Monday, May 30, 2016

TACKLING TERROR ONE UGANDAN AT A TIME

On Thursday the high court found eight of 13 suspects guilty of involvement in the Kampala bombings of July 11, 2010, in which 76 people died and many more were injured.

The attacks of Kyadondo Rugby club and the Ethiopian Village were one of Uganda’s worst terrorist attack.

The Lord’s Resistance Army bloody rampage through northern Uganda tops the list, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operations in western Uganda, especially at Kicwamba technical college in Kasese and the bombs of Kampala at the beginning of the century have their pride of place in this grim narration of our history.

Over the last five or so years and 82 witnesses later an intricate web of intrigue, geopolitical posturing and downright ruthlessness has been drawn during the trial of the perpetrators of this crime which was planned in Somalia and executed by Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians.

Among the motivations for it were the desire by Al Shabaab, an offshoot of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was to as well as punish Uganda for being part of the Africa Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) wanted to win favour with Al Qaeda, by then still regarded as the top terrorism enterprise in the world.

The Ugandans who participated in the attack were systematically and consistently brainwashed over months, even years to believe that Ugandans deserved this fate because of how Somalis were suffering at home.

The common denominator among the Ugandan perpetrators – apart from their Islamic faith, was their youth and economic difficulty, as most of them were out of jobs when they came under Al Shabaab’s influence.

"Clearly a bad economy can serve as the “quarter guard” for terrorism....

It is clear that growing income and wealth disparities leads the lesser privileged into the hands of criminal and terrorist gangs if only as a means of survival. Hence the urgency to see Uganda’s growth spread more equitably through improved service delivery and reduced corruption.

But also what came out during the trial is that certain influencers in the society are behind the scenes abetting these criminal acts either through their own warped convictions or as a way to profit, regardless of who gets hurt.

Nations are designed so that the state can be responsible for our collective wellbeing. Many times this collective wellbeing may come to the discomfort of some, the price we have to pay for peace and stability.

My delay to an important appointment is secondary to the maintaining of traffic laws or my need to guarantee my own security at home does not allow me to cut off a public road or my taste for loud cacophonous music does not allow me to blast my system into the wee hours of the morning. In denying me the right to do the above inconveniences me for the benefit of the majority. It’s an unwritten contract we sign with the state.

Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura in explaining the increasing presence of anti-terror police on our streets, argued that the police had to be correct all the time while the terrorists have to be correct only once to cause an impact.

Unfortunately, when the police do their job well there are not appreciated but if they put a foot wrong even once they are reviled as good-for-nothing thugs.

"Beyond the material, a common ideology has to be developed that locates us as Ugandans whose love for country comes before all else....

That is not a fashionable way to speak in a globalised world, where individual rights are in the ascendance and the concept of the nation is under threat. But in studying these young men who pledged themselves to a destructive code, economic hardship served as an opportunity, but indoctrinating them was all the more easier because the brainwashers were not replacing one conviction with another. They found these young men’s minds fallow and ready to fall for any propaganda that was pressed upon them.

Hopefully justice has been passed but this is also a wakeup call, for us to do some soul searching of our own. Living in the center of the storm, this very volatile region of ours, our economic weaknesses may be the very opening our enemies exploit to do us harm.


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