|NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Attendees of the regional countering violent extremism conference stand in silent tribute for those who lost their lives in fighting against terrorism during the regional countering violent extremism conference in Nairobi. President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed not to relent in the war against terrorism, saying bold and co-ordinated actions from international community were critical to eliminate violent extremism. XINHUA PHOTO - SUN RUIBO|
|'war against terrorism'|
|NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Security ministers from African states have resolved to revitalize the war against terrorism to strengthen peace, stability and sustainable development.The ministers pledged new and decisive measures to defeat terrorism in a communique adopted late Saturday during the closure of a regional conference on countering violent extremism held in Nairobi.|
Kenya’s minister for internal security Joseph Nkaissery said African countries will strengthen cooperation to reboot counter- terrorism measures.
"Violent extremism has gained foothold in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and northern Africa region.
"Terrorists seek to harm our cherished ideals while reversing the latest socio-economic progress in the continent," said Nkaissery.
Dozens of African security ministers, diplomats and scholars attended the regional conference on countering violent extremism in Nairobi.
There was a consensus on the need for African states to share best practices that would neutralize the military and ideological strength of militant groups.
"We are grappling with one of the most potent threat to the survival of nation states.
"Terrorists are training their guns on civilians to cause fear and despondency.
"We must therefore enhance our tactical approach to this enemy," Nkaissery told African security ministers at the closing ceremony.
He added that regional forums will reignite the war against terrorism through sharing of best practices to root out push factors like youth unemployment, governance lapses and weak policing.
Countries in the East and Horn of Africa require a joint strategy to combat terrorism effectively.
The Ugandan minister for internal affairs, Aronda Nyakayirima stressed that regional cooperation in defense and outreach programs is key to counter the spread of violent ideologies.
Both Uganda and Kenya have borne the brunt of 'al-Shabaab' mayhem after the East African nations deployed their troops to Somalia to root out the militants.
Nyakayirima noted that robust intelligence sharing and surveillance at the ports of entry have foiled terror plots in the region.
Terrorist groups have exploited a vacuum created by civil strife and collapse of nation states to cause havoc.
The Libyan Undersecretary for interior, Mostafa Dabashe noted that franchises of major terrorist networks like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have flourished in strife torn Sahel and North African region.
"Countries engulfed in civil disorder have provided a bleeding ground for militants.
"Terrorists will find it difficult to thrive in states that are stable, cohesive and economically vibrant," Dabashe said.
African countries will implement the recommendations endorsed at the Nairobi conference to re-invent the war against terrorism.
Kenyan Principal Secretary for internal security, Ambassador Monica Juma said a taskforce comprising experts from different countries will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.
"We have just kicked off a multifaceted dialogue to find alternative and more sustainable ways to fight violent extremism in the continent," Juma said.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Friday, June 5, 2015
MINNEAPOLIS – Law enforcement and community leaders in Minnesota have seen this before: Young Somalis traveling abroad to fight under the banner of a terrorist organization.
But while it can be tempting to compare a recent round of would-be jihadis attempting to join the Islamic State group's campaign in the Middle East to previous instances of Somalis leaving to fight for al-Shabab in Somalia, key differences have made countering the extremist pull this time around all the more difficult.
"Back in 2006 and '07, 20 young men left here to join al-Shabab. We don't approve it. It was wrong," says Sadik Warfa, deputy director of Global Somali Diaspora, a nonprofit with offices in London and Minneapolis that aims to empower Somali communities outside their homeland. "But if you put [it in] context, you could understand why they had left here, because Ethiopia is the archenemy of Somalia. Sometimes you see that nation calling you to defend it."
Previously, young men who left Minnesota – home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. – to join al-Shabab were largely drawn to the fight in Somalia in response to an invasion by Ethiopia in 2006. They numbered between 20 and 25, says Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis Division.
Somalia had been a failed state since civil war ravaged the country in the early 1990s, leading many of its residents to seek asylum in the U.S. The absence of an effective government in the country also allowed terrorist groups to thrive, and made neighboring Ethiopia nervous that the precarious security situation would spill across its borders.
When Islamic militants seized the Somali capital of Mogadishu in 2006, Ethiopia – with U.S. support – decided to act.
