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By David Otto
TGS Counter Terrorism Expert
31st Jan. 2016 - 12:00 noon.

"As flies to wanton boys, are we to these ideological and power driven mongers - they kill us for their sport" (Shakespeare paraphrased - King Lear ).

The characteristic western media policy to ignore past and recent major terrorists attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon , Kenya... tells a story of its own dimension to the meaning of life as relative term in one part of the globe as opposed to another.

It is now clearer to me , more than ever before that Terrorism and Insurgency in MENA and Sub Saharan Africa in particular is obvious cruelty and senseless brutality of humanity. As flies to wanton boys, are we to these ideological and power driven mongers - they kill us for their sport (Shakespeare paraphrased-King Lear ). The most powerful weapon that can be deployed rapidly against them is public awareness - see something , say something now.

​By David Otto Endeley.
TGS Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert
Website :
twitter: @ottotgs
Facebook : TGS Intelligence Consultants


20th January 2016

11:00am GMT.
  1. The most visible terrorist groups in the region.
  2. The most vulnerable targets to watch out for.
  3. The most common tactics used by insurgents/terrorist.
  4. The most vulnerable African countries facing terrorism in 2016 <.

• Boko Haram , Alshabaab both linked to ISIL and Alqaeda (AQIM) remain the most visible and deadly terrorists groups in Africa. Al Murabitoun of Mokhtar Belmokhtar's which claimed responsibility for the recent Mali and Burkina Faso hotel attacks is a group to keep an eye on after it split from AQIM.

• The most common targets remain soft and crowded areas - Market places , hotels ( mostly those attracting western visitors ) restaurants , stadiums, places of worship, Cinemas, and other social gatherings. Hard targets including police stations, army barracks, critical infrastructures have occasionally been attacked.

• Suicide bombing using improvised explosive devices-IEDs - and vehicular Improvised explosive devices- VIEDS - is the most common tactics along side weapon assault on unsuspecting targets.

• Young and vulnerable women are most likely to be used for suicide bombings although young men are equally at risks. There are no particular known profiles for suicide bombers but recently - young women have been over used by terrorists groups like Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, Northern Cameroon , Niger , Chad, Mali....

• Nigeria, Cameroon , Libya , Algeria, Niger , Chad, Mali, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, CAR, South Sudan , Sudan , Burkina Faso... Remain the most affected and fragile zones for Salafist jihadist terrorism in 2016 nod for the next 5 years . Other vulnerable states include Ghana, Gambia, Gabon, Burundi, Ethiopia...

By David Otto
Image courtesy of Ngum Ngafor - Africallyspeaking.
TGS Counterterrorism and Organised crime Expert
Twitter: @ottotgs

7 JAN 2016.


Looking below - the first 3 are the old or sick, they dictate the pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way round, they would be left behind, vulnerable and losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed for the rest. Then come 5 strong ones, the front line to protect the old or the sick. In the center are the rest of the pack members - consisting of the young and she-wolves - then the 5 strongest following right behind for full protection. Last is alone, the alpha male. He controls everything from the rear. In that vantage position he can see everything, decide the direction of movement. He also sees all of the pack. The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other."

Cesare Brai's photo.

Moral lesson : Mankind must endeavour to adapt to "a wolf pack " strategy if it is to succeed in addressing its peculiar security problems in this 21st century. The strong must protect the weak and vulnerable.

David Otto
TGS Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert

24 Dec.2015

“Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents” (Juan Cole).

The human race is under attack by violent extremist, anarchist and criminals from all angles of the globe in the name of religion and complete blind trust from leaders, that followers need not find time nor reason to think for themselves - a point at which religion truly becomes evil in the eyes of ordinary observers. As the festive period approaches its peak - Dec.2015 - millions of unsuspecting worshippers heavily armed with holy books - Bibles, Korans… and young children are making genuine preparations to visit various places of worship. Their reasons are as diverse in thought and expectations as religion itself. Some people have been visiting places of worship from birth and hold that as a genuine reason; Some visit to give thanks to one supreme immortal God for their life blessings; others to ask for forgiveness for their past year ‘sins’; for some denominations - to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ – born to die in order for mankind to be saved; others to seek for new year beginnings and receive in spirit, a road map and clear guidance from the supreme immortal being – God.

In recent, as in historical times, a familiar visitor in places of worship - violent extremist, anarchists and criminal gangs comprised of men and women of no particular age or background - are equally making preparations to attend services in places of worship – heavily armed , their weapon of choice – AK47s… IEDs, VIEDs; suicide bombings; Cutlasses & machetes; the reason for attending is not to pray or ask for any kind of forgiveness like the former. It is simply to inflict terror by killing as many innocent people as possible (worshippers, religious leaders) using religion as justification for their atrocities and injustices.

Does any religion hold monopoly to violence?

It is widely argued that;

“More wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. The sad truth continues in our present day” (Charles Kimball). And “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. “(Blaise Pascal 1623-1662).

It therefore requires a huge percentage of intellectual blindness to assume that Christians of Western or European heritage are the ‘good’ and ‘peace loving’ guys and Muslims are inherently evil and violent. If one were to look back at the European Christian nations conquering of Africa and the eventual slavery and the period of inquisition – non- believers in Christ were tortured and executed for refusing to accept Jesus Christ as saviour. There should be no excuses or finger pointing of one religious group against another. Killing under the banner of any religion at any time is forbidden, abhorrent and should be condemned.

