Compromising And Neglecting Security Intelligence: Threat To National Security – By Terfa Naswem
Every net has holes. But Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen attacks have shown gaping ones in Nigerian intelligence agencies. Can they be fixed?
Intelligence process includes requirements, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, dissemination and consumption, and feedback. The details of this process are made secret by the various intelligence agencies for their effective operations to smoke out terrorists and those that are potential threats.
The State Security Service (SSS), military intelligence among other intelligence agencies in Nigeria have intelligence network system which information about a particular entity is collected through the use of more than one, inter-related source. They gather intelligence to build up a detailed knowledge of threats to Nigeria both from within and internationally, and the assessment and investigation process helps to make decision about how they should respond. They have all it takes to infiltrate Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and any organization that pose a threat to Nigeria’s security, unity and progress. But corruption, tribalism, ethnicity among others which lead to negligence; these agencies have been seriously compromised with irrefutable intelligence swept under the rug.
The State Security Service (SSS), self-styled as the Department of State Services (DSS), is the primary domestic intelligence agency of Nigeria and is primarily responsible for intelligence gathering within the country and for the protection of Nigerians and foreigners in Nigeria and work in collaboration with other domestic and international intelligence and security agencies including Interpol among others. Their primarily responsibility is also to detect plots and stop them before the attackers hit their targets not to wait until the attacks strike before looking for ways to curb it or prevent future attacks. They also have extraordinary task of anticipating various damaging events and creating various counter measures to prevent such anticipated events from hitting the ground when terrorists and others are working on such anticipated events to carry out their attacks.
I understand very perfectly how intelligence operation works. There is no threat in Nigeria that DSS, military intelligence among others cannot prevent or bring to an end. The late Head of State of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha said, “If insurgency last in any country for more than 24 hours, it means the government has a hand in it”. I think he was not far from the truth. The fight to end Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen attacks by these agencies has been compromised, and something is seriously wrong somewhere.
Pooling information is logistically difficult; given that the Nigerian intelligence community consists of different autonomous agencies which have further compounded the situation by other factors.
In January 2000 a group of al-Qaeda operatives met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to plot the attack on the U.S.S Cole. Malaysian authorities caught the meeting on a surveillance videotape and turned it over to the CIA. In the summer of 2001 the agency identified one of the attendees as al-Midhar, a Saudi who intelligence officials thought had entered the U.S. shortly after the meeting and left six months later. The CIA put his name on a watch list and handed it over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service-but by then al-Midhar had slipped back into the U.S. Within the next few days, the CIA briefed the FBI on al-Midhar. FBI officials say they initiated a frantic manhunt for al-Midhar but never found him. On Sept.11, 2001, authorities believe, he flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Al-Midhar bought his Sept. 11 airline ticket under his own name, but American Airlines officials say no government authorities informed them he was on a terrorism watch list.
The Nigerian intelligence agencies have been criticized for failing to infiltrate Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen who all display acts of terror. Experts say Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are working to find ways to inflict more irreparable damage on Nigerians which the agencies are still not doing all it can to protect Nigerians.
That Al-Midhar could elude three Federal agencies, all of which knew his identity and the danger he posed shows what happens when intelligence agencies are compromised and intelligence swept under the rug. This is the same situation going on in Nigeria now among intelligence agencies. And many Nigerians have lost faith in our intelligence agencies in protecting them not as a result of their ineptitude but their compromise and negligence.
The leadership of Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore issued a threat to attack Benue State (which these agencies were aware) and still successfully carried out such attacks. Even without issuing threats, the DSS, military intelligence among others have the capability to detect such plot. The leaders of this association and most of their members have shown terrorism tendencies. What stops the DSS, military intelligence among others to swing into action? This is where conspiracy, compromise and negligence play central roles.
Nigerian intelligence officials remain “blind” to this deficiency but the proper focus of intelligence agencies should be “the pursuit of the secret” in defence of Nigerians. As long as Nigerian intelligence continues to peer in compromise and negligence, they may be unwilling to discover what Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and other violent-prone organizations and individuals are hatching right in our backyard.