The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Friday urged East African countries to combat trans-national terrorism-related security perils through new initiatives.
The urgent call was made by Director General of IGAD’s Security Division, Abebe Muluneh, who noted that recurrent security threats, mainly in the form of frequent terrorist assaults, “requires a new and determined regional approach to counteract the menace.”
“Currently, the region faces serious and complex transnational security threats including financing terrorism, violent extremism, cyber crime, trafficking in humans and drugs,” Muluneh told reporters here on Friday.
According to IGAD’s security program director, “terrorism has become the dominant mode of disrupting stability in the region,” mainly due to frequent and deadly militant assaults by terrorist groups such as the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab, which has long been perceived as a Somali terrorist organization, has now posed “a stern security threat to the wider IGAD region,” Muluneh stressed.
He also noted that al-Shabab, since 2010, has transformed itself into “a truly regional threat, with membership and horizons that transcend national borders.”
Muluneh also stressed that the terrorist group is presently trying to recruit members from non-Somalis as part of its effort to attack in other territories like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
“Almost all states in the IGAD region are victims of threats from the terrorist group al-Shabab,” he stressed.
Even losing several cities and towns, the group still controls large swathes of territory and taxes trade and businesses to fund its operation and it continues to carry out a complex attacks in the region even against the 22,000 security officers under the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), according to IGAD’s security program chief.
Noting that the group is active in six countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Tanzania, Muluneh further stressed that new counter-terrorism initiatives are needed to tackle the potential risks from the group.
He also disclosed that following recurrent security threats, “IGAD has come up with a new strategy by revisiting its approach that focuses in conflict prevention, resolution and cooperation against transnational security threats, governance in the Horn Africa region.”
“IGAD is now pursuing inter-linked approaches to address the transnational security threat through its Security Sector Program to address the challenges holistically,” he said.
According to the Director for Organized and Emerging Crime at Interpol, Paul Stanfield, the IGAD region is “the hotspot of human smuggling and trafficking activities which is making terrorism more complicated.”
Noting that organized transnational security threats and crimes are not only the unique features of Horn Africa region, Stanfield stressed the essential need to exercise counter-measures globally.
Stanfield also stressed Interpol’s support to IGAD and its member countries in the fight against transnational security threats in Horn of Africa and beyond.
According to Interpol’s director of organized crime, Interpol’s support to the regional efforts would mainly include collection and dissemination of “good information and better analysis of security issues.”