Public opinion in East Africa is unanimous that terrorism orchestrated by Islamic militants, the Al Shabaab and militias roaming the jungles of the vast DR Congo remains the single biggest threat to security person and property.
The public also rightly believe that if not jointly tackled, terror attacks in any member-country can potentially be dangerous to the core objectives of our integration—economic development.
The question therefore is: What should be done to ensure that terrorist organisations fail in their machinations to make East Africa unsafe for enjoyment of human freedoms and doing business?
Some say, the answer may lie with fast tracking the last stage in the region’s gradual integration process, political federation. A federation, they say, will ensure synergies to deal with this global menace.
They are absolutely. Terrorists operate a well-oiled and intricate network that fears confrontation with the military and targets defenseless civilians. Take the example of the Somali militants, the Al shabaab, who will melt away in mere sight of Kenyan armed forces inside Somalia, but will hit civilians going about their business in shopping malls and buses in Kenya or Uganda.
Here at home, the FDLR from their hideouts in DR Congo will not provoke a fight with the RDF, but will throw grenades at civilians in markets.
The complexity of terrorism is also manifested in the ease with which they lure and radicalize unsuspecting youth into their ranks to advance their agenda.
Neutralizing such activities will require not only enormous financial and military resources, but also manpower, research, coordination and sensitization. Only joint efforts can marshal such logistics quickly and efficiently.
But must we wait for a federation? Not at all. Everything humanly possible should be done immediately to take this fight back to door steps of the terrorist.