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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Terrorism in Africa 'to climb'

Johannesburg - Terrorist attacks, operations and activities in Africa will increase in the short and long term, a counter-terrorism conference in Kyalami has heard.

David Radcliffe, regional director for Africa in the office of the United States secretary of defence, said the threat would be mainly from global terrorist groups seeking refuge from their operational bases now under attack.

Radcliffe emphasised that he was expressing his personal view and not the official stance of the US government.

He said: "They need the space to train, they need the space to operate, they need the space to recruit.

"They a need a refuge they can go to with reasonable certainty that they are not going to be targeted by military forces.

"Africa as a continent allows vast amounts of space: physical and non-physical; urban and non-urban ... ; maritime; air; cultural and social; virtual space; operational space... "

Exploitation of Africa's wealth

Africa was attractive as a base of operation, a source of recruits from a frustrated public, and fund raising from sympathisers or through exploitation of the continent's natural wealth.

As fast as this threat was being addressed, terrorists would adapt. Radcliffe said: "They're intelligent, they're smart, they can see what we are doing."

African economies were particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Countries without diversified economies and those dependent on tourism could face crippling financial problems if terrorists attacked key industries and infrastructure.

He said that it was not necessary to kill too many people to create the impression that the country was not safe.

Radcliffe said: "It only takes a handful of terrorists to cause major disruptions."

If governments were really serious about addressing the threat of terrorism, they would coordinate their approaches to their security, legal, financial, development and health care systems.

They would also have to ensure they concentrated on the basics in the law enforcement and financial sectors.

Radcliffe said: "The majority of breakthroughs in combating terrorism are going to be from that alert border security guard that sees something suspicious..."

Source: News24, South Africa
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