Why do terrorists, anarchist or criminals attack places of worship?

“When the hoped-for ideal is tied to a particular religious worldview and those who wish to implement their vision become convinced that they know what God wants for them and everyone else, you have a prescription for disaster” (Charles Kimball).

Bombings and attacks in places of worship for whatever reason other than reasonable self-defense is condemned by the laws of God/Allah and the laws of man. A number of coordinated attacks illustrate that places of worship are not an ‘accidental guerilla’ against attacks by terrorists or other fanatics.

June 2015 - Charleston, South Carolina, U.S, a lone gunman opened random fire in a black church and killed 9 people. In Oct. 2015, a gunman stormed Turning Point Adventist Community Church in Roseburg, Ore, U.S and killed at least 9 members of the congregation.
2014- Boko Haram fighters set fire on five churches in communities south of Borno, namely Kwajaffa, Tashan Alade and some communities in Hawul Local Government Area in the southern part of the state.
January 5, 2012- Gunmen attacked a church in Gombe State. Reports of the number killed vary between three and six. Boko Haram was suspected of carrying out the attack.
January 6, 2012 - Shooting at a church in Yola. Eight people were killed. Boko Haram was suspected of carrying out the attack.
February 26, 2012 - A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed six Christians in an attack at a church in Jos, Plateau State.
March 11, 2012 - A suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber killed three civilians in a bombing outside a church in Jos. Christian youths killed at least ten people in reprisal attacks.
April 8, 2012 (Easter Day) - A suicide bomber in a vehicle detonated explosives near a church in Kaduna killing at least 38 people. Boko Haram was suspected of carrying out the attack.
April 29, 2012 - Suspected Boko Haram gunmen attacked a church in Kano and Maiduguri, killing at least 15 and 4 people respectively.
June 3, 2012- A suicide bomber killed at least 12 people at a church in the northern town of Yelwa, Bauchi State. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack.
June 17, 2012 - Coordinated suicide car bombings of three churches in the neighboring cities of Zaire and Kaduna in Kaduna State.
September 23, 2012 - A suicide bomber blows up his explosives-laden car near a church in the city of Bauchi, killing a female worshipper and her son and injuring dozens.
October 28, 2012 - Ten killed and 145 injured in a suicide bomb attack on a church in Kaduna.
January 19, 2011- Deeper Life Christian Church pastor and three of his neighbours are killed by fundamentalists.
May 11, 2011 - Boko Haram gunmen kill a cleric, Mallam Alhaji Abur, who was a critic of the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
July 10, 2011- Bombing of the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State, killing 3 people and wounding 7 others.
December 25, 2011- Multiple bomb attacks against churches and Christian worshippers throughout Nigeria.
November 19, 2010- Suspected Boko Haram members open fire in a mosque during Juam'at prayer. Three persons are killed in the process.

None of these attacks can be reasonably justified. It is worth mentioning key reasons why places of worship generally fall victims to attacks by terrorists or criminals.
  1. Places of worship are seen as representing the physical address of a different religion to that of the perpetrator and therefore a target for attack.
  2. Revenge attacks: Muslims or Christians have justified attacking or burning down places of worship of the ‘other’ religion as a revenge for experiencing a similar act on their premise. In some occasions places of worship have been under attack as a result of the killing of a Christian or Muslim by a member of one of the denominations.
  3. The spiritual leader of the targeted place of worship preaches or promotes a system of religion/worship that is considered contrary or opposing to that of the perpetrator.
  4. They have members who are seen as inferior or apostates to the perpetrator’s religion. Or are simply seen to harbour such members in their premises.
  5. They house valuable assets and money needed by the perpetrators to service their group or sect.
  6. Places of worship have little physical security making them naturally soft targets and vulnerable to any type of attacks.
  7. They are good targets for maximum media propaganda needed to score the attacker or group global recognition.

Solutions: How to mitigate against attacks.

To those who believe that a supreme immortal being – God- exist and the same God created humans and bestowed upon them the free will to know right from wrong and good from evil; they must remember that as mortals we have the first responsibility and duty to protect ourselves, possessions, places of worship, assets from any man made physical harm or attacks irrespective of where that harm takes place. Prayers alone will not protect us from the evil of men.

