Developed Terror

14th February 2020

The Hot Topic – Developed Terror, can we fight back…

What if rather than the threat of terror there was a cold certainty that you would experience it on a regular basis? No, we are not talking about the United Kingdom or even Europe at that stage, but rather the developing countries. Over the last 4 years there have been 4121 Terror Attacks carried out around the world.

From these attacks, since 2016; almost 32,000 people have lost their lives with tens of thousands more injured. Almost a quarter of these have been attributed to the Islamic State group. Whilst most people will think of these incidents occurring in the middle east or developed countries the actual statistics paint a grim picture.

From the North of Libya to the East of Mogadishu, the West of Mali to the South of Mozambique. Africa has become a hotbed for Terrorist attacks. The latest attack happened on January 18th this year. A suicide car bomber targeted a facility where Turkish engineers and Somali police officers were having their lunch. 4 people lost their lives in the attack with a further 20 injured. The majority of the casualties were police officers.

Al-Shabaab, ‘Mujahideen Youth Movement‘ a terrorist organisation linked to Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Only three weeks earlier on 28th December a suicide truck bombing at a checkpoint killed at least 84 people, including at least 15 university students, several police officers and two Turkish engineers. At least 150 other people were wounded, many in critical conditions.

Consider that for a second. In the space of 22 days over 88 people were killed with countless other suffering life changing injuries. To give it some perspective, the London Bridge attack saw 8 people killed with 48 injured. This isn’t to take away from the horrific attacks carried out in the United Kingdom but to help people realise the scale and scope of terror happening in developing countries.

It was only a couple of days ago that 30 people lost their lives in Lagos, Nigeria on the 11th February when suspected Boko Haram militants set fire to vehicles with sleeping people in them. This is the same group that kidnapped 276 Chibok schoolgirls from a school dormitory in 2014. To this day 112 of these girls are still missing.

At the start of the year three American defence workers were killed in an attack on Camp Simba, Manda Bay airfield in Kenya. The attack carried out in the early hours of Sunday morning saw al-Shabab storm the complex and the resulting four-hour gun battle ended with the death of 5 al-Shabab fighters.

In the majority of these cases a developed OPSEC could have negated the risk to the individuals and assets. Whilst most people think of OPSEC as the control of friendly information and data and restricting it from the enemy, this can be applied outside of the military command structure and organisations.

How did Boko Haram know that the school dormitory would contain so many girls? How did the al-Shabaab suicide bomber know where the Turkish engineers would be taking their lunch?

When information is available and cannot be restricted, then the next step is preventative measure or risk aversion. Alongside changing patterns, come the use of the right physical security. If you can’t remove the predictability of the situation then the next best step is to defend against attack.

Whilst the military has deployed countless units to the areas, their still remains a raft of soft-targets. From hotels to schools, churches to airfields the physical security in these areas is out dated at best and non-existent at the worst. Borders lay open, allowing insurgents to rampage across them at their pleasure and retreat back when engaged by government forces. Often in these cases it is after they have committed their act of terror.

So ‘The Hot Topic’ asks the following question. With the rise of terror related offences in the developing countries can they fight back through the use of increased physical security? Should there be a hardening of soft targets in the terms of physical security to offer a deterrent and delay when something does happen…