The first time I heard about terrorism was when BBC reported September 11 attacks on the US of which Al Qaeda then led by Osama Bin Laden claimed responsibility. It was one of the deadliest attacks perpetrated by organized group of terrorists in the history of mankind. It is believed that at least 2996 people died and some 6000 plus sustained various degree of injuries. People from different countries were affected including our motherland Ghana. Since then I got to know that terrorism no matter how far the attacks are perpetrated on people elsewhere, we are directly or indirectly affected. Somewhere last year I read it on Ghanaweb that a Ghanaian in Syria was beheaded by ISIS and that should tell you we are all involved. When it comes to terrorism, it is an undeniable fact that we are involved both directly and indirectly. Even if our country is not under attacks, elsewhere Ghanaian nationals are being killed so we cannot run away from it.
Terrorism though my little research shows it has been around for a very long time and was very predominant during the French revolution. It is a form of war tactics employed by a group of people who feel they cannot withstand an organized armies at battlefield and as a result employ other tactics to register their pleasure or press for their demands. It is politically or religiously motivated. The most dangerous form is terrorism employed in the name of religion. In that case, people are brain washed to believe that their reward is in heaven when they die in the name of religion. People are made to believe they are dying for a godly cause and for that matter it is worth dying. The current global terrorism crisis we are facing has been termed by many political and social analysts as a spillover of America’s interest in the Middle East, especially America-Iraqi war. The ripple effect is what we are seeing in the attacks on the various countries seemed to be allies of U.S. The September 11 attacks on the US has triggered some effects that has placed the whole world in the center stage as far terrorism is concerned. We have since seen several terrorists groups sprung up and perpetrating attacks on innocent people particularly in Europe, America and Africa.
In Africa, we in Ghana still felt that terrorism is far from us when heard the activities of Somalia based Al-Shabab launching attacks on people. We did not feel the pinch that much until the West Gate Mall attacks occurred in Kenya when one of own eminent professors and poet Kofi Awoonor was caught up in the attacks and died. By then we have heard of Boko Haram in our neighboring Nigeria kidnapping the Chibok girls and committing other atrocities. We were not minding much because no Ghanaian has reportedly been involved in any Boko Haram attacks. The most recent attacks that should be very alarming to us as Ghanaians and especially to our brothers and sisters in Northern part of Ghana is the recent attacks on Burkina Faso which shares border with Ghana in the north in less than a week where it is reported that some 28 people have died and several others have been injured. We have heard of terrorism in Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia, Mali, other African countries and now Burkina Faso. Terrorism has reached our borders and that should tell us that terrorism has dawned on us as a country and we do not have any choice than to prepare ourselves for it.
Very recently we had it on records that at least two Ghanaians have joined the dreaded ISIS, a terrorists group based in Syria. A young Ghanaian graduate from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology who is believed to have said that he has problems with Ghanaian’s democracy and corruption, and certain lady from Tema area who left the shores of Ghana to join ISIS is something that should run shivers in the spine of Ghanaians. Just recently the Police in the Northern Ghana rounded up some seven people with AK47 assault rifles at Salaga area and it is believed that they are connected to Taliban another dreadful terrorists group based in Afghanistan or somewhere in the Middle East. That should tell us that the terrorism virus which is deadlier than Ebola and HIV/AIDS is lurking around and we need to be very careful as people. We have no time to waste than to conscientize ourselves about the activities of terrorists groups in the sub region. Proactiveness is the watchword in these times.
I know issues of terrorism is purely National Security issues so it should be handled properly in a manner not to put fear into Ghanaians and also to maintain our reputation on international fronts as terrorism free country but I think that the time has come to create some level of awareness in Ghanaians for us to know where the world has reached as far as terrorism is concerned. Must we sit down for some unscrupulous people to strike like in the case of Garisa University in Kenya where dozens of students were massacred and the university was closed down? Are we waiting for some people to enter into any of our secondary schools and carry a number of school children away like in the case of Chibok girls in Nigeria or we are waiting for a bomb blast in some hotels as in the case of Burkina Faso before we admit that truly our country is under terrorists attack? That might be too late for us as a country. By the time we begin to see attacks that means that some of our people have bought into idea of terrorism and have sworn their involvement. That will be very difficult for us handle as a country.
At this time, in as much as we do not want to put fear and panic into Ghanaians, we should find a conscious way of running programs that will make the ordinary Ghanaian security conscious to complement the efforts of our security services. There should be some level of awareness going on in our schools, churches, mosques and other public places where people gather in their numbers during events. We should not be taken by surprise like what happened at Bataclan concert and other places in France in last month where many were killed unexpectedly. We need to activate the intelligence of the ordinary Ghanaian to report any unlawful gathering going on somewhere to the police or any other security agency. This is the time for us track the activities of all the religious groups. We should not forget that modern forms terrorism is wrapped in religious jackets so no stone must be left unturned. This is the time for us to enforce our Public Order Act to the later. The general population must wake up to part of policing so that we can safeguard our motherland Ghana. The time is now.