the younger ones, the leader with the advice of so-called and in-experience loyalists are intimidated by the presence of the old guys. As the result lies are created against the old guys thereby presenting them as the worst enemies of the new leader.  And so, well trained armed men are roaming the streets of Africa cities and beyond.

Again, more of the untrained and quasi security men are the most dangerous liars in the security system. Their work is to gossip and carried false accusations against their friends. As far as some African leaders and other citizens are concerned, security is not a profession in Africa and so they are considered as another dumpsite area.

They say once you are in the employed of security, you are a low priority, an uneducated fool who duties are to drive their cars and carry their kids to school.  For them, you must have no saying in the society. You are a complete dump even when the wrongs are against you. 

In his text written by Maxim Worcester. He said the underlying structural causes of state weakness in Sub-Sahara Africa is relatively low population densities, problematic population, distribution and poor infrastructure will remain ambiguous through 2016 and beyond.

Much of Africa depends upon two (2) extended drivers of development growth. Foreign direct Investment(FDI) and flows who distribution across the continent will continue to be uneven, maintaining a situation in which nodes of promise sit side with dozens of weak government couple with corrupt   rulers which some other countries  stubbornly refuse to response to extended efforts to eliminate growth and development. Moreover, according to the British Government’s Department for International Development, fragile states are today home of more than 900 million people, half of whom live in severe poverty. This poses a significant threat to international community as such states offer a safe haven for illicit trades, drugs production and weapons –smuggling.

Corruption presents an endemic problem and the global result is likely to be regional spill-over of the effects of conflict, terrorism and a failure to manage epidemic disease. A high portion of such countries are to be found in Africa. Highly fragile African states are the following: Central Africa Republic (CAR),Chad, Congo (DRC), Somalia, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tomé and Principle, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

More besides, the problem of Failing states is significantly more dangerous that is generally understood as those unstable regions are a breeding ground for organized crime and terrorism. A case study is that of the Horn of Africa which includes Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somali land and Uganda etc. Such states offer terrorists space to train and recruit dissatisfied followers given that such countries are “no-go retreat area” for government troops; they are also a safe haven to retreat and regrouped. The problem of fighting is how complicated because of the Africa’s vast cultural and ethnic differences across the geographical boundaries making the gathering and interpretations of intelligence difficult.

The problem is that the fight against terrorism is not a job which can be taken by one single agency. It requires team work and input from a wide range of natural and international organization including law enforcement agencies, the financial sector, the diplomatic service, Health organization, politicians, permanent citizens tec. And the key to these organizations success is “Corporation and coordination” More besides, the prerequisite for success is “Good Governance”. This central to the effective administration of state resources.

The rule of law, and the development of a strong civil society. Any if such structure is in place can the war against terror, which is fueled by dissatisfaction and ignorance can be won.  It is interest to note that those countries which have good government are successful in fighting terrorism. Whist, the threat remains in Western Europe; it has been countered effectively by a multitude of international measures and international cooperation. 

Numerous terrorist plots have been uncovered at an early stage, preventing attacks on innocent citizens. Positively, the concept of good governance is too opaque to be practical use of many African countries, have not had a widely held and detailed definition of what constitutes good governance. Otto Von Bismarck reportedly stated that “politics is the art of the possible” However, performance must be judged against objective criteria and these are missing in the administrative structures of most African presidency.

They manipulate their so-called political foes and closed their eyes on hard facts.  I tell you for sure, United States and its western allies will not send their soldiers in the dense forest of Africa to fight terrorism. It is time for Africa and its leaders to wake by sharing intelligence and bringing good governance, transparency, respectful for human rights to Mama-Africa so as stop  the prevention of Terrorism in Africa.

About the Author:
Mr. James D. Hallowanger, obtained his BA, MA, from the Department of political Science ,  International Relations from the IBB–Graduate  School  University of Liberia, and MS in Criminal Justice Administration with emphasis in Counter –Terrorism and HomeLand Security-St. Louis Missouri , USA. Email: [email protected]/314-398-9580