Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Nigeria's Minister of Defence Bemoans 'Foreign Fighters' Phenomenon To Boko Haram, Global Terrorism

Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd.)
The Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd), has raised the alarm over the growing influence of foreign fighters in the ranks of Boko Haram group as well as other similar groups all over the world, and called for a united effort to tackle the menace.

Gusau stated this on Monday during the opening of the four-day Defence Advisers/Attaches (DAs) annual conference 2014 tagged: ‘Re-engineering the Nigeria Defence Attache System Towards Enhanced National Security’, at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Abuja.

He said tackling the contemporary security challenges championed by non-state actors like Boko Haram was becoming more complex with the introduction of foreign fighters to execute brutal terrorist acts against the local populace of their host countries.

The minister noted that these terrorists, which are increasingly becoming inter-connected, inter-linked and global in nature, in a bid to create Caliphates, had committed gruesome acts against humanity, particularly on Nigerians in the North-eastern part of the country.

According to him, “The global security environment remains shaky and unstable; small groups and small countries are the focus of instability and inhumanity which arrest world attention.

“The new and ugly face of global terrorism is marked by execution, extreme brutality, impunity and abductions in different regions of the world, and as  the surge of terrorism persists, the perpetrators share a common agenda to unleash terror, mayhem, destruction and instability around the world.

“There is no doubt that the foreign fighters have added a troubling dimension to this emerging phase of terrorism, from targeted attack by one group a few years ago, we now have a mobile band of thousands of terrorists sweeping across the areas, destroying lives and even attempting to establish Caliphates.

“The destructive effect of terrorism are enormous, over the past few years, and also,Nigeria has been and is still confronting the threats forced by religious extremists to peace and stability predominantly in the North-eastern part of our country. The cost are high, several people have been killed, all communities razed and hundreds of persons kidnapped.”

To over come this, Gusau called for the reappraisal of the country’s defence and security strategy in line with the emerging security challenges, adding that the process for reviewing the National Defence Policy had commenced.

Taken together, the global and domestic security environment, the minister noted, it is imperative to bridge the intelligence gap against the terrorists and that Nigeria re-engineers her defence and security posture to cope with the threats.

According to him, “The DIA system has a duty to help bridge the intelligence gaps and knowledge of the terrorist groups, the foreign source of support, training, weapons, funding and the flow of foreign fighters, a natural element of re-engineering process is the review of the national defence policy which has commenced.

“The importance of this conference is the avenue it provides for the DIA to evaluate its performance to improve operations, to set goals, to design policy and to develop strategy for effectiveness of the adviser attaché systems.

“Nigeria’s national security frame work depends on you, as the vanguard of efforts to build a bridge of peace and prosperity between Nigeria and the nations that you are accredited to,” he said.

Speaking further, Gusau expressed optimism that, the problem of insecurity in the country is surmountable, only, “if the collective efforts of our security agencies and the defence advisers system are harnessed for this purpose.

He emphasised the fact that “changes in the global security environment since the end of the cold war has expanded the scope of the DA’s from mere liaison with allied powers, monitoring of military developments and the gathering of intelligence,” saying that “currently, the DA’s are charged with the key role in the national defence policy such that DA’s now have to contend with issues as diverse as defence and security sector reforms, in democratizing countries, of conflict peace support and civil emergency operations and terrorism.”
Given the broad range of relationships and the roles of DAs, he added, many countries had reshaped their DA system to meet contemporary security challenges.

“Some countries have shifted from liaison and gathering of intelligence to defence diplomacy. Evidently the dynamics of the shift to defence diplomacy places more demands on you if the country is to ride the benefits of this broad approach, the primary role you play as defence attaché is the cross road of diplomacy, strategy, economy, and public relations which you must execute as professionals”, he urged.

In the same vein, the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Vice Admiral Gabriel Okoi, said the conference was aimed towards better intelligence gathering for effective counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operation, especially from the neighbouring countries with contiguous borders.

“We expect that after the conference the DAs will be able to meet towards better intelligence gathering, especially from our neighbouring countries where we have insecurity challenges that is, Boko Haram sect that is going on in the North East.  We are trying to restratagise to see how we can do better than what we are doing”, Okoi noted.

He said: “The increasing threat posed to our national security by non-state actors particularly the Boko Haram Sect coupled with increasing violence and attendant losses of lives and property require a continuous reappraisal of our operational methods of intelligence gathering to stem emerging security challenges.”

“The theme for this year’s conference, which is: ‘Re-Engineering the Defence Attaches System Towards Enhanced National Security’ was carefully selected to guide our deliberations and contributions to the current efforts at addressing the security challenges bedeviling our country and create an atmosphere for sustainable national security and development,” he added.

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