The terrorism threat, the fate of Ghana

Although there is no scholarly or particular well-defined term for terrorism, the United Nations General Assembly criminalises the act by describing it as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, physiological, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

After the 9/11 incident, terrorist groups throughout the world have demonstrated their ability to evolve and improve their tactics, techniques, procedures and targets. As humans evolve, terrorist groups in the western part of the world have decided to expand their territories to the African continent.

They have decided to exploit thousands of extra continental migrants and interested persons from various African countries. Causing harm to civilians to fulfil the goals, they deem necessary.

Former Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden justified attacking American civilians by arguing that “as citizens of a democratic state who elected their leaders, they bore responsibility for their leaders’ actions. An ally to the United States of America is an enemy to the jihadists.

There has been a surge in terrorist attacks in many countries over the past few years.

According to data from the global terrorist index, terrorism deaths increased by 22 per cent to 8352 fatalities and deaths from terrorism are now at the highest level since 2017. However, the total number of terrorist attacks fell to 22 per cent recorded since 2009.

The number of countries that experienced at least one attack also fell from 60 in 2022 to 50 in 2023. The increase in terrorist attacks can be attributed to larger attacks, especially between various Islamic militant groups including Boko Haram in Nigeria, Islamic State (IS) and JMIN.

Unfortunately, Sub-Saharan has recorded the most terrorist attacks in 2023. However, most of the impact of terrorism is concentrated in the Sahel region.

I statically believe that it is a matter of time if no measures are taken before Ghana experiences terrorist attacks. Ghana is surrounded by countries that have experienced terrorist attacks over the past few years; Burkina Faso, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. Others like Mali, Benin and Nigeria are countries close to Ghana that have been attacked by terrorist groups. The three terrorist groups that have caused terror over the years are; Islamic State, Al- Shabaab and Boko Haram.

The attack perpetrated by a suicide bomber in Ivory Coast is a sign of danger to the coastal countries. It was then estimated by the National Security of Ghana that “Ghana and Togo were the next targets of terrorist attacks after the attacks in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

The attack on November 9, 2021, in Sanloaga in Togo confirmed that Ghana is indeed at greater risk of terrorist attacks. The porous nature of Ghana’s borders could cause great risk to the security of the country in the near future. The northern part of Ghana is at risk due to its proximity to Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is currently the country that’s most impacted by terrorism in the world.
Deaths surged from 1,135 in 2022 to 1,907 in 2023, a 68 per cent increase. This is the second consecutive year that over a thousand people were killed in terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso. It is estimated that a quarter of all terrorism deaths occurring globally were in Burkina Faso. It experienced the most terrorist attacks near the country’s borders with Niger and Mali. Civilians are mostly the targets of these outrageous attacks. Jamaat Nusrat Al Islam wal Muslimeen ( JNIM) and the Islamic State continue to be the most active terrorist groups in Burkina Faso. This resulted in a rise in the lethality of their attacks.

It is clear to me that a crucial factor that enables terrorist groups to gain a foothold in a country is poor local governance and infringement of human rights. These factors can be seen in the northern part of Ghana, where the local government fails to provide its citizens with basic social amenities such as both infrastructural and recreational facilities. Discrimination of second-generation Fulani herders is a common occurrence in Ghana.

When our Fulani brothers and sisters feel discriminated against, they become vulnerable to jihadist groups. Let’s not forget that the fulanis and jihadists perpetuating the African continent are all Muslims. if discriminated against, then they will seek protection from jihadists who share the same religious beliefs.

Even though the Ghanaian military with foreign assistance, may manage to detain or kill greater numbers of terrorists, they will continue to attract new fighters ( African youths) when local government remains unfavourable to them. 2024 is not a year to elect incompetent political leaders. Citizens should elect leaders who can lead them and respond to their needs and refrain from promoting leaders who seek power for their selfish interests. When the local government fails to provide basic social services to its people, it creates a gap which the jihadist groups use to their advantage. Jihadists provide them with social amenities. The current conflict in Bawku could be of great advantage to them. Terrorist groups use conflict between groups in countries to expand. They provide them with weapons or funds. Providing any of the two major ethnic groups, Kusasis and Mamprusi with weapons and funds could attract them.

Mind you, terrorist groups are financially capable. You wonder how they get financed? The Islamic State (IS) for instance has multiple revenue streams, including oilfields, extortion, taxation, ransom payments and donations from Gulf states. Yes, some terrorist groups are politically funded. Then why not destroy their source of income like the oil sector? Starving extremists of financing is no easy task, once they evolve from external reliance to internal self-sufficiency.

An American official in 2014 stated that the terrorist group, Islamic State pays its fighters around 400 USD which is equivalent to 5196.74 Ghana cedis. Just imagine a discriminated Fulani or an unemployed Ghanaian being offered a 5196.74 Ghana cedis monthly salary in a promisingly developed community. Not forgetting our national service personnel struggling with a 715.57 Ghana cedis monthly salary which in addition is not paid on time.

With 5 African countries listed among the ten countries most impacted by terrorism according to GTI ranks 2011-2023, the future of security in Africa is in its faint state. The impact caused by terrorism is unimaginable. How did Africa handle this? Is the Africa we have built after so many years of slavery going back to its former state? Is the war on terror in Africa insufficient?

It is time education as a means of combatting terrorism and extremism is considered in the junior high and secondary school curriculum. It should be understood that our youths are the most vulnerable to terrorism and extremism.

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