The Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) revealed that it plans to establish a counter terrorism centre, by the end of the year.
Commander Abebe Muluneh, Director of IGAD Peace and Security Division, told Capital that the centre’s plan is to have a common information sharing, intelligence gathering, capacity building, training and public mobilization base to prevent terrorism. The centre is expected to be located in Addis Ababa.
The counter terrorism centre’s establishment requires the consent of each member state and the idea is expected to be raised at a high level parliamentarian conference in June 2013.
The announcement was made at the sidelines of the first IGAD Security Sector Program (ISSP) conference held in Addis Ababa on February 19.
The ISSP was launched in October 2011 to implement the decision of IGAD member states in restructuring the IGAD Capacity Building Program Against Terrorism (ICPAT) with a broader mandate.
It aims at building national capacity to resist terrorism and other related crimes and in promoting regional security cooperation.
It has four main pillars; Counter terrorism (CT), Transnational Organized Crime (TOC), Maritime Security (MS) and Security Institutions Capacity Building (SICB).
ICPAT, the precursor of ISSP, was launched in 2006 with the aim of building national capacity to resist terrorism, and promoting regional security cooperation with five main components:
Enhancing judicial capacity; optimizing intergovernmental cooperation; enhancing border control; providing training and promoting strategic cooperation.
On the home front, Abebe said, “Al Shabab militants in Somalia have yet to be eradicated although they are defeated and have become decentralized.” He added that these militants were trying, together with “Harakat Mujahedeen”, to create terror in the region.
“Harakat Mujahedeen” refers to a group recently nabbed by the Ethiopian government. A documentary was recently aired on Ethiopian Television relating to more than a dozen Muslim suspects who were accused of being part of the Harakat Mujahedeen group trying to expand Islamic extremism and instigate terrorist activity in Ethiopia, in collaboration with other foreign militant groups.
Mahboub Maalim (Eng.), Executive Secretary of IGAD, stated that the problems identified under ISSP are not only about illegal activities, but also about looking at its social angle as well as its cross cutting nature.
The ISSP meeting was attended by six IGAD members as well as representatives from donor countries including the US Embassy and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.
IGAD is still officially composed of seven member countries, but the red sea nation of Eritrea is presently suspended, although it has repeatedly requested to be re-admitted.
Eritrea was suspended because of its “support” for militant groups in Somalia as well as for its “attack” on its neighbour, Djibouti.
The other six IGAD members are Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and the newly independent Republic of South Sudan.