There is no doubt that places of worship are a soft and valuable target for both terrorist and criminal gangs especially during festive periods and significant religious events. Now that Christmas and New Year celebrations are approaching with full speed, all religious leaders, worshippers and State security services must take full responsibility to work hand in gloves to mitigate against any potential attacks at places of worship by carrying out the following proposed security measures.
  1. All places of worship should introduce a well-tailored security awareness ‘training the trainer’ program provided by both internal and external qualified bodies– A basic program should cover : How to carry out basic risk assessment of the premises; How to spot vulnerabilities, suspicious behaviours, suspect packages, stranger dangers, enemies from within etc. The best way to achieve the above is by using sermons, allocated seminars and presentations tailored to the audience and delivered by trained internal or external bodies.
  2. All places of worship should have a comprehensive security policy designed, supervised and managed by an appointed security committee head. The committee should in the best, include a security consultant with specialized knowledge of the subject matter. Selected, trained competent members of the congregation must play a key role in the activities of the security committee. Members of the committee must be security vetted by an independent body, ideally the local police service and trained to a high standard of security alertness and stranger danger etc.
  3. Operationally, the committee must ensure that the premises or any part of a premise is secured and locked before and after use. Windows and doors should be regularly checked against any vulnerabilities. Any vandalism or break-in should not be concluded as ‘theft motivated’ simply because valuable items were stolen. High quality locking mechanisms should be introduced and key holders must be highly vetted. Access to the premises should not be possible by a single key holder.
  4. ‘Knowing your neighbour as yourself’ should be promoted between worshippers. The security committee should have a ‘membership registration service’ for both old and new members. Permanent seat allocation should be considered where feasible. The in-house data generated must be securely kept to avoid fire, flood or cyber damages. Because these records are highly sensitive and subject to abuse, steps must be implemented to guard against such practices by anyone within or without the committee or places of worship.
  5. For the benefit of all, worshippers should be encouraged to know (At least by their real names rather than aliases) their immediate worship neighbours and share in their daily pains and gains. This will create an atmosphere of free interaction between worshippers.
  6. All new worshippers and visitors MUST register to the allocated security desk prior to attending worship service. Character references should be made available to ascertain identity of any new member or visitor. Ideally existing worshippers should vouch for new members or visitors.
  7. Worshippers or visitors should be encouraged to avoid carrying large bags, briefcases or obscure items to places of worship – Those who carry bags or any other item should be properly scanned using approved metal detectors and bag scanners irrespective of their position in church or community. A separate room for large items should be considered – a reasonable distance from the worship premises.
  8. The attitude of ‘Park as you like’ should stop. Vehicle owners should be allocated parking spaces away from the actual places of worship. These vehicles should equally be scanned using appropriate and approved metal detectors and underbody vehicle scanners before they are cleared for parking. Ideally, Automatic Vehicle Number Plate Recognition System should be used (AVNPRS) for record keeping. All car parks must be manned by trained security operatives – car parks must be security cleared before and after services. To avoid unnecessary congestion around the premises and car parks, members that live within walking distances from the place of worship should be encouraged to walk.
  9. To mitigate against the possibility of a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) at places of worship, where necessary, the security committee should seriously consider appropriate security Bullard’s. These Bullard’s prevent forced gate crashing by a potential suicide bomber with a vehicle loaded with IEDs.
  10. Places of worship should prioritize investing in high quality CCTV cameras with off premise control room capabilities. Obscured places including toilets, storage spaces, under seats, compartments must be security checked for any hidden devices or packages and cleared before and after each service. All checks must cover internal and external perimeter including; fencing patrol, access control, burglar and fire alarms, vulnerable external and internal points. For effective results, the services of a trained security personnel with the knowledge and capability should ideally be sort.
  11. Approved building permission should be granted to restrict random make- shift dilapidated houses used as places of worship. A well-structured building will ensure security of members and staff and provide a standard platform to implement strict security measures. Church leaders must have a minimal duty of care and responsibility to the safety and security of their members and visitors when in their premises.
  12. During service, vigilance, overt and covert communication is key from Imams, Pastors, Priests… members of the congregation and security officers. Ideally to avoid unwarranted sharp shooters bursting into places of worship during ongoing services– a policy to refuse members (old and new) from gaining access to a place of worship more than 30mins after commencement of service should be introduced. Odd behaviours such as people pacing around or in the premises, running out or towards the premises, leaving bags or other items unattended should immediately alert security attention.
  13. Worshippers should leave the place of worship immediately after service and avoid loitering or creating clusters around the worship premises – a ready target for suicide bombers and other attacks.
  14. Terrorist groups survive on resources such as money, food and expensive artifacts. Places of worship deal hugely in cash and store thousands of expensive valuables from members and other donors in known locations. It is therefore a very soft target and good source for terrorist needing cash and valuable to sustain the movement. Therefore securing your cash and valuables must be top priority by well-trained security operatives with the required capability. Cash or valuables must not stay in the premises for an agreed amount of time. The necessary cash securing and transit measures should be put in place or improved.
  15. General security must be taken very seriously and places of worship are advised to seek expert security opinion on mitigation techniques and the implementation or formation of an in-house security committee.
  16. A crisis management procedure must be introducedto cover the following key areas; How to react and stay calm but vigilant during an incident; Mastering your exit strategy; Active shooting & taking cover techniques; Surviving fire hazards; Lockdown mechanism, and staying safe; Making life or death choices- plead – flee - or fight scenarios; Using emergency press buttons and making calls etc. Overcrowding the scene of an accident or explosion should be avoided by all members and visitors.
  17. As a multi agency approach is needed for maximum security, it is invaluable that places of worship must liaise directly through the security committee channel and work hand in gloves with the state security services. A referral procedure should be agreed and designed. Information sharing should be established based on TRUST and agreed protocols. The place of worship should NOT be a spy agent for the state.
  18. PRAYERS alone from the man of God cannot stop attacks. Worshippers are edged to exercise extreme vigilance during and after festive periods.

This is not an exhaustive list of security measures that places of worship can adopt. Seeking expert and professional opinion is highly advisable at all levels. There is no known full proof against attacks in places of worship. A 100% security mitigation is not achievable but worshippers have to remember that terrorist and criminals just need one loose opportunity to get lucky – worshippers on the other hand, have to be lucky all the times. A joint multi-agency approach between religious leaders, members of the congregation, external security consultants and the local police will make places of worship a hard target for terrorists and criminals at all times.

