Scene of New Year's day terror attack, Bosforo Hotel, Istanbul
Terrorism is doubtless one of civilization's worst enemies and today the whole world except a few rogue nations which former US President George Bush labeled as the axes of evil live in absolute dread. Today we are up against a wild world constantly berserk with an arsenal of guns and other powerfully dangerous explosives, turbulence, violence, and uncertainty that put lives the world over on the line. In fact, there is no denying the fact that terrorism is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.
This writer is often appalled in no small measure at the horror often left behind by the death merchants as they strike and send unsuspecting members of the public to untimely graves.
Only about one week ago a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, Germany. Many deaths were recorded in that horrendous attack that sent shock waves around the world. Shortly after the harrowing incident, the dreaded Islamic State militants went on air and claimed responsibility to the consternation of a grief-stricken and beleaguered world.
Again, beastly screaming 'Don't forget Aleppo!' a Turkish policeman pulled the trigger on a diplomat and down went the Russian Ambassador to Turkey which attracted international condemnation. This was another highly inexcusable act of terror by a state agent who derailed in his statutory responsibility for protecting lives and property.
In Nigeria, for instance, state agents have consistently been found breaking the rules of engagement in dealing with civil unrests. Many gun-toting policemen have unleashed acts of terror on unarmed civilians. One of such is the sensational extra-judicial killing of unarmed pro-Biafra agitators in the country's southeast peopled by the Igbos, one of the three major tribes that make up the federation of Nigeria. Recently Amnesty International released a shocking video footage where no fewer than 150 unarmed pro-Biafra agitators were killed in cold blood by Nigerian troops. It was a horrible sight. This was another reign of terror all things considered!
Last night on New Year eve, terror struck again in Istanbul, Turkey, and no fewer than thirty-nine people lost their lives while fifty-nine sustained mortal injuries when some gunmen opened fire on a crowd.
In a similar vein, today January 1, 2017, in the city of Florence, Italy a certain anti-bomb crack squad officer lost one of his hands after a suspicious package he was examining left outside a shuttered bookshop exploded with links to a group of extreme right activists, CasaPound, to be precise reportedly caught the attention of a passing police patrol.
Into what dangers would these lead the world as everyone now has to sleep with one eye open? This question often agitates the mind of this writer as he remains dismayed by the above-mentioned recent events and troubled by their international ramifications. There is no denying the fact that he stands united against terror which he has consistently crusaded against in many formal presentations and discourses.
There appears to be no end to this scourge as attacks have continued by these death merchants this time with an undiminished intensity which haunts the world with absolute dread.
In Nigeria, for instance, over 12,000 people have been killed by Islamist insurgents in terror-related attacks. The counter-terrorism operation is still on to this day although the government in the West African state appears to be winning the war with only a pocket of resistance as the terror group, Boko haram, has been reportedly degraded and dislodged from their forest bastion of Sambisa in the country's desert northeast.
The world, as it stands, shakes today with terror amid threats to blow up the world in a Jihadist insurgency, it has become absolutely necessary for world governments to come together, join forces irrespective of their creed, belief, and religion to read terrorists the Riot Act. Although this appears difficult but it is not impossible.
For starters, as the writer condemns terrorism, he also urges world governments to stand united in combating threats to international peace and security as most of these terrorist attacks are committed by non-natives calling to mind the recent attacks in Berlin, Nice, Brussels and Bosforo Hotel in Istanbul. The historic 9/11 attacks on New York, USA was planned and executed by foreigners and in Nigeria also, we have heard of cross-border attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on communities in neighboring countries.
While combating threats caused by terrorist acts, one would, therefore, suggest that those who sponsor terror, aid and abet, instigate or provide terrorists with safe havens are denounced because only about two days ago a Boko Haram terrorist was reportedly caught in a lawmaker's house in one of Nigeria's desert cities in the northeast, the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency. I insist with all the emphasis at my command, we must condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and for whatever purpose in order to remove the threat of untimely death that hangs over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles.
Cooperation is required in combating international terrorism via cross-border attacks and this, as a matter of fact, is not the sole responsibility of one country battling the menace. There must be an element of serious commitment to enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation as contained in most 'Joint Action Plan' which many countries under the sun are signatories to, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon's are cases in point.
It is the writer's interest and desire to see a world free of hate, in fact a without weapons and violence, every act that is likely to cause terror must be nipped in the bud via political dialogue via sensitization programs hall meetings to sensitize the people on the need to resolve disputes amicably without recourse to violence. This has become absolutely necessary because the imbroglio that later escalated into a full-blown Islamist insurgency in Nigeria would have otherwise been avoided and many lives which have been lost would also have been saved if the situation was carefully handled at the time or at the beginning of the episode.
It has also become absolutely necessary to ensure and encourage all countries to deny safe haven to terrorists and to dismantle terror infrastructure on the territories under their control - one of the reasons why the Nigerian Army deserves a pat on the back for taking the bull by the horns via an intensive military campaign that led to the fall of Sambisa - the Boko Haram stronghold.
Without money, one can not achieve anything. It has again, become highly imperative to block terrorists' access to finance and other resources. This is one of the major weapons which if effectively put in check will make potential terrorist 'fly an ordinary pitch'', if one may borrow a hackneyed quotation from Shakespeare.
All hands must also be on deck by enhancing efforts for accessing and sharing intelligence information not only to disrupt but to prevent terrorists' activities, the Nigeria intelligent agency - the Department of State services (DSS) - reportedly foiled an ill-conceived plan to carry out a terror attack in the US recently. Months ago, Italy's intelligence agency also provided Norway with an intelligence information that equally foiled a planned attack. The mastermind of Berlin Christmas terrorist attack was tracked down and killed in Milan, Italy during a crossfire with the police. No country has the monopoly of knowledge, hence this requires the cooperation of all countries.
On the global scene, to combat this lingering menace to make the world safe for us all, the world needs to ensure that an effective and comprehensive approach to reducing long-term threat of violent extremism is adopted, promote initiatives under the auspices of the United Nations, inter alia on Alliance of Civilization initiative for this would pave a way for understanding among civilizations.
All in all, Nigeria has benefited immensely from intelligence and information sharing with her West African neighbors which also stood toe-to-toe with the Boko Haram insurgents. These countries namely Chad, Cameroon and Republic of Niger have also suffered attacks on their territories which have resulted in a monumental loss of human lives and property in their respective domains.
It is, therefore, the writer's candid advice that global ratification and effective implementation of all relevant conventions on counter-terrorism operations be religiously adopted in order to battle potential terrorists to a standstill. All I crave, I dare say, is a world without weapons and violence.
*Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues wrote from Turin, Italy.
. Iyoha John Darlington