Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures

Excuse my armchair criticism but I will say the same thing I said a few months ago. European intelligence agencies are sleeping on the job and if they don’t wake up soon, Belgium, French and German leaders will continue to address to their respective citizens in an attempt to comfort and reassure them in the wake of terrorist attacks, except that those very citizens are increasingly getting the sense that authorities are letting them down.

Excuse my armchair criticism but I will say the same thing I said a few months ago. European intelligence agencies are sleeping on the job and if they don’t wake up soon, Belgium, French and German leaders will continue to address to their respective citizens in an attempt to comfort and reassure them in the wake of terrorist attacks, except that those very citizens are increasingly getting the sense that authorities are letting them down.

Nobody is saying that we can rid this world of evil or root out terrorism entirely because there will always be those willing to hurt others but many of the recent attacks especially in France and Belgium could have been prevented. I can understand intelligence failures anywhere in Africa because we’re not nearly as equipped as these advanced nations with multi-million dollar National Security Budgets and yet they claim they don’t have enough manpower to keep an eye on all terror suspects. 

If I were one of those people who’ve lost loved ones to these preventable attacks, I would be angry. How many suspects are on these watch lists? I don’t think they exceed 50,000. Everything is computerized so for me, there’s no excuse. It’s a lot easier to keep tabs on these kinds of people than deploying security officials at every restaurant, church or school. 

I have watched documentaries on fraudsters, drug lords and other criminals who’re not necessarily as dangerous and you wonder why the amount of time and resources dedicated to tracking them down is not replicated in the fight against terror. It is surprising how terror suspects easily stock up arms and even manage to get on planes. 

19 year old Adel Kermiche, one of the assailants in the latest attack on a church in France was friends with an ISIS fighter known to have participated in the group’s shocking signature beheadings. French authorities even intercepted calls between the two. Kermiche tried, not once but twice to get to Syria and authorities didn’t even keep him in prison long enough to serve out his term. 

If someone hangs with known terrorists, chances are they share the same beliefs. If you must release these kinds of suspects, don’t let them out of sight. Alert their neighbours to look out as well, monitor their calls and online activity and if something is going on, you will catch it before they hurt someone. This is partly why I like our nosiness as Africans. 

If that young man had been living in a typical African setting, his own neighbours would have been watching his every move.  In many African communities, other people’s business is our business. You buy a car or even a TV and the entire neighborhood knows. 

If someone’s imprisoned for whatever reason, that will be the talk of the village for months if not years and it’s conversations like those that have kept us safe for decades and I’m not saying we don’t have crime because we do but I like our “See something, say something” mentality. 

Most of these terrorists are young men some of whom even still live with their parents and yet somehow, no one has a clue what’s going on? Well one thing is certain. While candles, hashtags and vigils are commendable, they will not stem these attacks. Tough measures will.

 

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