The above measures are simply preventive measures that really do not address the underlying causal facts of attacks in places of worship. A more proactive step should encourage all religions to come together and establish an effective communication platform that will promote the detailed understanding of each faith through interfaith dialogues and social interactions groups. Without such platforms, the sensitivity and vulnerability of religion and its preaching of peace and justice will be hijacked by extremist, criminals and anarchist and used as an excuse to kill innocent people in places of worship.

The good God/Allah can only help those who help themselves. Proactive prevention is always better than 'fire fighting'.

By David Otto
TGS Counter terrorism & organized crime expert
General inquiries:


By David Otto
Counter terrorism & organised crime expert.
21 Dec.2015 - 9.00am GMT

The world is at the tail end of the 2015 global 'war on terror'. After all the continuous, confusing and conflicting efforts of U.S /Western and Russian coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Syria & Iraq; ISIL and Al-Qaida driven terror attacks in France, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, U.K. and U.S - the recent and numerous hoax bomb scare on air France between Nov & Dec. 2015 - Alshabaab and al-Qaida motivated terror display in Mali, Kenya & Somalia - and continuous Boko Haram/ ISWAP attacks in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon - Niger and Chad... - it seems the world is not getting any safer and our decision makers any wiser to comprehend how deep and determined this 21st century fourth generation global jihadist/ Islamic revivalism has come to stay permanently and terrorise world peace at a scale never experienced or imagined before in human history of terror.

The truth is bitter but must be promoted in 2016 if we are to experience any positive results - First, we are not winning the war on terror since the 9/11 reactive 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and thereof - A tooth for a tooth is not the way forward with this bunch on the global arena. We seem to exhibit all characteristics of insanity if we continue to use the same failing strategy - obviously not successful by any measuring rod or statistics - and expecting different but positive results. In this case of global war against Salafist Jihadist, the expectation of winning is not happening. That expected glorious day - looking more like a fairy tale or Utopia in all shapes and form may never 'come back home' with peace as a consequence to show.

Secondly, let it be known - there are now about 15 different Salafist Jihadi related terrorists groups - including Taliban, Liwa al - Umma, Jaish al- Islam , Al-Qaida core and affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra - queuing to champion the idea of an Islamic State or something similar if and when ISIL is eventually defeated. This unexhausted list does not include deadly Salafist Jihadist groups like Boko Haram/ISWAP and Al-Shabaab/ISEAP in West, Central and East Africa making life unbearable for the African states that receive little or no global attention besides here and there unhelpful foreign aid.

The timetable or prospect for defeating ISIL is still so farfetched it cannot be reasoned to even exist considering the current counterproductive strategy of coalition airstrikes which only plays into the narrative of ISIL and gives them more recruitment fronts and needed propaganda globally to radicalise more militants. Thirdly, it remains a fact that coalition powers are awfully split in their respective strategies spending more time, energy and resources fighting each other using propaganda and airstrikes - if one coalition state trespassed into another's airspace for 17 seconds – this sort of reactive display only makes ISIL stronger and more unified in the quest for an Islamic State. ISIL seems more unified in its quest despite obvious cracks with AI-Qaida affiliates but the Western coalition headed by U.S versus the Russia coalition are deeply divided in their approach to defeating ISIL and most basically in distinguishing between terrorist and freedom fighters in the Syrian crisis.

In any event, just like the U.S and NATO ‘shadow’ defeat of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 put Al-Qaeda on the global map, defeating ISIL in Iraq and Syria will not by any means end global jihadist related terrorism- another terrorist group, maybe more deadly will simply emerge and take over the race of Islamic revivalism from ISIL - I have a strong sense of fear that a potential political vacuum in Syria will create such a group if the President Assad transition saga is badly managed either by the UN, Russian or U.S coalition. Getting to agree on the right and safest strategic approach in Syria is a war on its own that needs ground troops to be deployed – there is no winner.

Do not be totally swayed by obvious pessimistic omens. All hope is not lost if solution providers and those who make decisions on our behalf agree that tackling a disease like ISIL is good - but it is a reactive strategy. On the other hand, tackling the cause of that disease is
much better and - a proactive strategy. Our states have the duty and moral responsibility to keep its citizens safe by tackling the cause of the disease of ISIL, Taliban, Boko Haram, and Alshabaab and al-Qaida related groups. Tackling the disease without tacking the cause is not a sustainable strategy as the cause of the disease must be dealt with for peace to reign.

The cause of ISIL 'Disease'.

The best way forward is to go backwards and perhaps, address the old political /religious rivalry between the Sunni-Shiite in the Middle East - starting with rival states like Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia. This seems a better solution strategy that could pave the way for an end to jihadist related conflicts or sectarian wars - a phenomenon that has gained grounds in Northern Nigeria and made frontline news in recent weeks. I see no realistic future in this approach either.

