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Fortified borders won’t stop possible terror attacks – security analyst warns

A security expert has rejected suggestions that a lack of fortified security at Ghana’s borders is a major setback in efforts to parry possible terror attacks on the country.

Dr Vladmir Antwi-Danso points out that although the country’s porous borders weakens its defence against enemies, that should not be the immediate focus of security agencies in the quest for a sustained strategy to deal with possible acts of terrorism in Ghana.

Although the country’s porous borders have been blamed for proliferation of small arms and cited as major threat to security, he notes that if sophisticated gadgets and heavy security boots at the country’s entry points were guarantees against attacks, countries like the United States and the Britain – who invest millions of dollars in defence – would have been impregnable.

“Fighting terrorism does not need the [visible] presence of men and women in the Armed Forces, no. Terrorism festers even when you have lined up security gadgets and institutions,” he said, adding public knowledge and vigilance about the modus operandi of terrorists would be a better defence against attacks.

Dr Vladmir Antwi-Danso

The renowned expert, a Senior Research Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, was commenting on renewed fears that Ghana could be the next target for terror attacks following recent strikes in neigbouring Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire.

Attacks on Cote D’Ivoire last Sunday in three hotels in the beach resort city of Grand-Bassam claimed 16 lives, while in January a similar attack at a hotel in Ouagadougou killed 28 people and injured a further 56.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for both attacks that targeted foreign nationals.

Ghana has since been on high security alert after the siege on its neighbours, with many analysts doubtful about the country’s ability to forestall a possible attack.

Parliament on Monday, March 14 met with top security chiefs to discuss the country’s preparedness to respond to a possible terror threat.

“Mainstreaming terrorism in our daily lives – when we are able to identify things that are untoward, things that are not necessarily in our everyday social and economic lives – that is the most important thing in fighting terrorism,” says Antwi-Danso.

“We are just very loose. The whole society’s security is more on regime security and that is very unfortunate. The best security is when citizens are very savvy about their surroundings and are able to report to institutions that are billed to keep our security. So I am not for manning our borders,” he adds.

He also charged security agencies to identify and cut likely support systems of terrorist organisations in the country since that has always proved more effective.

Activities such as money laundering, drug trafficking and gun running, which are usually backed by sophisticated equipment, he notes, are the main life support for any terrorist organisation.

Dr Antwi-Danso also admonished security agencies to look beyond possible attacks on hotels or restaurants popular with foreigners even though recent attacks by AQIM have targeted such locations. He said strikes on the country’s power installations – which usually have lax security – are equally possible.

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