J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, says the Ethiopians felt they couldn't let the militants continue to gain influence in Somalia, but that it's a common misconception to link the rise of al-Shabab – which has been linked to al-Qaida and is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. – to the invasion.
"There's no doubt that the Ethiopian intervention helped Shabab gain a nationalist narrative," Pham says. "The fact is al-Shabab and its precursor groups have existed for quite some time, for more than a decade, before the Ethiopians invaded."
Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali community activist and independent analyst in Minnesota, says the population there felt reverberations from the invasion.
"That created a huge outcry in the Somali community in Minnesota," Abdulahi says. "It's just humiliating for Somalis to be able to see their archfoe drive down tanks of whatever remained of downtown Mogadishu at the time. So there was actually a genuine nationalistic sense in the Somali community where everybody said, 'OK, this is a time to stand up and do something.'"
The Somali leaders say joining al-Shabab out of a sense of duty to defend Somalia isn't defensible, but those that did at least had some connection to the fight happening in their homeland. The Islamic State group, however, is operating mainly in Iraq and Syria, and its appeal is less comprehensible to those who oppose the group's extremist ideology.
"This is something that is unacceptable … We are still very confused why these kids are attracted to it," Warfa says. "Because Syria and Iraq, they have no border with Somalia, and it's a faraway land."
In April, six Somali-Americans from Minneapolis were arrested for attempting to join the Islamic State group. Federal authorities said two of the men were arrested in San Diego, from where they had intended to travel to Mexico and then to Syria. The other four were arrested in Minnesota.
Thornton, whose FBI office is responsible for investigating those in Minneapolis believed to be interested in joining terror organizations, says the Islamic State group is taking advantage of social media communication and using peer-to-peer recruitment, in which those who have already left to join the terrorist organization work to convince friends that they should travel to fight as well.
The Islamic State group doesn't offer a "nationalistic pull" for Somalis, he says. But the extremists are much more "sophisticated" than al-Shabab when it comes to propaganda and public relations.
"The [Islamic State group] piece is a combination: It's people in Minnesota talking each other into going combined with the pull of social media; people that have successfully traveled that are communicating back to people here saying, 'It's great,'" Thornton says.
Religious leaders in Minnesota also have been working to spread the message that the Islamic State group has no legitimate religious pull, says Abdisalam Adam, an imam at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis.
"Deep inside me, I believe they are not representing Islam with brutality and their message. I don't want them to be the bearer of that message: 'I'm a defender of Islam and I'm going to establish justice.' They are not," Adam says. "The number of Muslim victims, the method they're using, it's really contradictory to core Islamic teaching. I do not see answering their calls as really Islamic or jihad. I don't believe that."
He says Somali youth should not be leaving to join the extremists.
"There's no reason why they should go to Syria," Adam says. "I'm not giving it any excuse."
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Israeli Ethiopian Jews scuffled with police in Tel Aviv on Wednesday during an unauthorised protest but there were no serious incidents despite police warnings that violence was planned.
An AFP journalist at the scene, a busy city-centre junction, said around 200 protesters against alleged institutionalised racism took part alongside a heavy police presence and some tried to block roads but were pushed back.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that five people were arrested for defying police instructions, but nobody was injured on either side.
Ethiopian Jews in Israel have staged several rallies against alleged police brutality and racism in recent weeks, some of which have erupted into violence.
At a May 3 rally in Tel Aviv protesters threw stones, bottles and chairs, injuring 55 police officers.
Police used stun grenades, water cannon and pepper spray to disperse several thousand Ethiopian Israelis. Twelve protestors were hurt and 43 arrested.
The following day President Reuven Rivlin admitted Israel had made mistakes in its treatment of the Ethiopian Jewish community, calling their suffering "an open wound".
Ahead of Wednesday's demonstration police said they had received tipoffs that activists were again planning violence.
"Police intelligence has revealed the intention of 'militants' on the side of the protesters from the Ethiopian community inciting violence against police, civilians and property," a police statement said.
Israel has some 135,500 Jewish Israelis of Ethiopian descent, including more than 50,000 born inside the country.
The community has been at the centre of storms over alleged institutionalised racism in recent years.