However there is one fundamental problem with this approach - politics, economic and personal interest is an elephant in the room. With politics in the way of global peace, we are miles away from reaching a success story against global jihadist and Islamic revivalism. Yes, we cannot fold our arms and watch but we cannot equally bomb our way into groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda and emerge victorious when we are not even united in our approach and objectives. Airstrikes alone are inherently counterproductive because Innocent casualties a bound despite the fictional talk of intelligent bombs used in the world of high technology. The blind reliance on dodgy alliances – on ‘moderates’ as opposed to ‘extremist’- in Syria and Iraq will keep ISIL more powerful and optimistic and of course enhance their much needed capabilities in weapon acquisition. The truth is an open secret - the world is at the edge of the highest cliff; success can no longer be measured by taking steps forward. We must use the coming year of 2016 to go back to the drawing board and rethink a better global Counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategy. This is the mind-set solution providers must have in head and hand when entering 2016 if we are expecting any long lasting global peace nicked from human-kind by Salafist Islamic revivalism. Our thinking in 2016 must overshadow our reactive fighting attitude. If the famous war strategists Tsung Tzu were alive today, he would have one advice - victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. We have the benefit of breath to place ourselves in either of the two categories.

TGS Intelligence and security consultants

In love & In War - Britain Engage Daesh in Syria for the love of Paris 13/11.

By David Otto
TGS Counter Terrorism Expert

2nd Dec.2015 11:45pm GMT

After more than 10 hours of live debate, lawmakers in the United Kingdom have today - 2nd Dec. 2015 voted in favour (397 to 223 votes) to extend UK airstrikes into Syria against Daesh- aka ISIL/IS/SIS. The argument for and against the motion has been very tense splitting Tory rebels and labour MPs under the leadership of labour- Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative - David Cameroon. The major contention was whether extending airstrikes - bombing from the air into Syria against ISIL will make an attack on Britain less likely than not.
The votes for the motion to go to war means RAF Fighter jets may begin targeting ISIL interest in Syria as early as tonight. The UK is already a coalition member with the US launching airstrikes in Iraq since August 2014.Just like 9/11 attacks in New York pulled UK to join the US in launching an attack against Afghanistan, then Iraq - the Paris 13/11 attacks have prompted the UK to launch airstrikes in Syria. The aim is that airstrikes against Daesh in Syria, will make the UK much safer than using other humanitarian or political measures.

Looking Back At Iraq:

The votes tonight draws vivid memory of the war on Iraq word for word.

With the dust of 9/11 still unsettled in New York, the Afghanistan regime under the Taliban was brought down by US military might. The US and UK… pointed fingers on Iraq and Saddam as next. The case for the invasion of Iraq was unequivocal, the then US President George Bush and the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that 9/11 had left the US-UK and the entire universe including vulnerable to attack by Al-Qaida and affiliates or franchise - and that it was in the interest of global peace & security if there was a regime change in Iraq. The super forecasters provided ‘good evidence’ that Iraq and Saddam possessed and had the capability to manufacture WMD. These WMDs could be deployed against the US or western targets within minutes. Tony Blair believed that there was no better option on the table other than intervention with troops in Iraq. His argument was that the effects of 9/11 and Saddam's treatment of his people with his record of using chemical and biological weapons against the Kurdish minorities was so grave that justice and military intervention was the lesser evil than doing nothing. This sounds more like the argument against Assad and ISIL.

The Iraq invasion was and continues not to be a success story for Iraq and the West. Many security analysts and coalition officials who backed the idea including Tony Blair have confessed and acknowledge that it was a huge mistake in the first place. Instead of bringing justice to the enemy or the enemy to justice, as the public was promised, the invasion of Iraq and ousting of Saddam, disbanding of the Baarth party and Saddam’s army has made the world a dangerous place and Iraq a deadly place to live in.
Not that Saddam was a saint or a blessing to the Iraqi people because he was none in my opinion. However as Donald Trump rightly put it, Iraq is now the "Harvard of terrorism" after US invasion and the ousting of Saddam. After the invasion, Iraq's problems are even bigger including what we currently experience with ISIL.

As families of victims of Iraq wait patiently for the outcome of the Chilcot enquiry expected in summer 2016, The justice of knowing who got it wrong, who made the decision and what reliable evidence was used to go to Iraq continues unanswered. No lessons appear to have been learnt.
Today’s decision to launch airstrikes against Syria will not be any different to the Iraq outcome. It will make the world unsafe and the UK- a centre of jihadist attacks. We have just played into the narrative of Daesh by creating more dark enemies and potential militants. If the mistake in invading Iraq played a role to the emergence of ISIL as Tony Blair himself confessed live on CNN, the airstrikes in Syria may make matters even worse and more complex for the peace and security of the UK and the world.

David Otto
TGS Counter Terrorism expert.

​Terror in Bamako; Has Africa Been Dragged Into an Unfamiliar War or…?
By David Otto
TGS Counter Terrorism expert

The terrorist attack on the 20th Nov. 2015 at the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali- Bamako claimed about 21 lives, including western guests from China, USA and Belgium. It is known yet known which hostages were killed by the attackers and who might have died when the hotel was stormed by Special Forces made up of Mali-France and USA. But this attack and others - more lethal, illustrate that the world is fighting a global war for the third time with Africa playing a significant role in the ‘war on terror’ as victims and perpetrators alike.
The attack follows a string of attacks by Boko Haram, ISIL and Al-Qaeda- affiliated groups in Nigeria, Cameroon, Beirut, Paris, Niger, Chad, Somalia, Kenya, Iraq, Syria… ; . The hostage crisis in the Malian capital-Bamako ended after a combination of Malian- French and USA Special Forces stormed the hotel rescuing all hostages and killing two of the assailants. The remainder of the gunmen have not yet identified or apprehended.

Which Group claimed responsibility for the 20/11 Attacks?

