Terrorism: Redefining our Approach.

Insurgents and insurgencies have existed throughout world’s history,
ebbing and flowing in strategic significance in response to social
systems, of which almost every nation have had their share in the
course of forging an identity for themselves – and just like them; Our
Fatherland Nigeria is not an exception to this blight. Though, ours
can be likened to a mixed wine with different flavors from many
brands. We are at crossroads, and how we respond depends on the level
of situational awareness we have of the issue at hand.
There are definite strategies we have to employ; to win the war on
terror and create our desired society where unity and faith, peace and
progress shall reign. Insurgents and terrorists tend to be highly
adaptable and flexible, at least at the tactical and operational
levels of their evils. To match them, counterinsurgent mechanisms must
also be adaptable and quick to learn.
These insurgents are relatively strong – so our heads tells us. And
yes, perhaps because they easily scout new recruits to replace fallen
ones, or rather they seem resolute; determined and brutally wicked.
Ironically they continue to draw empathy, sympathy and support, and
alas justification for their evils. We need to contain them. And we
need to quell them. We need unrivaled peace. Terror is for the weak
The military must learn these terror cells, their tactics, logistics,
funds, operations, sympathizers both local and foreign. Also their
origin, and what sustains their campaign; in terms allies, imported
cash, weapons, manpower, experience, training and covert sponsors. It
is important to know from the insurgent’s perspective. To defeat an
enemy, you must know him well. For without any apologies, I do not
agree with those who argue these insurgents are ghosts, invisible,
unknown, imaginary and all the superficial attribution of an alien to
this enemy. It’s common sense to know that we will find it difficult
to triumph, when we see them as non destructible.
We must also factor in the locals here; they cannot be overemphasized
or brushed aside. They play important roles in insurgencies and their
counterinsurgent campaigns. Their support is strategic to both sides.
It is not their physical support that largely sustains the campaign,
but rather their political or emotional support. Our military should
develop an effects-based approach designed to fracture, delegitimize,
delink, demoralize, and de-resource insurgents. There is no single
approach in defeating a complex insurgency like the Boko Haram and, or
other sister terror groups. This requires a multidimensional approach
and intelligence gathering network from both the military and
civilians. We must win the locals, and everyone including the farmers.
For they are the system, they know it, live it and can surmount any
challenge than an ordinary military personnel sent on recon. They are
better informed and predisposed to any information. We must use them.
In fighting determined insurgents even the most effective methods,
sometimes the only effective method violates human and civil rights.
Nigeria must choose between sinking to the ethical level of the
insurgents or accept total anarchy defeat. In war there are no rules.
The only rule is to stay alive. We are at war with the insurgents and
we need to stay alive to win this war, both in mind and body.
Casualties are inevitable; this path is a necessary evil. For he who
wants nothing at all to do with evils at anytime must be an
adventurist or an aristocrat living in a utopian villa.

Persistency in insurgency arousing popular sympathy amongst certain
peoples and place must have a basis of genuine grievance if not
feigned, also structures and leaders to keep on with terror. To
succeed, our counterstrategy has to address the grievance – the root
cause itself, before anything else. If we know that Insurgent groups
can always disperse their forces, to make them smaller and more
difficult to attack, also acquire more secure communications; better
camouflage, and more effective diversions to counter measures by
government forces, what do we expect if we launch a military
offensive? Not much success, as we have seen. They continue to strike
at will and choice. We need to address the root causes rather, like
poverty, unemployment, provision of social amenities, forging a
national identity, human rights and good governance which involve
their provision for all in a timely and decentralized manner. Not just
Abuja alone and other major cities. Federal presence must be felt in
all our 36 states with much emphasis on staging grounds – the
northeastern states. Every individual region must have a stake in the
Nigerian Project.
We can not deny that these evildoers are also victims of these things
too. But theirs is foolhardy and cowardly. And in the long term, poor
governance can undermine a counterinsurgency effort by undermining
popular support for the government. Thus it is important to ensure
coordination between other actors involved in governance – the state,
and local governments. Disengaging the sympathetic support of a large
population is hard to achieve under our current engagement style.
Insurgents are often better able to build support networks and capture
territory in rural areas. That is where government needs to be.
The ability to electronically map and survey territories to monitor
insurgent sanctuaries and their support network is another critical
intelligence capability which would give us an edge over them. The
problem of destroying insurgent groups and their supporters is often
one of finding them. This is where intelligence comes into play.
Gaining access to reliable and actionable information is of paramount
importance. Every tip is important.
Insurgents’ ability to maintain sanctuary in neighboring countries can
also be lethal to a successful counterinsurgency effort. This has to
be curbed by monitoring movements and by enforcing border security and
also places where insurgents can gestate. The military and the
government need to utilize diplomatic and other means to encourage
neighboring states to stall recruitment campaigns for insurgents,
close training camps, and conduct a sustained counterinsurgency
campaign that undermines popular support for insurgents and capture or
kill leaders and guerrillas to demoralize them. We need competent
courts to prosecute insurgents, and terrorists. For effectively
prosecuting insurgents is critical to the success of any
counterinsurgency campaign. The failure to adequately deal with these
individuals undermines our counterinsurgency efforts.
Insurgents sometimes can make religion a significant part of their
rhetoric to gain popular support. We all need to demonstrate and
preach tolerance and patience in our worship centers. Inciting sermons
must be banned or censored altogether, and should not be heard playing
on loudspeakers in markets or other public space anywhere. Promoting
disorder is also a key objective for most insurgents – we can start by
uniting all peoples and bridging every lacuna. Because disrupting the
economy and decreasing security help produce discontent among the
government and undermine the strength and legitimacy of our government
– we must shun all attempts to heat the polity and guard our budding

Public perceptions of security can be an important indicator for
instance; public opinion polling can be adjusted to address
perceptions of corruption or judicial integrity. The media should be
more responsive and objective always must be on the side of good
against evil in their reportage. There is no point in glorifying these
insurgents or their activities with front page headlines. If we
presume they do not read or listen to news. At least their sponsors
do. Do not feed their egos. Starve them of information.
There is need to secure the authority of state: by protecting our
government buildings and symbols, military facilities and
installations, police structure and infrastructure, and law
enforcement capabilities. Collecting information through patrols,
surveillance, and interaction with the local population – the civilian
JTF is commendable on this because they know the population and
terrain better than the military do, and are more familiar with the
social and cultural conditions. There should be synergy between our
forces and these volunteer groups.

These groups are not to be pitied at all. Since all avenues to resolve
the menace and bring them to table has woefully and unfortunately
failed in every aspect. Their coordinated efforts to topple a
legitimate government, has undoubtedly led to varying degrees of
extremities. We must all rise up to the challenge! No more slumber,
and no more committees! All hands must be ready, and we are those
hands – not just the military and the government. In this light, our
continued reliance on short-term cures, strategic medicines,
futuristic technologies, and military expeditions represents a failure
to understand the past or the direction of the future. God’s willing
we shall triumph over this phase of our collective history. Peace to
all those who died while we all slept.

The writer is a Concerned Nigerian, who still has Great Faith in Nigeria.
Follow him on http://www.twitter.com/@aklis_01

Photo Credits: frontpagemaq.com


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