Keep public guard up against terrorists

Reports of joint operation by Uganda’s security organisation that averted a recent planned attack on Kampala is laudable. For now, Ugandans must breathe a sigh of relief that the Joint Ant-terrorism Task Force (JATT), have outwitted the masterminds of attacks on Uganda. But this must not tempt us into a false sense of security.

Over several months this year, JATT have warned of specific threats of attacks on Uganda. But because nothing came of the threats, Ugandans relaxed. But this failed plot must remind us that the terrorists are bent on harming Ugandans.

And the arrest of several terror suspects at the weekend must echo the deadly risk Ugandans face from the al-Shabaab.

Let’s remember the catastrophic al-Shabaab terrorists’ twin bombing of Kyadondo Rugby Grounds and Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala on July 11, 2010. Then, 78 people died and scores injured in the bombings as fans watched the football World Cup finals hosted by South Africa.

So Ugandans must always be on the lookout against terrorists. This requires the population to be vigilant because the security agencies will not be everywhere and at all times. Reports that the suspects, most of Somali and Eritrean origin, found haven in city suburbs of Kisenyi, Nakulabye, Kasubi, Nateete, and Busega, means terrorists will set up terror cells in our neighbourhood.

As police deputy spokesperson Polly Namaye said, the terrorists do not work alone but will connive with groups within and outside Uganda.

But this must also not lead to ethnic profiling of Somali and Eritreans in Uganda. It is unfortunate that some of these immigrants may pass for suspects as they do not have genuine identification documents and have some compatriots engaged in terrorism.

This is why the handling of the terror threats and suspects by JATT must be above question even as it seeks to protect Ugandans. In this regard, JATT must ensure the suspects being held are genuinely linked to terrorists and not mere victims of immigration laws.

The current operation has also not prepared Ugandans to the huge threat of terror that has been uncovered. Yet whenever such threats arose, citizens are alerted, security personnel presence is visible, and vehicles are checked.

News that the suspects entered Uganda without passports from Kenya and South Sudan points to the unlikely entry points the terrorists can use to enter Uganda. This is why JATT should monitor Uganda’s porous border crossing points and re-activate citizens watch hotlines to report suspected terror-linked activities.

JATT must remember terrorists have no formation and frontline. The public is the first line of defence.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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