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Ezana Sehay 11/22/15

Terrorists are limited in their ability to project power and influence against the nation state. They don’t have huge armies, navy or air force capability – have no means to break through national defenses en mass.

This is a mixed blessing, because, if these murderers can’t project influence and power overtly within; they will do it surreptitiously from outside a country’s perimeters: they will concentrate on creating chaos from inside by employing infiltrators, saboteurs, and agents who lie among the population.

This is how the alleged ISIS foot-solders managed to execute the mass murder in Paris. Of course this is not the first time Paris fell victim to terrorism; ten months prior, terrorist murdered 11 people at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

At the end of the day, what should be a concern is what the intelligence might not be picking up.

Following that massacre security moved way up in the French political agenda. The government dramatically expanded its anti-terror programs; laws have been adopted, security forces have been given new powers - all to prevent another terror attack. And yet, despite all that vigilance and the security net around the country Paris could not be spared.                                                                                                                                         Evidently, What the Paris and other terrorist attacks prove is that terrorism is not a labor intensive act, it doesn’t take many terrorists to cause a lot of harm. In an action by no more than ten suicidal maniacs, in a span of few hours have murdered more than 129 innocent civilians and brought France to its knees and unnerved  the entire continent of Europe. The problems is as the securities of nations’ keep evolving so do the terrorists; and are able to crate public havoc by focusing on soft targets.

Much of the media is paying attention to the Paris attack, perhaps because of the European factor,  but it goes without saying, not a day passes without mass murder;  market, school, mosque bombing ... at some corner of the globe. In fact nations that somehow have developed the semblance of immunity to the terror pandemic are a minority. Among them is Ethiopia.

Is Ethiopia really safe? The fact that Ethiopia hasn’t faces a major terrorist attack in the last few years is not for luck of trying. It is thanks to the dedicated members of the country’s intelligence community being a step ahead of the terrorists.

Nevertheless there is always the need for improvement. Security experts concur it was the French intelligence failure that let the Paris attack took place. If a resource reach country like France fails to detect and prevent terrorist plots… what is the likely hood poor country like Ethiopia having security lapses?

Yes, the security agents have kept the country safe: Despite threats by different terrorist groups, their plots have been detected and disrupted. But also, on many occasions, some terrorists have come too close for comfort.

Which means at the end of the day what should be a concern is what the country’s intelligence might not be picking up.

That is why the nation’s security agency should constantly be changing and evolving. It should be given new law enforcement mechanism which basically gives it new or better tools to work with. Concurrently, there should be pro-active application of the criminal law – the government doesn’t have to wait for the terrorists to initiate and prosecute a plot.

In other words, Ethiopia needs to enhance its intelligence resources. Today intelligence has positioned as the central role in all aspects of every country’s national security. This unprecedented phenomenon arises as a response to every type of extremist ideology.

In its terrorist and criminal form, extremism is a serious security risk in Ethiopia as well. Even in its non-violent ideological form, it is a threat to the nation’s security, stability, peace, and tolerance, which it [extremism] seeks to overturn.

The scary thing is extremists and terrorist have developed tentacles with wide reach. Using electronic communication and simple organization, they can plot, recruit, and act… inflicting loss of life quite cheaply.

Obviously, the resources necessary to pursue the perpetrators, counter their vile messages and protect the society at large are very extensive. Moreover, since reliable overt channels of communication, is not feature of terrorist movements, governments are left uncomfortably dependent on intelligence as the primary, uncorroborated source of information for policy making.

On the face of it, while we remain in the digital world, this dependence would argue for further investments in security technological development and expansion of national intelligence budget. The intelligence agency would certainly need to continue to develop and safeguard its cryptographic capacity.

Beyond that however, a bigger bang for the buck is more likely to be attained from deploying existing capabilities more effectively: integrating intelligence products more closely with other aspects of policy, while at the same time ensuring its integrity.

The nation’s aim of containing, degrading and destroying terrorists is urgent and ambitious. Success depends to a considerable extent on building and maintaining intelligence assets on the ground. This means using Special Forces and training local and regional agents who can be deployed in combination with the national intelligence and the military.

Once the above base is laid, however, the focus should be to cut at the terrorist’s source, their poisonous propaganda stream, and disrupt the two-way flow of infiltrators [recruits].

Factors the allowed terrorist groups to execute catastrophic attacks – they require physical sanctuaries giving them time space and ability to perform competent planning and staff work, as well as opportunities and space to recruit, train and select targets. Al-Qaeda enjoyed such sanctuary in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen etc. ISIS has Iraq, Syria, and Libya etc. Anti-Ethiopian terrorists have Eritrean and Somalia.

It makes no sense, however, for the government to devote extra resources to overcoming the violent effect of extremism while neglecting to exploit intelligence available about the fundamental drives of the terrorists and their sponsors.

The flow will not stop until agencies in our neighboring counties have developed greater awareness of their domestic security scene are  willing to exchange of information with the Ethiopian security agency.  For the most part, Ethiopia has managed to acquire the cooperation of its neighboring countries except one [Eritrea].

The rogue Eritrean is in the business of sponsoring, facilitating and acting as a conduit to anti Ethiopian forces. It needs to be told it doesn’t have the right to do so and lease its territory to anyone willing to harm Ethiopia.  Furthermore, Ethiopia should exercise its rights to protect itself by striking potential targets inside Eritrea.

The ability to scan and collect data communications nevertheless remain vital, and the way forward cannot lie in blocking it, so much as ensuring that the legal framework is clear and accountability rigorous; that agents are tasked only to genuine priorities: and the process involved in producing and using intelligence are operated proportionately.  

And unless there is going to be whole sale resort to executive detention , which leads to create martyrs  and is ultimately unproductive, security agents must be trained to obtain evidence that is both usable in court and robust enough to obtain conviction.

Paradoxically, the more government succeeds in threat reduction and the less apparent the threat, the more onerous the accompanying invasion of privacy and constraints on civil liberties can seem.

Well, so be it. Every country irrespective its system of governance is employing the same methodology to safeguard its people. As a matter of fact countries like Ethiopia don’t even have the resources to implement the kind of surveillance entrapment employed by the western countries.

Notwithstanding, the claims by some hypocritical issue-advocacy western groups  -In a free society, only so much, the most important of which is to make sure we remain a free society. Even so, exercising some vigilance isn’t inimical to freedom. Clearing house once in a while can be very salutary.














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