CRUSHING BOKO HARAM WITH INTELLIGENCE

ollorwi.imagesCrushing Boko Haram WITH INTELLIGENCE

When the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War ended many thought that the country had been made a safer place, and the tendency was for Nigerians to relax about national security. But, as time has shown, the end of the 30 months Civil War merely revealed other deadly dangers. From countering the Kano Disturbances in 1980 to the Niger Delta militants that nearly crippled the nation’s economy, to an international web of terrorists seeking to undermine our culture and existence and campaigning to Islamize the country, the Nigerian military has not only been unable to relax, it has been forced to be more vigilant than ever.

Nigeria is prosecuting its first full-fledged military operations since the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War in 1970. Information emanating therefrom revealed that our army is geared to fight other armies. This accounts for why the war with Boko Haram has been so different and proving difficult for us.

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s eleventh hour goal, crush Boko Haram within 6 weeks, before the 2015 general elections, failed. The President Muhammed Buhari government’s hope that bombing cities and towns of the northeastern Nigeria occupied by Boko Haram terrorists will defeat them also proves negative. Perhaps, the hit or miss strategy of President Jonathan worked in eliminating the original Abubakar Shekau, but was not effective in silencing the Boko Haram sect as the renew offensive by the group in recent times show.

Terrorism is a frontless battle. Terrorists all over the world are known to be very mobile; united by common ideology and adopt dynamic operational strategies. Like chameleon, they easily blend with their environment to carry out their evil.

As the ongoing war against Boko Haram demonstrates, the best way to prevent terrorism is to identify and kill the terrorists. Aggression remains the key to defeating terror. Recommending Vladimir Putin, President of Russia’s strategy against terrorism to Nigeria Femi Fani-Kayode said, the Russians have cultivated the courage to stop the pampering and to desist from trying to rationalize the evil of ISIS and the forces of terror. The Russians confronted and crushed the evil of terrorism in Chechnya, and now they are doing it in the Middle East.

While condemning President Barak Obama for encouraging and tolerating evil on the altar of political expediency and for supporting or covertly funding terrorists, Femi Fani-Kayode called on the international community to “encourage the Russians to keep the bombs flying and to send the demons to hell where they belong”.

He emphasized the need “for us to come together and cleanse our land of these godless creatures. They should be cleansed from the land and eliminated in the same way that cockroaches and rats are cleansed and eliminated from a filthy house”.

There is no other way better than to kill the killers. But, arms work only where intelligence is effective. Bombs that fly without solid intelligence to direct them usually end up destroying the crops instead of the weeds. Our security forces have erroneously relied heavily on information from purported escapees to their detriment. This information mostly belated, lacked real-time intelligence materials. Again, a situation where strategies and tactics are discussed in the news media does not paint our military in good picture.

During the America-British War of 1812 the Americans made a grave mistake that change the face of intelligence protection. During the lager part of that war it was unnecessary for the British to spy on the U.S. to find out what they were planning. The US was giving information away. In the first two years of the war, American Newspapers regularly published accounts of troops’ movements, official military correspondence, and letters from officers describing operations and actions. Naturally, British generals read these papers, which became a prime source of intelligence.

By 1814 the problem was so severe that the US Army had to publish an order forbidding the publication of military information in Newspapers. Ever since, the US military and the press have worked hand in hand during times of conflict. The US press remains free, but not at the cost of American lives to enemy attack. Information for public consumption must be separated from information for military use.

Our spies must intensify clandestine operations. Boko Haram can only be wiped out of Nigeria by some clever intelligence work, telemarketing campaigns that sell the leaders on the benefits of surrender; and which also unearths detailed information about the sect; and direct the bombs appropriately on target.

Disinformation must be encouraged and pursued. False information must be disseminated to mislead the enemy commanders into making the wrong moves so that they could be more easily defeated.

The fragmentation of databases by our law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies is unhealthy for the nation’s efforts towards protecting the nation from the forces of destruction. The tasks that our military and intelligence community currently face are enormous:

  1. Routing out and destroying terrorist cells;
  2. Improving security at our seaports, airports and on commercial airlines;
  3. Training and equipping those responsible to terrorist attacks;
  4. Reducing the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit;
  5. Improving security at our borders; and protecting potential sites of terrorist attacks.

