Liberia: Homegrown Terrorism?

By Atty. Prince M. Korvah

On Monday, November 20, 2023, a rather unfortunate situation that led to the death of three persons and nearly 20 injuries occurred at the headquarters of the Unity Party during its celebration of the 2023 Presidential Election win.

It is believed that the situation was accidental though an investigation is pending. We pray for the bereaved families and those who sustained injuries amidst underequipped and poorly supported public health facilities.

However, with conflicting accounts that seem to have plagued several people into a state of panic, the need to reassure confidence in our public safety regime remains critical. When the news broke, several thoughts ran to my mind including the possibility of potential homegrown terrorism. Could this be an act of domestic terrorism? I asked myself. I then crisscrossed a few open sources and engaged with a handful of persons who were at the venue, but there was nothing solid to hold onto. Howbeit, there are a few takeaways:

1. It's important to remember that we live in a dangerous world and a sub-region that is not immune from the rapid spread of terrorism or its threats.

2. Public safety and the shared sense of confidence in its existence by both the citizens and investors is critical for any economic revolution as envisaged by the incoming UP-led government.

3. Public safety bars are very low and thus susceptible to hate crimes.

4. All major public gatherings should be considered a “value target” and ensuring adequate safety measures including emergency response capabilities by the organizers and requisite state authorities should be a priority. It is paramount to leave nothing to chance.

5. The internet is an enabler of radicalization so initiating a robust anti-terrorism and deradicalization program for students and out-of-school youths will be a strategic move going forward. It would also serve as a preventive layer of defense.

6. All suspected situations that border on the public’s confidence in its safety should be speedily investigated and if linked to any network of radicalized individuals (loose or coordinated,) no effort should be spared to uproot and hold to full account those involved as per the law.

Anyone who provides funds or moral encouragement as a means of facilitating such an act against civilians is part of the network.

Consequently, as the nation inches toward yet another democratic transfer of power, nothing should be treated lightly or as “business as usual.” Note, however, that it would be insane to expect a magical turnaround, but bold affirmative leadership at all levels will be crucial. The unlawful use of violence or threat against civilians with the object of instilling FEAR, especially during heights of political, ethnic, economic, or religious tension, etc. is terrorism and it can have a daring effect on the public’s sense of security and overall trust in its government to provide for its protection as enshrined in Article 20 of the Liberian Constitution and several other provisions thereof.

About the Author

Atty. Prince M. Korvah is an Israeli-trained security and diplomatic professional