The terrorists attack in Sri Lanka should serve as a wake-up call to Nigeran government to strengthen citizens awareness, elevate warning and enhance its intelligence capabilities at all levels. Also, other Countries in Africa vulnerable to such an attack should follow the same process and heed this timely warning. Most importantly countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and Mali should intensify intelligence and preparedness. At this moment of uncertainty, policing and intelligence, rather than military force, should form the backbone of Nigeria’s efforts against Boko Haram/ISWAP.
Although, the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has come forward to claim responsibility for Sri Lanka attacks without evidence to support the claim. We know that ISIS has lost physical territory, but the ideology of the group resonate in the heart and minds of its members and sympathizers around the world. It is vital to recognize the fact that ISIS may not be able to launch direct attacks of Sri Lanka’s proportion in America and European soil. The group will most likely target Western interest all over the world including allies nations in Africa. As such, “lone wolf” or group attacks against soft targets such as market place, worship center, hotels, tourism centers or transportation system is possible.
Also, it is essential to note that religiously motivated terrorists are bad candidates for deterrence. They will make several attempts, and it takes terrorist only once chance to make a statement like what we recently saw in Sri Lanka. Terrorists can attack anything, anywhere, any time while it is almost impossible to protect everything, everywhere, all the time. What the government can do is to minimize the effect through our vigilance and mitigation. Hence, the security approach must be proactive and reactive.
Finally, a need exists for the Nigerian government to understand where to prioritize its efforts with limited resources and attention. The current threats require multinational effort and cooperation.
Oludare Ogunlana Ph.D.
Counterterrorism Policy Expert