One of the toughest jobs facing the DSS today is routing out Boko Haram and ISIS cells that may already be in place in several cities and towns of Nigeria, especially southern Nigeria. Reports have apparently established a clear link between Boko Haram and ISIS. In August, 2015 ISIS leader, Chief Imam Ahmed Al-Assir was arrested trying to fly into Nigeria via Cairo, on a fake Palestinian travel documents. Between July and August, 2015 several members of the Boko Haram sect were arrested across the country. One Usman Shuaibu known as Money and other frontline members of the group were arrested in Lagos, Enugu, Plateau, Gombe and Kano. Shuaibu admitted being the leader of the team of Boko Haram members that was dispatched from Sambisa Forest to carry out several attacks. He disclosed that 4 out of the 9 members’ team were used as suicide bombers in executing all the recent suicide attacks.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Bruatai while addressing troops in Lagos revealed that commanders of Boko Haram and some of its foot soldiers have infiltrated Lagos and other southern states. He hinted that security agents have already arrested a handful of the terrorists.

Recently, residents of Jos were warned to be alert following intelligent report that Boko Haram is planning to attack Jos. Crushing Boko Haram aggressively depends on the military’s ability to know more about the sect than the sect does about the military.

The DSS must be granted authority NOW to question as many northerners living outside their place of origin in a search for potential terrorist cells, spies, or people who might provide information helpful to the Nigerian military war effort. It may sound selective but necessary for security reasons.

The war against terrorism in the northeastern Nigeria has dislodged many terrorists, including Muslim fundamentalists and their sympathizers from the area and are now scattered all over the country.

Therefore, agents across the country should beef up efforts at interviewing this people in their homes, where they work, study, relax or do business. The DSS should be looking for three things:

  1. Potential terrorists – search for any links with Boko Haram, ISIS and possibly sympathetic radical Muslim groups.
  2. People with no known address and no known means of livelihood who relocated to their present station recently must be interrogated for the information they may have.
  3. Those who might be interested in helping Nigeria eliminate Boko Haram.

The DSS agents must know that the interviews are to be voluntary and to assure people that the government will protect them from any anti-Boko Haram backlash. The interviewees should also be assured that they would not be sent back to their home town.

The war against terrorism is a global war but each country’s terrorist group has its peculiarity in terms of the group’s characteristics, definition and selection of targets, methods of attack and above all, set goals. Set goals or demands of terrorist groups are important elements in the overall strategy to defeating the group. Where these goals or demands are not tenable like the ones advanced by Boko Haram, total elimination of the group is the best bet.

Intelligence holds the key to success or otherwise of any military operation. The subtle art of intelligence gathering and sophistical methods of deceiving the enemy often determines the outcome of key battles. Knowing where the enemy was going to be, when they were going to be there, and how many of them would be there, while keeping your own location and number secret, often made the difference. But, because the raw intelligence that led to victory was never publicly stated, historians tend to interpret the behavior of the confronting armies without taking intelligence into consideration.

The importance of intelligence was aptly demonstrated during the second war with Iraq. In addition to covert operations, there were huge intelligence gathering operations designed to facilitate the capture or assassination of Saddam Hussein. One method the US adopted was the monitoring of communications of Saddam’s bodyguards in an attempt to fix his location. The forces were also aided from above by a surveillance airplane known as River Joint. Despite efforts to hunt down Saddam Hussein, the US forces inside Iraq were also assembled a guerrilla forces of Kurdish dissidents, and woo Iraqi tribal and military leaders to defect, and monitored the movements of the Iraqi National Guards.

The second war against Iraq which featured both air and ground operations and which saw the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime by force was with minimum casualties and shorter period. The prolonged house-by-house fighting to capture Baghdad that had been feared did not materialize. The reason: the solid work of US intelligence. American spies were in Baghdad long before the war began, contacting religious, military and government leaders, explaining the gains of non-resistance once the war start.

How did American spies get into Baghdad? Many anti-war Americans travelled to Iraq to serve as “human shields”. Some of these orchestrated human shields were CIA agents armed with cell phones, laptop computers, and an impressive rolodex. Once in Iraq, they began what amounted to a telemarketing campaign, calling Iraqi leaders and selling them on the benefits of surrender.

In the national security business, you never can be sure who your friends are. National interest determines what happens at any point in time. Nigeria as a strong force and voice in the Multinational Joint Task Force, comprising troops from Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin, set up to fight Boko Haram Islamists should see beyond a Nigerian Boko Haram and focused on fighting a multinational Boko Haram terrorist group that has link with ISIS and other enemies of the country.