Al- Mourabitoun, a group led by Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar (He may have been killed by airstrikes this summer 2015) has claimed responsibility for the Mali attacks. Al-Mourabitoun is a known affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb despite some members pledging allegiance to ISIL in May 2015 to the anger of its leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Boko Haram, the Nigeria Islamic sect which has terrified the Sub Saharan Africa region - since 2009 has been known to with Al-Mourabitoun, Ansar al- Dine and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA).

The group is known to be based in Northern Mali after its formation in 2013 immediately after the Libya crisis which saw the demise of Gaddafi.Crucially for France, this attack in Mali comes just 7 days after Paris 13/11 which left about 130 dead and more than 300 wounded. ISIL claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack forcing France to declare a 3 months state of emergency. Other EU states including the UK have all raised their threat levels to severe or imminent. Despite ISIL calling on its Wilayats including Boko Haram (Nigeria interior) to launch attacks against Western targets and interest (Paris- Rome), security at the Malian based Radisson Blu Hotel was easily breached by gun men.

Why Mali:

Mali is a former French West African colony, making it part of the French la Francafrique. France has been leading a fight against Islamic insurgents mainly from the North- Azawad since 2013 after a rebel military coup against the democratically elected government of Ahmadou Tounami Toure in 2012. Islamist had combined forces with members of the Tuaregs minority group that have been seeking for their independence from Mali since 1958 making claims they have been hugely marginalised and discriminated compared to other major ethnic groups in Mali.

The Tuaregs declared their independence in 2012 leaving groups like Ansar-Dine and Al- Mourabitoun amongst others, who benefitted from weapons and fighting experience from Libya to take advantage and declare a highly strict Islamic law- banning music and even destroying Islamic tombs in an area in the North that practiced Sufi Islam.The involvement of the French in Mali under Nicholas Sarkozy came after French key military role in Libya. The French involvement contributed to the collapse of the Libyan regime under Moammar Gaddafi. These groups, some of whom enjoyed funding from Gaddafi are retaliating against the French and western coalition involvement in Libya, Mali and recent airstrikes in Syria under Francois Hollande.

Why Radisson Blu Hotel?

Radisson Blu hotel is a U.S owned hotel by the Rezidor Hotel Group and attracts mostly western guest due to its international recognised standard and price tag for an average Malian. At the time of the attack, the hotel was playing host to Air France and Turkey cabin crew, international diplomats, local and regional celebrities and nationals from Belgium, U.S.A, China, India...
It is a high target for ISIL and Al-Qaeda led groups that want to hurt western interest by targeting their citizens and their owned assets. It appears from victim reports that the terrorist singled out non-Muslims and western guest with some saying gun men shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they struck.
The number of hostages held (About 170) compared to the death toll (about 20) may indicate that these terrorist were not as deadly as their ISIL Paris counterparts. Today’s Terrorist groups have adapted to selecting their targets. They prefer easily accessible soft targets like places of worship, government buildings, hotels, bars, restaurants, schools, cinemas, theatres, shopping malls and holiday resorts to inflict maximum casualties, strike fear amongst the population and attract well needed international attention and propaganda to help them recruit more militants to their cause.

Weapons used and significance;

Capability is very important, if not the most important to any successful terrorist attack either by a lone wolf or a group. In the Mali luxury hotel siege, the gunmen appeared heavily armed and well trained for the target. No report of suicide bombers was used in the Mali siege as a weapon unlike in other recent attacks in Nigeria, Beirut 12th Nov. 2015 and Paris 13th Nov. 2015. The terrorists used grenades and automatic weapons indicating that they were prepared to kill as many guests as their capability could allow them. Victim reports that gunmen allowed some foreign guest to leave unhurt may indicate that their bullets and ammunitions were numbered- limited.
There are fears that, despite the involvement of a joint Malian- French and US Special Forces, not all the perpetrators have been apprehended so far, leaving Mali under very high alert. Therefore the number of terrorist who planned the attack is not yet known. In response, the Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has declared a national state of emergency effective from the mid-night of the attacks, possibly to track the rest of the assailants or their collaborators.

Is this is a one off attack on Mali alone?

This attack follows another nearly 24 hour hostage siege just recently in August 2015 in the Malian city of Sevare at Hotel Byblos (Frequents foreigners )involving the death of three UN workers , five Malian soldiers and four terrorists. This frequency of attacks gives credits to fears that similar attacks may continue elsewhere in Mali or beyond prompting a national state of emergency. This latest incident occurred despite the fact that Mali has been on high alert after the 8th Aug. 2015 hotel Byblos attacks which left 12 people dead. In March 2015, five people including a French and Belgian citizen were shot dead at a restaurant (La Terrasse) in the capital Bamako. No group claimed responsibility for the attack but suspicion was placed on Tuareg Islamic groups mainly operating in the North of Mali. Similar attacks on soft key targets are highly likely within a short period within and without Mali.

International significance:

This latest attack in Mali followed by recent attacks globally will have significant local, regional and international implication in the ‘war on terror’ and violent extremism. It happens just a week after ISIL claimed responsibility for the Beirut and Paris 13/11 attacks and calling on its Wilayats including ‘Nigeria interior’ to launch attacks against Paris and Rome. An international strategy is required to tackle violent extremism. More important, African terrorism must be given equal attention. No one is safe and all nations are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. A comprehensive framework of information sharing and proactive counter terrorism and counter insurgency action is required to defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups in the world.

