Writes: Ken Ramani
At a recent regional conference of chiefs of intelligence and security held in Khartoum, Sudan President Omar el Bashir called for the proper definition of the term terrorism
He argued that the current definition was relative and blurred to a point of causing friction among nations in the fight against terrorism.
Sudan’s Second Vice-President Osman Taha called for the removal of the country’s name from the United States’ list of sponsors of international terrorism.
Sudan has previously been accused of hosting Osama bin Laden
, a suspected mastermind of the 1998 terror attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.
Khartoum has also suffered America’s wrath, which saw its pharmaceutical plant hit by smart missiles on suspicion that it was being used to manufacture biological weapons, a claim Washington is yet to prove to date.
Osama, the defacto leader of the al-Qaeda Network
, has become a walking nightmare to the terror-paranoid West. Despite the existence of 12 international Conventions Against Terrorism, there is no globally–accepted definition as countries continue to disagree over the politically-correct meaning of terrorism.
The United Nations says international terrorism and transnational organised crime are closely interrelated and connected, for example, through trafficking of drugs and arms, and money laundering. To the UN, a comprehensive programme to counter international terrorism would be more effective if it was coordinated with the struggle against transnational organised crime.
The African Union
Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, however, defines a terrorist act as any act which is in violation of the criminal laws of a State and which may endanger the life, physical integrity or freedom of, or cause serious injury or death to, any person...or may cause damage to public or private property, natural resources, environmental or cultural heritage...."
The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the self-appointed global policeman — the United States of America and its sidekick, Britain — amounted to an act of terrorism, in the strictest sense of the term, but the two countries won’t accept such definition! The two powers invaded Iraq on the pretext of destroying its suspected weapons of mass destruction.
If truth be told, Washington and London’s main intention was to oust Saddam Hussein
, whom they regarded as a threat to their economic interests in the Gulf.
But when patriotic Iraqis took up weapons to liberate their country from American and British occupation, Washington and London justified their presence by claiming they were there to fight terrorism.
The two countries have since abandoned the line of argument of weapons of mass destruction and stuck with the purported "war on terrorism" against Iraqi freedom fighters.
This takes me back to President Bashir’s dilemma as to what, actually, is terrorism?
The destruction of Afghanistan by Americans five years ago is still fresh in our memories. Currently, Washington and London marines are committing serious human rights and war crimes in Iraq with abandon.
How the war on terror has been, and is being fought, has left many observers wondering what became of the West’s claim to respect of human rights.
Analysts argue that the resentment in the Arab world over the way Iraq and other Muslim countries have been treated has complicated the war on terror.
It has made Osama’s al Qaeda Network look like the only formidable body that, after the former Soviet Union and Saddam’s Iraq, can stand up to the US and smoke out its marines the region.
This would perhaps explain why few, if any, Arabs are willing to volunteer information on terrorist agents to the US, an arrogant and powerful country seen as only interested in installing regimes that will guarantee its continued exploitation of oil in the Gulf.
Closer home, it is not far-fetched to argue that terrorism still remains one of the main threats to the security, stability and well-being of regional countries. Countries perceived to be satelites of US and British interests are at a greater risk.
The terrorists have the determination and capacity to strike high profile targets anywhere, anytime, using newer and lethal means.
As the September 11, 2001, and recent attacks in Britain confirmed, no country is immune to acts of terror.
Experts point out that terrorism and transnational organised crime thrive in Africa, more so in the anarchic Horn and Great Lakes region.
A recent report titled "Why Fighting Crime Can Assist Development in Africa" by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) blames this on the vast geographical region and proximity to the Middle East and South-Asia.
The Middle East is perceived to be the epicentre of planning, training and funding terrorism as well as source of hard drugs.
The preponderance of Western interests in Africa has been both a blessing and curse to the continent.
The many European facilities and installations in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa have become attractive and soft targets of belligerent groups.
It would make a lot of sense if the US and its partners in the war against terrorism changed strategy.
Bombing innocent civilians in the Middle East is drawing poor African countries into fighting the West’s own wars on our soil.Like WWI, WWII and the Cold War, Africa is again being used to fight other people’s wars.
This is so because terror groups have little capacity to stage massive terror attacks in Western countries, compared to Africa — with its porous borders and poor mechanism to detect terror activities.
If our Parliament passes the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill, Kenya will be one of the few countries to effect anti-terrosim laws in Africa.
The country will also benefit from the logistical support of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a UN initiative to curb terrorism.
A pledge to fight terrorism is one of the 12 protocols that the Heads of State of ICGLR are expected to sign in Nairobi in December.
However, the regional countries making up ICGLR will have to overcome certain challenges for the initiative to succed. This is in recognition of the fact that although the countries subscribe to various sub-regional organisations, there is need to formulate mechanisms for cooperation to counter terrorism.
The Khartoum Declaration, in which chiefs of security and intelligence from 16 East African countries pledged to share information on terrorism activities, could be the best way to fight the threat, at least for now.
As Kenya’s chief spy Wilson Boinnet said, it is time to leave the seminar benches and be ready to engage true terrorists in street combat.
To me, the US and British soldiers in Iraq are worse than the faceless terrorists they are fighting.The writer is a public relations officer in Nairobi, Kenya. Article was originally published in The East African Standard Comment below and/or discuss this article at: Club Afrika Forums Read more Africa related artcles at: Club Afrika Portal Recommend Club Afrika to your friend: Click Here Invite your friend to Club Afrika Forums: Click Here