Mandate of counter terrorism agencies should be reviewed
SEE ALSO :The unseen war - Part 2The third area in which a national counter terrorism authority will add value is the establishment of a single command unit that is decentralised across clustered counties to respond to terror incidences from an operational, tactical and kinetic level. From the post 1998 terror attack at the US embassy, we know that most attacks occur during the Enemy Lull Window which starts during the last and next attack. Police Service During this period, the enemy keenly studies response strategies, how to turn the population away from Central Government capacity to provide security to her citizens, maps new soft targets, undertakes logistical stocking and dry runs attack plans before final execution. This happened in 2008 when 10 members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group laid a three day siege in Mumbai, India; attacking more than five sites, including the Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Palace hotels. Neutralisation efforts were partly disrupted because survivors kept on calling relatives who were interviewed by the media and thus exposed. It should be remembered that during active terror response operations, military operations on urbanised terrain, high-rise buildings and public institutions, the insertion and extraction of forces is often the hardest part of raids in urban areas. Some countries have deployed the use of GSM jammers while rerouting all rescue efforts to secure spectrum bandwidth to enable better coordination of response. Perhaps this is an area the proposed National Counter Terrorism Authority or the National Police Service could consider pitching to the Communications Authority. Such a spectrum will have special call signals to the police canine team, on-site paramedics and receiving hospitals. Additionally, other countries have National Emergency Media Units that will be the only media house on site relaying feed to other media establishments in order to avoid the unprofessional coverage of terror incidents that tends to glorify terrorists. This in itself is not media censorship as it will be in national interest to manage media coverage, especially with rise of fake news and sensationalism. As the country comes to terms with the aftermath of the attack, it should be an opportunity to take stock of the progress and review gaps with empathy and understanding that counter terrorism requires political leadership that places the lives of citizens ahead of tender wars especially when it comes to security related procurements, training and resourcing of the entire response. Parliament and the Executive should perhaps consider reviewing the current mandates of all counter terrorism agencies with a view of steering them towards a lean and efficient machinery with an immediacy capability. Mr Wanyonyi is a Strategic Communications and Systems Thinking [email protected]
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