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UN Links Terrorism in Africa to Organized Crime

  • Larry Freund

The United Nations Security Council pointed Monday to the connection between terrorism in Africa and organized crime, and called for a strengthened global response.
The 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted a statement declaring its deep concern for what it calls the increasing violence perpetrated by armed groups, the number of which, it said, are growing in several regions and sub-regions of Africa.
The council approved the statement during a discussion of the fight against terrorism in Africa. In expressing its concern about the connection between terrorism and transnational organized crime, and with illicit activities such as drugs, arms and human trafficking, the Security Council urged enhanced coordination to strengthen a global response.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council that terrorism is a threat to Africa’s peace, security and development, although he pointed toward important progress toward stability in Somalia and the deployment of a peacekeeping operation to support Mali’s transitional authorities.
“Military advances, important as they are, will not by themselves bring an end to terrorism in Africa. This struggle must go forward on many fronts, including by addressing the conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism," he said.
The Security Council discussion was organized by Togo, which holds the Council presidency this month. Togo’s president, Faure Gnassingbe, said it is extremely urgent to find ways to stem what he called this new wave of criminal-narco-terrorist groups. He spoke through a translator.
“Only a multi-faceted response, which is no longer strictly military, only this multi-faceted response will make it possible to hold back these criminal-narco-terrorist groups. It is crucial to combine security issues with development issues as well as with the promotion of human rights," he said.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Security Council there has been progress over the past year in the fight against terrorism in Africa. Somalia and Mali, she said, show how international and regional cooperation and action can help to weaken terrorist groups. Yet, she added, al-Qaida and affiliated groups remain dangerous.
“Building state capacity to fight terrorists and enlisting communities in this fight remains indispensable. But we must be wary of repressive approaches, which often fuel the very radicalization they seek to eliminate. Indeed, reducing the threat of terrorism in Africa demands a broader effort to create freer, more prosperous and tolerant societies in which radicalization is rare, opportunity is palpable and hope thrives," she said.
The United States, Rice continued, is working to empower citizens, promote good governance, strengthen human rights and the rule of law, and boost economic growth and development.