Where we are after now:

The world peace is under imminent threat from Islamic violent extremism after the Mali Radisson Hotel siege and all other attacks that have taken place globally including the ignored ISIL affiliated group- Boko Haram- now the most deadly terrorist group in the world. This is the time for stakeholders to take a step back and make well thought through decisions to fight a global war.
These kinds of attacks on innocent citizens, going about doing their business can be avoided or worst minimised. But Might is not always Right and we should not under- estimate the strategy of a determined terrorist groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda and their global affiliates. Experience tells us that the ideology will be passed on to a new generation of jihadist even when the flesh is killed.

There must be a global honest effort to combat terrorism from the source and not by addressing the symptoms alone. However to be able to address the underlying causes, one must be able to stay alive to see that through. In that case some iron fisted approach is inevitable.A life lost, is a life lost irrespective of the origin or status of a victim. The world must stand together genuinely to address the issue of global terrorism from the source.

All these recent events beginning with the 9/11 trigger of ‘War on Terror’ indicates that the world is experiencing a 3rd World War but this time, the enemy comes from an unexpected end- Terrorism mainly from Salafist Islamic fundamentalists groups with an extreme Jihadist ideology eating the fabrics of society slowly but steadily. Their sole objective is to create and maintain an Islamic Caliphate under ultra-strict Sharia law. The main players, united by a common ideology but sometimes divided in approach and modus operandi are the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL); Al-Qaeda; Taliban and affiliates against a global Western coalition front headed by US and Russia, albeit divided in strategy and operation.This is the sad position of the world as it stands today.

Whatever is done in mitigation against violent extremism must have as a central referral point that ‘hurt people hurt people’ and no amount of retaliation, iron fisted punishment frightens men who are not afraid of death. If such hard-line tactics do not change, the ‘War on terror’ may never see victory. A nuanced approach addressing structural and societal concerns is the only way forward.

David Otto
TGS Counter terrorism expert
Twitter: @ottotgs



by David Otto
TGS Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert

16 Nov. 2015 at 17:30
‘When you notice your neighbours beard on fire, sprinkle water on yours and help them put off the fire. left to spread, it may soon engulf everyone’ Salisu Suleiman 2013.

The Paris 13/11 attacks which killed about 129 and injured more than 300 innocent civilians going about their daily enjoyment must be condemned in all respects. We must also condemn with same rigour all other attacks irrespective of whether they happen in our back yard or in Timbuktu. The world has changed completely in the 21st century and security is at the core. We live in a society where we have to be lucky all the times. On the other hand the terrorist only have to be lucky once and that will be the end of our life story.

When horrible events happen, the immediate solution is not to pay the perpetrators with an ‘eye for an eye’ because this is the exact response they expect from us- a knee jerk reaction. If we react as expected, it will only assist the terrorist recruit more vulnerable victims into their camp. It is obvious from recent events that the solutions that we have been putting forward against violent extremism do not work because we keep getting the same negative results.This is not to say there are no success stories, because we have plenty of them, usually not spoken about or known to the everyday chap. But as humans we naturally pay more attention to our failures in order to perfect our objectives perhaps.
After the 13/11 Paris tragedy, we should all calm down, draw a deep breath, and not make rash decisions yet. It is time to think of a better alternative to what we have been doing so far in the name of 'strategic hard and soft solutions' for the past years without yielding any lasting success. As of today, we still do not agree on who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter in Syria; Who is an extremist and who is a moderate ; we are even divided against ISIL and other similar extremist groups like Al-Qaeda; We are not sincere and transparent about our intentions; We concentrate on scoring political points against each other through unhelpful propaganda while the enemy prospers and plans their next targets; We trust people without due diligence and hand them deadly weapons that end up in the hands of our enemies; We have air superiority but fail to spot our enemy’s ground operations with bulk weapons; We are negligent after all warning signs are laced in front of us. In all we do not know who to trust to defeat ISIL and who to trust to protect innocent citizens.

What we know for sure is that no amount of punishment frightens a man who is not afraid of death. Invading Syria or Iraq to shoot ISIL on sight will not work. It is a bad idea from my point of view and counter productive to say the least. What will work is an honest global approach to the problems from the roots. Forget the symptoms as a primary focus and go back to the drawing board without ignoring your neighbours problems as too far away from your backyard. Remember the terrorist only needs to be lucky once.

By TGS Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert David Otto

How safe is the world after Paris 13/11?
By David Otto- Counter Terrorism Expert
TGS intelligence and Security consultants
November 14, 2015 19:00

On 23 October 2002 Chechen militants were responsible for the death of 130 people in Moscow Dubrovka theatre terror siege out of about 1000 hostages. 13 years later a similar attack takes place in Paris on 13/11. At least 127 people have died and many more wounded. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack. 8 of the terrorist died at the scene. 7 of them blew themselves up as suicide bombers. 1 terrorist is reported to have been killed by French Special Force (Raid).
The attack comes a day after Mohammed Emwazi (Jihadi John) was reported to have been targeted by US and UK airstrikes but confirmation of his death is unknown. The same day before the Paris attack, ISIL suicide bombers killed 43 people in Lebanon. Exactly a day after the attack, world powers including Russia and US meet in Vienna to decide the fate of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, ‘moderate’ fighters, ISIL, Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups.It was exactly 13 days after a Russian Metro jet Airbus 321 was brought down with 224 passengers killed in Mount Sinai after leaving Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg.
Days after the crash, the UK and US intelligence revealed unofficially that there was a very high possibility that it was an ‘explosive device’ by suspected ISIL terrorist.


