Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security in Liberia Via Community Partnership


 The Editor,

As terrorism threats persist in our region, protecting mama Liberia is a share responsibility and everyone can contribute by staying informed and aware of the threats the county faces. In the absence of needed resources for local law enforcement, we must create an awareness for our citizens to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime and other threats, standardize how those observations are documented, analysed, and enhanced the sharing of those reports with local law enforcement across the country.

Community policing is based on the notion that citizens should be empowered to prevent crime or the problems that lead to crime. Establishing and maintaining mutual trust is therefore the central goal of community policing, as it allows wide law enforcement access to valuable community information leading potentially to the prevention of terrorism and resolution of crimes.

The partnerships formed in support of community crime prevention efforts can also provide a framework for engaging citizens to help police identify possible terrorist threats and infrastructure vulnerabilities. Effective community policing involves not only developing partnerships between law enforcement and citizens, however, but also intergovernmental and interagency collaborations. These partnerships are essential for the collection and exchange of intelligence, the identification of threats and vulnerabilities, and the sharing of resources  are vital in the prevention of terrorist attack.

Prior to the advent of community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing was associated with the decentralization of responsibility and with lateral communication both within and outside the police department. Problem-oriented policing dealt with the conditions that cause a problem; this concept of policing required officers to recognize relationships that lead to crime and disorder and direct their attention to issues of causation.  

Problem-oriented policing converged on three main themes: increased effectiveness, reliance on the expertise and creativity of officers, and closer involvement with the community. These themes are implemented by attacking underlying phenomena that deplete patrol officers’ and detectives’ time, and educating officers to study problems and develop innovative solutions to ensure that police address the needs of citizens.

Community policing requires an organizational transformation inside the law enforcement agency so that a set of basic values rather than mere procedures guide the overall delivery of services to the community.

In the community policing model, individual officers are given broader freedom to resolve concerns within their community. Individual officers are presumably the most familiar with their communities and are therefore in the best position to forge close ties with the community and create effective solutions. Community policing emphasizes employee participation; individual officers are given the authority to solve problems and make operational decisions suitable to their assignments. Officers are seen as generalists, not specialists.

Many people view the recent wave of terrorist attack that started in Tunisia in June 2015, Mali November 2015, Burkina Faso January 2016, and the Ivory Coast as responsibility of Government to contained or” as a function of the police, emergency services, the intelligence community, and the military. Though it is true that all public safety and national security resources play a vital role in combating terrorism, effectively preventing Terrorist attacks on mama Liberia requires everyone’s participation. From housewives and clergymen to waitresses, taxi driver, marketers, store clerks, and community leader, everyone plays an important role in preventing and responding to terrorist attacks.

By assessing the terrorist’s modus operandi, we can identify many observable activities or events that can indicate a potential terrorist attack. In the anti-terrorism community, these types of observable activities are referred to as “threat indicators.” Any notice of these activities should be reported to police and promptly investigated.

When many people think of suspicious activity, they tend to think of suspicious looking men entering and leaving an apartment, restaurant, and public gathering places football field, video club at unusual hours or overhearing words like “bomb” or “Islamic dress code” in a suspicious conversation. These types of public sightings have, on a number of occasions, led authorities to uncovering terrorist plots.

However, there are many other types of activities or circumstances that can suggest the potential for a terrorist attack. Most of these indicators relate to the terrorist’s gathering of target intelligence. The urgent need to provide funding for the intelligence community in Liberia cannot be overemphasis.

All terrorist operations are preceded by a process of intelligence gathering. This often involves conducting reconnaissance visits or stationary surveillance of a target for weeks or even months. Citizens are often in an excellent position to recognize threat indicators associated with target surveillance.

For example, a waitress in a dinner may notice that two men who come in every morning always request a seat by a certain window. The same two men stay for a long time and seem more interested in activity outside of the window than talking. Whenever they do talk, they become quiet when someone approaches their table or the men quickly change their topic of discussion.

This type of activity should be regarded as highly suspicious (especially if the window provides a view of an ideal terrorist target, such as a government building, shopping mall, or symbolic commercial building). People who loiter for very long periods of time, people who seem to take strolled.    

Landlords and owners of motels should also be aware of unusual activities involving their tenants, the tenants’ visitors and the motel guest. From previous intelligence report, these terrorist operating in West Africa have stayed at the local motels which are below the range of the security target.

This means, the prevention starts with your community/ neighbourhood and we all have a role to play in:

Encouraging Nationwide suspicious activity reporting initiative
Promoting neighbourhood orientation policing

And ensuring that security is everybody’s business; since the terrorist attack in our neighbouring countries did not use bomb, chemical or biological weapon but rather they used grenade and assault rifles to carry out their cowardice murder of innocent people. Some of these mentioned weapon used in the terrorist attack in our neighbouring countries are already being used in Liberia by armed robbers.

According to analysis from the previous incidents, these transnational jihadists are roaming in our region as a result of our poor border control system, and are recruiting hopeless young people radicalizing them into becoming terrorists.

Oldman Sam Saryon Sr., Liberian Businessman & Security Consultant
[email protected]