As pointed out earlier, conventional armies geared to fight other armies find it difficult to fight terrorists, without retraining, reorientation, and motivation. Towards this end, President Muhammed Buhari should create a Special Operations Command of well trained, equipped and motivated soldiers and grant them authority to conduct regional and global operations against terrorist networks.

The Special Operations Command should be empowered with men, technology, fund and other resources to plan and carry out certain missions, covert operations, and quick strikes with “hunter-killer” teams, independent of the current established combatant commands.

These missions, of course will be tightly coordinated with the NIA and DSS operations. It also calls for prior diplomatic arrangements so that covert operations can enter countries quickly, carryout their mission, and promptly exits.

Personal interests of our leaders and fear of coup have robbed this country of viable security institutions. What happen to the Nigeria National Guards which was conceived in 1989 to be a Rapid Response Force to deal with emergencies, but killed and buried in 1993 under conflicting circumstances? My expectations, like that of many Nigerians, that the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army created in the peak of the war against Boko Haram will be a Special Operations Command was dashed when it turned out to be another regular Division of the Nigerian Army with no specialty.

Now that coups and the fear of coups in Nigeria are history can we look at national security for what it is? National security goes beyond mounting sentries at your borders and moving inside your country accusing citizens of aiding and abetting terrorism and intimidating them. Our agents must be equipped and encouraged to move out. Russians has a successful record of fighting terrorism because apart from combing its cities and towns for information of security interest, it also snoops around the world for intelligence. Our battles for security must be fought away from home; guided by the three keys to national security which have never changed since the origin of conflict:

  1. Maintain a strong military defense;
  2. Acquire the capacity to learn the secrets of enemies and potential enemies; and
  3. Keep our own secrets secret.

Nigeria must begin to exert and exercise her dominance powers in the West Africa sub-region and beyond, security wise.

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ONLINE SERVICE PROVIDERS MUST PROTECT CUSTOMERS’ PERSONAL INFORMATION

ONLINE SERVICE PROVIDERS MUST PROTECT CUSTOMERS’ PERSONAL INFORMATION

Identity theft refers to illegal acquisition of another individual’s personal information to be used fraudulently for illegal gain. Identity theft has become a problem in recent years and promises to become a bigger problem in the future. It is a global crime with fastest rising profile and costs. There are several ways in which an offender steals personal information and there are several types of crimes committed by using another person’s identity.

A con artist, in order to carry out an attack, would need neither a lot of money, nor proximity to his target. Information about you collected from public domains, from your friends, relations or colleagues, a look over your shoulder at the Bank’s ATM, a visit to the garbage of mortgage companies and department stores that throw away paperwork and receipts with customers’ social security numbers and other personal information on it is all he needs to tap into your real identity and files.

The invention of modern computers which simplify work, engender instantaneous communication, eliminate space and time and reduce costs, opened another dimension to identity theft and associated crimes. The internet extended the frontiers of identity theft, simplified methods of illegally obtaining personal information and opened windows for crime commission using another person’s identity.

Websites offer a wealth of personal information and this information is obtainable with little or no effort or cost to the predators.  Hackers also penetrate corporate databases and e-commerce websites from the comfort of their homes; so do skimmers and other sundry cyber criminals.

These unscrupulous predators, including con artists, professionals and telemarketers search the internet and other public domains ceaselessly for personal information to aid their legal or illegal practices. Researches have also proved that hackers’ groups control hundreds of automated search robot networks that could be used to gather personal information about individuals and or attack any systems.

The government is culpable in this act of illegally obtaining citizen’s personal information. In order to protect the public against variety of crimes and maintain national security against spies, saboteurs and terrorists, government plays prominent role in the intelligence community in counterintelligence and counterterrorism activity to identify, prevent and disrupt terrorists and other criminals.

In Nigeria, for instance, the government has put citizen’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts under the Department of State Services (DSS) surveillance. Through covert operations, which have been going on for a while, security agencies hack into the Facebook and Twitter accounts of those they are monitoring or on Watch List.

The project which is being coordinated by some foreign firms, including an Israeli firm, Elbit System involves hacking of phones, email accounts, social media accounts, and bugging of phone conversations of persons of interest. The technology has proved to be effective in assisting the security agencies to nip some crimes in the bud and frustrate many terror plots and attacks across the country; the electronic trackers have also been useful in tracking and apprehending kidnappers; and the electronic surveillance system is as well effective and has the capacity to hack emails, passwords, and social media accounts.

