Lack of information exchange between states and poor funding have slowed efforts to fight violent extremism in Eastern Africa, a regional bloc has said.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) says each state has been gathering its own intelligence and using national resources to fight terrorism.
“We should think of how different programmes need to be run differently against normal government systems in order to make it work at all costs. We need to get people to work together and harness any good they have within them so as to help make the region better,” Igad Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim said in Nairobi yesterday.
Mr Maalim said the fight against terrorism should begin by understanding the reason why people are getting convinced to blow themselves up and take others with them.
“We are trying to understand this global phenomenon, these are very vibrant educated people who have a lot going for them,” he said.
He was addressing security experts from Igad states and Tanzania, who are meeting in Nairobi to formulate an Eastern Africa counter violent extremism strategy. He said security issues in the region are being handled by different offices, without coordination adding that there was need to formulate different programmes that will be run against normal government systems.
Journey of humanity
The need for a regional counter violent extremism strategy emerged last year during the White House Summit on the scourge which attracted global experts in the security sector.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma said there was need to draw lessons from the journey of humanity. “The capacity of states, in terms of ability to collect, analyse and execute intelligence as well as to develop and carry along its citizens is crucial to efforts to counter violent extremism,” Ms Juma said.
Igad has admitted that the use of the military and militarised law enforcement efforts have failed to achieve desired results in dissuading individuals and communities from joining violent armed movements.
The approach, according to Igad, has downgraded the military capacity of extremist groups but has failed to stop recruitment of young people.
Human rights bodies in the region, especially in Kenya and Ethiopia, have constantly decried the conduct of security forces in the fight against terrorism.
The Human Rights Watch recently argued that unlawful detention, extrajudicial execution and enforced disappearance of suspected terror suspects only fuel radicalisation.
Igad stated that terrorists and extremist groups had exploited opportunities offered by communication technology, especially social media.
The security experts are expected to incorporate their respective state experiences in the formulation of the document. Only Kenya and Somalia already have counter-terrorism strategies in place. They are expected to focus on strategies to counter homegrown extremists, radicalised militias, criminal networks and syndicates of international networks.