The terrorist attacks which shook France for 72 hours between January 07th and January 9th, 2015, transposed in a rough way on the French territory, the horror lived in sub-Saharan Africa by the populations and the powerless states. Indeed, the balance of the attack is heavy, 3 shot down terrorists, 17 dead victims, about 20 wounded persons and the affected millions of French, all this in 3 days. Only the sporadic attacks of Boko Haram in Nigeria can boast about such macabre balance which very often are heavier. It is not only the macabre discount which has to prevail here, in consideration of the multiple victims of the terrorism in the world, but also the symbol which was scoffed! Yes, it is France, country of human rights, country embodying the freedom of expression which was quite hard struck by radicalism and intolerance. Charlie Hebdo embodied this vital freedom certainly lively and raw by moment but authentic. These attacks made several victims but could we think that freedom of speech would be the target of terrorist acts?
Africa is not unfortunately outdone in this ” inhumanity of terror “, the continent undergone with violence and powerlessness the repeated assaults by several terrorist groups which are mainly, AQMI (branch of Al-Qaeda), Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. There also, the macabre discount is without appeal: we reach 15000 deaths to this day (from 2000 till 2014)! According to the Institute for Economics and Peace ( IEP), in its 2014 Global Terrorism Index, those 3 groups are among the 10 most active, violent and murderous terrorist organizations since their creation. As an example, from 2002 till 2013, Boko Haram, with about 10000 men, conducted 750 attacks in Nigeria, with a macabre discount of 3500 deaths, on the basis of a religious extremism ,which translates the will to establish an Islamist state (unconditional application of the Sharia in Nigeria).
Other international indexes come to consolidate the IEP Global Terrorism Index, in particular the AEGIS Advisory 2015 Strategic Risk Outlook and also GEOS 2014 Risk Map. Both, GEOS and AEGIS are specialized in country-risk classification and in strategic intelligence.
Having made this alarming observation, we are not going to come back on the causes, nor on the modus operandi (lone wolves, conventional attacks, kidnappings, hostage taking, cyber-attacks, etc.) of these terrorist groups, which have moreover their specificities both in the ideological and the operational approaches, but we are going to identify a strategy for a regional, coherent and inclusive response to the permanent threat of religious extremism.
Indeed, it is the sketch of a multidimensional strategy that we advise, to thwart better the expansion of terrorist ideology on the continent, while taking for model, the military operations theatre which is characterized by several fronts. So our multi-form strategy, takes into account simultaneously 8 fronts:
1/ The ideological front: terrorism draws its strength from an ideology of religious extremism. The “Sharia” is the classic model which attracts many candidates. The west is presented as ” the wound ” and the Islamist radical movements are the cure to this “wound”. It would be thus convenient, to beat terrorism on its favourite ground which is ideology. The African societies almost quite westernized, have to create for their youth a viable and pragmatic ideological alternative to avoid the attraction of radicalism. It is the introduction of an ideal of life, that will allow to make the difference between terrorism and democracy. The African countries thus owe within a short space of time, to set up multidisciplinary committees asked to think about this societal ideal (a model of African democracy), which could make young people dream, give them opportunities and so divert their attention from religious obscurantism.
2/ The front of the development: at this level, it is a question of setting up tools which will allow to contain the attractiveness of terrorism. Indeed, the strong rate of impoverishment and illiteracy of these African societies, constitutes a melting pot for the recruitment of young people, in the middle of an identity crisis and in search of marks. We thus suggest, an urgent implementation, of the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) measures , in every concerned country. Besides, it is important, to involve the civil society in this debate for an inclusive and participative response. Every African country could create at the community level, a prevention committee of sectarian drifts stemming from the diversion of Islam. Better, the creation of local watch and sensitization committees in every village of the threatened or border countries, would be a main advantage. These local committees would stress the sensitization of young people as for the risks of religious toughening and would serve as early warning devices.
3/ The military front: here, it is a question of striking militarily all the terrorist groups at their heart. Still it is necessary, that the African armies are equipped and trained for such an option. Having said that, a joint answer for example, at the level of ECOWAS with the support of the western countries could allow to weaken the terrorist threat in the sub-region, following the example of the backward movement of AQMI in Mali (at least of its weakening). At this level, it would be necessary in every African country, to create as a matter of urgency units specialized in the in-depth action (special forces) to act in a surgical and effective way against these groups. The air or logistic support of western countries would be ideal. We recommend as a sub-regional answer (ECOWAS), the creation of a mixed elite unit based on the French GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) or the US SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), to mutualize the resources of the African countries in this merciless fight. So you should not ignore, the capitalization of decisive experience of a country as Chad which demonstrated its operational and tactical capacities to face these groups. Finally, the outsourcing of the fight against terrorism, remain a complementary option, to halt the advance or the nuisance of these groups. This outsourcing would materialize for any country in the region, by the use of Private Military Companies (PMCs) likely to have the necessary skills and adequate equipment.
4/ The intelligence front: intelligence is at the heart of the fight against terrorism in Africa. It is a question for African countries, to consult at the sub-regional level in order to mutualize and share the necessary means to this end. Besides, most of those countries display a deficit in intelligence for which they pay a very high price. It would be thus wise, to polarize the efforts around a sub-regional synergy for intelligence. There also, the western support through training and logistics, would be an asset. Finally, national capacity building regarding strategic intelligence, remains the keystone of this terrorist problem.
5/ The religious front: the unprecedented mobilization of the Muslim communities in Africa, is more than necessary to denounce religious radicalism and its consequences which also strike Muslims. Moreover, there is only one Islam and many extremist Islamist aberrations. It is these abuses which must be denounced, because they negatively affect this noble religion. This option can seem utopian, because many African societies are already eroded by religious sectarian aberrations and thus avoid the sensible subject.
6/ The legislative front: this chapter is certainly one of the most important, because it concerns the revision of the legal arsenal of the African countries, to adapt it to the terrorist threat. Indeed, the national legislations have to evolve, so as to incorporate in a coherent and realistic way, provisions that would facilitate the intervention of security and defence forces in the fight against terrorism.
7/ The international front: an international cooperation is more than vital, to allow the African countries to prevent and push back terrorism. The support in capacity building, in training and in logistics would be the basis of this stronger anti-terrorist cooperation.
8/ The financial front: finally, this last aspect of our strategy, determines almost our whole proposal, because the sinews of war remains money. We recommend that the African countries, organize discreet national and international fund raising for the antiterrorist fight, following the example of the fight against Ebola, which mobilized donors. Of this financial solidarity will depend the outcome of the anti-terrorist struggle.
In conclusion, the fight against terror, in order to push it back or why not annihilate it (ideal), constitutes the world major priority today. It would be thus convenient for the African countries, to take advantage of this upsurge of international solidarity and consciousness, to strengthen their national strategies and so contribute actively to this struggle for freedom and democracy. A multidimensional and joint strategy is thus imperative to reach that goal.