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Published On: Sun, Dec 14th, 2014

‘Intelligence’ deficit of the war against terror (II)

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By Charles Onunaiju

Not quite a few perceptible observers were stunned when the raid of an opposition party’s data base facility by the department of state security (DSS) was widely reported in the media. The main State intelligence service agency (the DSS) has claimed that it raided the opposition party facility; because it received intelligence report that the opposition party was using the facility to allegedly clone the INEC permanent voters card (PVC) and hack into the data base of the electoral umpire. Many days and even weeks into the raid and after a second raid, the DSS has yet to process the intelligence report to prove the opposition party culpable of the alleged infraction and possibly prepare for prosecution.

However, the lightning speed at which the opposition party was pounced is exactly what has been lacking in the prosecution of a more heinous crime committed in the broad day light and on a sustainable basis by a terror group that wantonly sows death, destruction and agony across the country but more devastatingly in the North East region where the federal authorities have implemented state of emergency, i.e. total assumption of security responsibilities.

Even as in conventional warfare, intelligence gathering of the enemy is strategic to victory. The Chinese ancient military general, strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu in his classic commentary on the “Art of war” underscored that “what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer and achieve things beyond the reach of the ordinary men, is foreknowledge”. Sun Tzu’s compatriot and prolific poet, Mei Yaochen put it even more succinctly when he posited that “knowledge of the spirit world is to be obtained by divination, information in natural science may be sought by inductive reasoning; the laws of the universe can be verified by mathematical calculation but the dispositions of an enemy are ascertainable through spies and spies alone”.

          The Nigerian state has four main intelligence services or secret spy networks-namely, the department of State security service DSS otherwise called the SSS’ the directorate of military intelligence, (DMI) within the military, the criminal investigation department, (CID) within the police force and the Nigerian intelligence Agency, NIA, the external organ of the Nigerian espionage service. It befuddles common sense and assaults sensibilities of any observer that six years into a brutal war, wage by blood-sucking terrorists, there seems to be no intelligence trail into their activities, that have incrementally graduated from the deadly to a nightmare horror otherwise how would state intelligence networks exist without a trail to what seemed evidently an elaborate procurement by the terrorists of the deadly tools of their bloody trade. The Boko Haram terrorists who started their campaign with a string of motorcycles and even walk bare- footed’ now travel in a convoy of Hilux trucks, departing from a base or bases within, Nigeria or in the neighborhoods and returning to the same without a trail, because they operate from the same base or bases to another day of their bloody mayhem.

 How and where the terrorists procure the Hilux trucks and constantly fuel it for their murderous operations’ wouldn’t have eluded an intelligence service that is worth of its name and even modestly alive to its responsibility. And how has it come that it was the terrorist who have learned the crucial lesson of war, which the immortal 17th century German general and strategist Carl Von Clausewitz taught that “the backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy”. since the Boko Haram terrorists unleashed their bloody campaign, they have retained the initiative to surprise, by effectively “fusing speed with secrecy,” with the state security forces only responding and in most cases, very feebly too. The intelligence services of the state security have largely been dormant. The Boko Haram has evidently grown in sophistication, having now the use of advance military explosives that could be detonated with remote control, when they actually started with crudely made explosives using gas cylinders.

 A group that is under the trail of a competent intelligence service could not have in the past few years grown from a ragtag, wandering under -nourished and illiterate band of bigoted extremists to a sophisticated and highly mobile strike force. In the past few years, the state security services have announced the capture of high valued terrorist commanders, including the allegedly propaganda chief of the group, “Abu Qaqa” and yet none of these high valued commanders have provided any useful insight into the operations of the group. The key to decisive victory in a war and even more strategic, in asymmetric guerrilla war fare is cutting the supply line of the insurgents or the enemy. Only by securing the supply lines of the insurgents or the conventional enemy, would it possible to squeeze them to surrender or subject them to the siege of hunger.

 Charles Onunaiju is reachable on

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