By INWALOMHE DONALD
Online digital platforms are needed to track terrorists. We need to focus more on gathering intelligence from streaming platforms in the Sahel. Cyberspace Administration must carefully screen live streaming apps in the Sahel of Africa to ensure they are in compliance with strict regulations governing online content. There must be a regulating body for streaming apps in the Sahel of Africa. Governments in the Sahel of Africa must monitor live streaming content and identify users, among other issues. Internet services giants, Facebook, Google and others, should overcome substantial regulatory hurdles and ensure a close regulatory scrutiny of terrorist’s content and other material deemed inappropriate for public dissemination.
France has gone into alliance with the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad) to help them deal with security challenges. About 42 million Euro of financial assistance is planned for the 2017-22 period, half of which will be used to acquire new equipment.
Cyberspace is one of the greatest threats to Africa’s existence and the military should concentrate attention on this ‘theatre of war. Cyberspace is a battleground against Africa’s unity. The internet has become the harbour for hate, provocative and inciting speeches capable of destabilising the continent.
Cyberspace, as currently designed, is a theatre of war in the 21st century. It has become the platform for articulation of terrorist activities as well as offensive expressions and the Sahel of Africa should see it as a conventional battlefield to which it must deploy forces.
Cyberspace has equally become a training school for the production and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). “Another lesson is that in the 21st century, the theatre of war is increasingly shifting to cyberspace. Terrorist organisations, purveyors of hate speeches, all of these and many more who seek to destabilise the world, are busy staking out territory on the Internet, and scoring significant victories and conquests for themselves.
The internet has altered or disrupted every industry we know of: politics and elections, business and commerce, governance; and is changing the very nature of warfare. Websites teaching how to make and use IEDs and other explosives are numerous. Today, a great deal of the threats facing Sahel of Africa are being nurtured and cultivated in the vast spaces of the internet. The rumblings of secession, the dangerous quit ultimatums to ethnic groups, the radio stations and blogs that spew divisive speeches and exploit our fault lines; all of these are now to be found online.
United Nations should prepare to handle the threat of the use of armed drones and air operations against Boko Haram, ISIS and other terror groups. There are issues of concern about the use of armed drones and chemical weapons in Syria. Terror groups have been involved in drone operations around the world.
According to Bruce Schneier, all disruptive technologies upset traditional power balances, and the Internet is no exception. The standard story is that it empowers the powerless, but that’s only half the story. The Internet empowers everyone. Powerful institutions in the Sahel of Africa might be slow to make use of that new power, but since they are powerful, they can use it more effectively. Governments and corporations have woken up to the fact that not only can they use the Internet, they can control it for their interests. Unless we start deliberately debating the future we want to live in, and the role of information technology in enabling that world, we will end up with an Internet that benefits existing power structures and not society in general.
There is need to create terrorists’ online platform, a model that people can use to defeat terrorism. In the fight against terrorism, we should migrate from military analogue to digital to defeat terrorism. We should create terror channels in the Sahel with the vision to tackle terror and create innovative ideas in the fight against terrorism. With the use of social media and others, the internet is crucial if we must defeat terrorists in the Sahel of Africa on online first. Despite increasing international recognition of the threat posed by terrorists’ use of the Internet in recent years in the Sahel of Africa, there is currently no global instrument specifically to address this pervasive facet of terrorist activity. Moreover, there is limited online action to defeat, restrict and control terrorists through the use of the Internet in the Sahel. Terrorism, in all its manifestations, affects us all. The use of the Internet to further terrorist purposes disregards national borders, amplifying the potential impact on victims. The United Nations Security Council recently unanimously backed a West African force which is not enough to combat militant groups in the Sahel region. The internet is crucial in the fight against terrorists in Africa.
Military action alone will not defeat terrorism in Africa. The United Nations and government at all levels in the Sahel of Africa should engage internet providers to streamline and monitor streaming issues online. There must be gathering of intelligence of streaming online issues in Africa. United Nations must defeat terrorists online first before it engages terrorists in military confrontation. Experts must be recruited and trained for streaming intelligence gathering online in the Sahel of Africa. The fight against terrorism starts from the internet.
We must collectively defeat terrorism on the internet before any military action. Intelligence gathering of streaming videos, blogs, text messages, internet relay, chat channels and others in Sahel of Africa are crucial in the fight against terrorists in Africa. As part of new approach to fight terrorism, African countries should invest in sophisticated surveillance technology and share information on a range of law enforcement and security matters, including terrorism. African countries should been exchanging and sharing information on terrorism. African countries should share intelligence on terror cases tied to Africa with United Nations Security Council — evidence like internet addresses used in a suspected identity of terror attack, “addresses that are traced to the African terrorists, for both the suspected attackers and potential victims.” There should be special internet security team aimed at West African networks and apparently originating from IP addresses in Africa. There should be Office of Internet Security in West Africa.
The fight against terror in West Africa should involve all areas of the Internet and online services, including social networking venues, websites that post terror activities, Internet news groups and Internet Relay Chat channels.
Donald, a researcher, writes from Benin City.