Algiers meeting assesses African counter-terror strategy
By Hayam El Hadi for Magharebia in Algiers – 03/11/11
The Algiers-based African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism (CAERT) hosted a meeting of African security officials on Sunday (October 30th) to discuss ways to end the link between terror groups and the transnational trafficking of drugs and weapons.
"The terrorist threat facing the African continent is a complex issue. Drug and human trafficking, piracy, the arms trade and money laundering are all transnational organised crimes indicating a link between West African drug traffickers and subgroups of AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb]," African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said at the meeting
CAERT director Francisco Caetano José Madeira explicitly asked member states "to adopt, as a matter of urgency, a national and regional counter-terrorism strategy to ensure co-ordination, consistency, and the sharing of information between institutions".
"We must stop the terrorists, and we must discredit their movements," Madeira said, addressing representatives of the member-states. "There is an urgent need for us to strengthen our defence mechanisms and working methods to improve our counter-terrorism action plan."
To achieve this aim, Madeira asked all member countries to introduce global counter-terrorism legislation and called for "heightened security at borders".
"People's identities must be checked to ascertain whether they belong to criminal or terrorist groups," he said, exhorting countries to check travel documents held by suspect persons. "Verification systems must be in place for cargo entering countries or being sent from those countries."
The CAERT director emphasised that "shipping lanes and airspace must also be secured, money must be tracked, and those who have committed acts of terrorism must be brought to justice".
"The efforts being made today by Algeria are aimed at consolidating the conditions for stability, security and development," Algerian presidential advisor Kamel Rezzag-Bara, also co-ordinator of the government counter-terrorism group, said at the meeting.
"Those efforts are also being extended across the neighbouring Maghreb-Sahel areas, to circumvent any attempt by the terrorist groups to find a safe haven in the African Sahel and to prevent the taking of hostages," he added.
Rezzag-Bara also announced that Algeria would host on November 16th and 17th the first meeting of the counter-terrorism working group on the Sahel region.
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