In all this, how secure is Nigeria visa vise foreign firms carrying out such sensitive security operations? Do we have the capacity to monitor movement of sensitive data? How protected is our national secrets? A nation’s secret is as important as individual’s personal information. Competitive confrontation on the international level becomes fierce with every passing day and information is the weapon of this warfare. Can we boast of being on top our national secrets when our arsenals are under the control of one or more of our competitors?

In the year 2000, it was reported in the British press that Israeli agents had been able to hack into the White House email system and recover information being sent from the President to Senior Staff in the National Security Council and outside government departments.

According to Michael Benson, Danny O. Coulson, and Allan Swenson (2003), “Agents were successfully able to infiltrate Telrad, a subcontractor of Nortel, the Telecommunications company that helped to develop the White House system”.

The report observed that chips installed during the development process enable data to be shunted to a secret Israeli computer in Washington. The information was then transferred to Tel Aviv several times a week.

The United States of America has developed and perfected software that can search email traffic for specific senders, recipients, and keywords. The email searching programme was originally called “Carnivore”, but later the name was changed to the less ominous DCS 1000. There is also another programme called “Magic Lantern”, which can record the number of keystrokes on targeted computers. This is useful in determining whether a computer is being used to send encoded messages.

The fear of a repeat 9/11 is the beginning of the dismantling of natural/fundamental human rights of individual and corporate Americans. Hitherto, human rights was the foundation of American national identity but, 9/11 helped to erode these rights, especially the right to privacy; it also made the whole world to surrender freedom in exchange for security, which government is finding very difficult and expensive to provide.

Governments all over the world today hide under the cover of terrorism and war against crimes to perpetuate all kinds of atrocities, including excessive taxations. Electronic listening and recording devices are placed here and there all over where valuable information may be recorded and used to obtain information of conversations at meetings, individual phone calls or other situations. Many types of bugs are today in use across the world.

If you are one of the many Nigerians who are unaware that they could be monitored even in the comfort of their homes; that their phone call conversations could be bugged and/or their emails, Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts could be hacked by government agencies, con artists, telemarketers, or professionals, then watch out!

Recently, I undertake an online registration with a University. In less than thirty minutes after filling and submitting the registration forms, I got offers from no fewer than twenty universities offering me place through emails and telephone calls.

How did these universities get my personal information such as name, telephone number, email address and so on? Is personal information about prospective, existing and previous students shared freely among institutions without the consent of the individual concern? Where a third party illegally obtained personal information, fraudulently utilize it, and the victim suffers loss who is to blame or who bears the cost? Are online service providers not supposed to provide efficient and effective information security for their customers, whether prospective, existing or previous? Citizens find themselves wrapped in an endless web, tossed by dangerous piercing weapons covertly monitoring all his activities from all angles – government security agencies, professionals, telemarketers and the ever increasing number of con artists.

Take the university system, for instance, we are aware that in the process of filling necessary documents and other requirements for admission and study several sensitive personal, financial and medical information are communicated online, which necessitate tertiary institutions to stay ahead of scammers to stop the abuse at the source. In other words, schools must design and institute a cybersecurity strategy to protect personal information system from intrusion and attack.

Apart from protecting database, it is the responsibility of institutions to check and block all avenues of information leakages online since there are many legal and illegal individuals and organizations that benefits therefrom, perhaps to the detriment of unsuspecting students.

Because there are many individuals and groups who might focus on illegal acquisition of other people’s personal information for fraudulent uses, online service providers must continue to develop more effective shields in various ways and places.

On the other hand, online forms and questionnaires should be designed as to reduce the amount of personal information that can be gathered by predators online if the connection security is not guaranteed. Thinking about what may be helpful to an adversary prior to posting any personal information to the web could eliminate much vulnerability. Reviewing all personal information for sensitivity and ensuring its protection before posting makes security sense.

If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, act quickly. The longer you wait the more damage can be done, and the harder and costly it will be to fix the damage that is repairable. Ensure that you report to relevant authorities immediately. These bodies may include but not limited to your bank(s), National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC), your social security providers, police, and other places you know or suspect that the offender can use the stolen information to perpetuate crime in your name.

Online service providers owe it a duty to protect personal information of their prospective, existing and previous customers. This they can do by ensuring that all online transactions are secure and are made over secure, encrypted connections.

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