The word terrorism has become widespread after the 9/11 attack on the TWINE TOWER at world trade centre in the USA.

IMG-20160506-WA0028Terrorism is not new and even though it has been used since the early times of recorded history, it can be relatively hard to define terrorism.

According to International Terrorism and Security Research, Terrorism has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. Obviously, it depends on how you view it.

Threats from terrorism persist and will continue to evolve till the end of the World. Today’s Terrorism threats do not come from any one individual or group. They may be originated in far away countries, neighbouring countries or local communities.

Today, Terrorist groups use sophisticated Internet and media network system to communicate, recruit, train, rally support, brainwash, and spread their diabolical plans without risking personal contact. In fact many of their formulas for home-made-bombs or explosives are sent via their internet network system.

Terrorists may use various forms of explosives that may be as simple as a home-made bomb or as sophisticated as a biological threat or any other forms.

In our part of the world, where lack of security consciousness has been an issue that we have been confronted with, the perception is that the work of fighting terrorism is solely the responsibility of the governments and the work must be done by security agencies, and the military.

But there are practical things that ordinary citizen can do to make a significant difference in preventing, defend or defeating terrorism. Government and Security agencies alone cannot fight Terrorism without the help of the Citizenry.

Protecting Ghana from any form of Terrorists attack is a shared responsibility and every Ghanaian ought to contribute by staying informed and aware of the threats the country faces.

Our fight against terrorism in our country greatly depends on both security agencies and public engagement. I believe that Community vigilantes, Civil Society Originations, Political Parties, Business organisations, Churches and Mosques, as well as Traditional leaders must be engaged on the front lines of detection and prevention of terrorism in our beloved Country.

As the saying goes ‘’Prevention is better than cure’’ it is better we do everything possible to prevent such a dastardly acts from happening before we say ‘ooh my God!, Ghanaians must be educated that early recognition and reporting of potential terrorist activities is the first line of defence against any attacks.

For me, I strongly believe that the first line of prevention and defence against any terrorist attacks is to educate and sensitise citizenry on how to identify suspicious behaviours or potential terrorist activities, so that we are able to recognise such activities and report them to the security agencies.

Ghanaians must always be aware of what is going on around them and be on the lookout for suspicious activities. Whether travelling, at work, at home, in church or mosque, at school, Shopping mall, sports stadium, Political party rallies, or around their own neighbourhood.

Property owners and landlords must also play a crucial role by conducting background checks on their tenants before they rent their property to them.

As a concerned citizen, interested in security and Intelligence matters, I would like to share the following key points with you so that we may learn to recognize the different activities that lead up to a terrorist attack, by so doing, we can report them to the appropriate authorities and possibly prevent such an attack from taking place.

Fear and Panic-

Terrorists try to create fear and panic by rehearsing their action steps and placing their members into positions for practice in order to ensure that their plan will be successful when carried out. They often send rumours that have security concerns to the public and perform multiple trials, without actually committing a terrorist act just to test the reaction of the security agencies and the people in that locality. For example, They (wanton destroyers) can place a fire cracker in a dust bin in a shopping mall or at lorry stations and turn round to shout that there is an explosion and see how the security agencies and the community will react.

Surveillance –

Terrorists often study and visit their potential target site first. They move into the area to monitor the daily activities especially security procedures. They sometimes write notes, record and monitor the routines of the target (say, VRA, ECG substations, Presidential Palace, stadia etc.), They normally survey their places of interest by carrying video equipment, still cameras, drawing diagrams, drawing maps, possessing topographical sheets of the site or other observation devices,

If you see someone doing something like that, or loitering near sensitive sites, restricted area or security zones especially if you have never seen him/her before in your area, please do not hesitate to report to the police. They will conduct their investigation and if the suspicious person or persons are innocent and their activities are done legally, you have caused no harm by reporting them.

Impersonation-

In order to collect information on their targets, terrorist may impersonate people as a means to get access or study the daily routine of the community .These people can impersonate prominent personalities in the society like a Police officer, Parliamentarian, Minister, Presidential staffer, MCE etc,. They dress to suit particular situation to avoid any suspension. They sometimes drive in expensive cars with fake stickers of some of the state’s personalities on it and act as if they are such personalities to beat security check points.

For this reason, any theft or misplacement of uniforms, badges or credentials that may be used to impersonate Security personnel, prominent personalities like Traditional leaders, pastors etc., should also be reported

Suspicious and unnecessary Questioning –

Terrorists almost always try to gain information about operations, staffing and security of the target organisation or facility. They may ask questions by coming to the area personally or questions may be asked by email, Facebook, whatsAPP, instagram or, even on phone. They ask unnecessary questions to find out how some machines are operated or movement of the organization’s top brass, all in an effort to use information gathered to calculate their time to strike.

Employers should try, as much as possible, to conduct proper background checks or qualifications of applicants before they hire them, especially youth recruitments agencies.

Tests of Security Rapidity –

Terrorist may try to test security by trying to gain entrance to restricted security zones e.g. recently damaged areas that are not permitted to general public. They do this in an attempt to test the reaction of the public and measure the time it will take the security personnel to arrive at the scene.

Sometimes they can place an object in places where many people do business such as Markets, lorry stations, or Schools and alarm the Security and the public just as a means to test the rapidity of the security. They can sometimes behave as if they are mad or insane and force their way through an unauthorised zones in order to see what the security and public reaction would be.

Funding and Remittances –

Terrorist not only raise money, they also transfer and spend it in ways that don’t attract attention. In view of that Financial Institutions and TELCO cash transfer points must watch out for unusually large cash transactions or exchanges for large amounts especially from various sources directed to a single person or group -and report them to the police.

Acquiring Supplies and Improvised Explosive Device –

Terrorists need a range of supplies to carry out an attack. They can obtain explosives or weapons, or purchase a large amount of chemicals and electronics devises to make crudely homemade bomb or Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

Some Chemicals can legally be acquired in the markets and are available in various forms and have a wide range of usage, storage and can be transported without any hindrance. These chemicals can be easily converted to homemade bombs and form the charge (explosive) of the IED, For instance calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser, urea, nitric acid, aluminium powder, potassium chlorate, peroxides and others, could be easily purchase by Terrorists in the local market to make deadly explosives to cause harm to lives and property.

Additionally, electronic gadgets like used mobile phones, remote-control devices (garage openers, car security alarms etc.) used to detonate the main charge are also easily obtainable in local markets and may be used by terrorists to create the initiator (fuse) for IEDs.

It is important to realize that Terrorists are somebody’s neighbours, family member, co-workers, friend or relative. As a Nation, our safety depends on all of us, irrespective of our political, ethnics, educational, religious or financial background. We must do everything in our power to be vigilant and report suspicious behaviours and activities as stated above to the Police, regardless of the intimate relationship we may have with the people we suspect.

Source: Paul Coonley Boateng
Esaase-Dunkwa on Offin
Upper Denkyira East
0546497713 ([email protected])

The author is a fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar-Austria

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