We are very much pleased to see that the Government of Liberia is taking the threat of terrorism seriously, and that it is being approached from a professional and tactical standpoint, where a total of one hundred Executive Protection Service agents have now been trained in anti-terrorism mechanisms.
Where better to receive such training than in Nigeria, a nation on the frontline of terrorism in Africa? More than any other West African nation, Nigeria knows all too well the threat of terrorism and its human toll. The terror group, Boko Haram, has vowed to put a stop to Western education with the aim of implementing Sharia law in Nigeria. This is serious, and we are pleased to see that the Liberian government is taking it as such — not waiting until it arrives at our doorsteps before action is taken, at which point it would be too late.
There are at least three major threats undermining Africa’s progress today — environmental degradation, corruption and terrorism. Of the three, terrorism is unique in that we have at least seen and heard governments and private citizens raise outcry and even take action against environmental degradation and corruption; but terrorism is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. With the exception of the United States and a few key allies, leaders the world over seem to be afraid to confront and address it head on. Even when it is discussed, it does not inspire as much passion and specificity as do the other two.
Even said powers who have the capability to fight terrorism have not uprooted the source. The United States’ capture of Osama bin Laden was a commendable achievement, but he was only one man. As the US continues to go after high-level terror targets via its infamous drone strikes, it appears to be fighting a one man war against individuals. It is always interesting to see two governments exchange blows in the media, shake hands for the cameras on the White House lawn and then go back to exchanging blows in the media. The United States and all who cherish peace would make much more progress if they attacked terrorism at the root. Why isn’t anyone calling upon Muslim leaders to draw a red line between Islam and terrorism? Since the United States and its allies are seen by many in the Arab world as anti-Islam, Muslim leaders are the only ones with the legitimate authority to distinguish Islam from terrorism.
Of course, there is no reason why we in Africa cannot apply this strategy of calling upon African Muslim clerics to categorically denounce terrorism. Why haven’t any African Muslim leaders come out to denounce the recent terror attacks on the shopping mall in Nairobi? The stronghold of terrorism is that it is done in the name of Islam; and if indeed the two are not the same, then we need to call upon Muslims around the world to assert that. If not, we will constantly be in battle readiness for an almost invisible opponent; always on the defensive, in a position where even going on the offensive may only yield more of the same.
We call upon Shiekh Kafumba Konneh and other Muslim leaders in Liberia and across Africa to draw that line between terrorism and Islam; otherwise, we are left with no choice but to believe that their silence means consent and that the two are in fact one and the same.