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‘Terrorism is not too far away from home’

-Says Justice Minister

September 9, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Minister of Justice and Anthony General has stated that terrorism was not too far away from Sierra Leone as the country continues to experience exponential increase in the activities of click gangs, which he said, has a semblance of domestic terrorism.

Minister Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara was yesterday speaking at the Kingtom Senior Police Officers Mess in Freetown while delivering the keynote address at the validation workshop on the draft bill of Counter-Terrorism, organized by the Central Intelligence and Security Unit (CISU), Office of National Security.

He said in September 11, 2001 when terrorist attacked America, president George Bush questioned as to why they were targeted, while victims of the said attack wondered as to what were the sins they committed for them to have  suffered such inhuman act.

“Terrorism is not too far away from home as I monitor the growth of click activities which is a sign of domestic terrorism in the country. Those are the things we have to start acting on immediately, particularly in the western area. More attention should be paid to that area by the security apparatus of this country,” he said.

He added that whenever he reviews case files, one thing that was bordering him most was the increase in the number of murder cases, adding that every two weeks somebody must mourn in Freetown as a result of persistent murder incidences.

He said he was happy that the Sierra Leone Police was part of the workshop, stating that every citizen deserves police protection and reiterated that the activities of click groups were related to terrorism.

He further called on the need for a constructive engagement because the battle against terrorism cannot be won in the battle field alone, and that they needed to open up their minds and work collaboratively and embark on constructive engagement.

He said movement of people across borders has become more worrisome and that such can be used as an easy means for terrorists to attack the country, stating that the activities of terrorist were on the increase and that Sierra Leone should be worried.

He said terrorism is an act aimed at causing serious bodily harm, coupled with the destruction of properties and cited some of the inimical incidences of stabbing and killing, and burning of houses during riot especially in bye-elections as forms of terrorism.

He said the draft bill was a welcoming news and that they would work together to see that the propose Bill was fully implemented.

Director General of the Central Intelligence and Security Unit (CISU), Office of National Security (ONS), Ansumana Mohamed Idress, said threat from global terrorism posed one of the greatest security challenges to states and that Sierra Leone was no exception to such a threat.

He said terrorism continues to evolve as it has become more complicated and difficult to understand.

He said the emergence of the Islamic State terrorist group has considerably changed the terrorism landscape, especially in the use of social media to radicalize lone wolves.

He said the hegemonic and power rivalry between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State as the most potent global terrorist franchise has led to various forms and irregular incidences of successful terrorism attacks, causing further uncertainty about the dimensions.

He recalled that in February, 2012,coinciding with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed  Forces deployment with AMISOM in Somalia, the Al-Shabaab terrorist group threatened retaliatory terrorist attacks on all troop contributing counties to AMISOM forces in Somalia.

He said an assessment of Al-Shabaab’s ability to deliver on its threats as occasioned in July sport Pub bombing in Kampala, Uganda- killing 74 and wounding many others, May attacks in Djibouti killing three people and wounding 11, September 2013 Westgate Mall, the April Garissa University attacks in Kenya, killing 67 and 148 respectively led to the strengthening of the security sector in Sierra to prevent any future attack.

He said since 2013, various efforts were made to implement portions of the Counter Terrorism Strategy by various stakeholders but their efforts were interrupted by the outbreak of the Ebola in 2014.

Also speaking, Director, Office of National Security, Ishmael Tarawaly said the validation workshop was important especially  at a time when the threat of terrorism was moving from North Africa to West Africa Sub-region.

He said there have been so many terrorist attacks in countries like Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Nigeria and that they were not predicting that Sierra Leone could be the next target, but that it could be an early warning for them to put in place proactive measures for any future attempt.

Representing the Inspector General of Police, Head of Police Operations, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Al-Sheik Kamara said the issue of terrorism was a national security issue and that he was very happy to be part of the meeting.

He said terrorists have targeted embassies, security forces and agencies, and universities in Africa, adding that terrorists were becoming bolder and more constructive in their operations and that Sierra Leone should be aware.

“If any attack happens in Sierra Leone, we will not blame the terrorists because they have sent open letters to all countries that are sending troops to Somalia. We have been sending troops to Somalia and if we allow any attack on the country, we would have ourselves to blame,” he said.

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