The Paris attackers targeted the Bataclan theatre in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris on a busy Friday evening. Just like the Dubrovka theatre in the 2002 Moscow siege, the Bataclan theatre hosted about 1000 visitors to a concert from a US California band. The attackers carried out another coordinated shooting outside a nearby restaurant killing about 14 dinners and injuring many more. The choice of weapons and targets is significant for two reasons;
The use of suicide bombers and automatic weapons indicates that the terrorist wanted to kill as many people as possible. The fact that they wore suicide vest means they were prepared to die and no negotiation was going to make a difference. Suicide bombing is usually a desperate and deadly strategy but this tactics could spread to Europe with devastating effects.

The choice of target is important as always for terrorist.

France and Paris Central get busier on a Friday evening for locals and tourists alike. The Bataclan theatre was going to be busy because it was hosting a US California group with attendance of about 1000 or more people. The shooting outside a busy restaurant also ensured maximum casualty. The suicide attacks outside Stade de France hosting France and Germany was a much bigger target for the terrorist because; The President of France, top French and German officials, international footballers and many other celebrities were watching the game, a good PR for the terrorist. Any attack in the stadium would have caused maximum damage and international coverage which enhances the propaganda of groups like ISIL.

Have all the perpetrators been apprehended? What is France doing about them?

The number of terrorist who planned the attack is not yet known. So far 8 have been killed. In response France has declared a national state of emergency to track the rest. French President Francois Hollande says attack has external influence, referring to ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Early analysis from eyewitness reports and the tactics of using suicide bombing with assault and sporadic shooting bear resemblance to Al-Qaeda and ISIL style of attack.

What nationality are the terrorist?

The origin or nationality of the terrorists is not yet known but eye witnesses and reports suggest (from their French speaking accent) some of the terrorist could be French born ‘home grown terrorists’ or French foreign fighter returnees from Syria or Iraq. Some reports claim a Syrian and Egyptian passport was found at the scene of a suicide attack outside Stade de France, prompting suggestions that attackers may have come directly from Syria to launch attacks or were refugees- now terrorist.

Why France?

France is part of the US Western coalition involved in airstrikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq since September 2014. It has a chequered colonial and post-colonial history after their involvement in the regime change western policy in Ivory Coast, Mali, Libya and Central Africa Republic... The gun men, according to eyewitness report, claimed that they were carrying out the attack for the involvement of France in Syria particularly.

Is this is a one off attack on France alone?

France has a higher and growing Muslim population compared to other European counterparts like UK. There are fears more attacks may continue elsewhere in France or beyond prompting a national state of emergency. This incident happened despite the fact that France has been on high alert after the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks which left 12 people dead. Only five months after Charlie Hebdo, an Islamist beheaded his boss in Lyon and attempted to blow up a French industrial plant. In July 2015 an attacker on a high speed train was over powered by brave passengers while wielding a machine gun.

International significance:

This attack in Paris will have significant national and international implication in the war against terrorism and violent extremism just like 9/11 did to the world. It happens a day before the Vienna conference where coalition powers (Russia,US..) are meeting to decide on the approach to peace in Syria, but more so, how to comprehensively defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups in the region.
Just like the effect of 9/11 on Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a high possibility that decisions on the ISIL strategy will be draconian and hasty. France and possibly the UK will be more willing to join the US and pursue full military air and ground strike against those it considers as enemies. There will be more inclination to see the back of President Bashar al-Assad and restore a ‘moderate’ government in Syria. As indicated by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Vienna conference held today, any transition strategy that goes beyond or above the support of the Syrian people will not be supported by Russian coalition. The US Secretary of state John Kerry does not believe in the order of events as suggested by his Russian counterpart- ISIL goes and Syria transition framework follows. No realistic peace plan reached even after Paris attack.

Where we are after now:

The world peace is under serious threat from Islamic violent extremism- or so it seems, after the Paris attack and all other attacks globally including the ignored Sub Saharan Africa group- Boko Haram. Like 9/11, this is not the time to make rash decisions without proper thought on future ramifications. After all, if our leaders had taking out time to think of what to do best after 9/11, these kind of attacks on innocent citizens, going about doing their business may have been avoided or worst minimised. No one in their right mind supports terrorism but Might is not always Right and we should not under- estimate the strategy of a determined ‘tortoise’ simply because it walks slowly. The world big powers may go ahead, angry and gun blazing to eliminate those they believe are terrorist and set the ‘moderates’ free from the ‘tyrants’. Experience tells us that the ideology will be passed on to a new generation of jihadist even when the flesh is killed. There must be a global honest effort to combat terrorism from the source, from the, the source, and from the source (Intentional) first.
Equal attention must be given to all lives lost around the world as a result of terrorism and not just the ‘privileged’ in the West. Whether it is an attack in a village in Northern Nigeria, Northern Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Yemen, Israel, Iraq, Palestine , Pakistan ,UK, Brazil, Australia, US and France – the world must stand together genuinely to address the issue from the source. Our leaders must be sincere and honest (If ever) to keep global peace else the list of lives is just in the beginning for the selfishness of a few. My heart goes to the victims of the Paris 11/13 attacks but they will be pleased to know in their graves, that more lives do not go the same route.

David Otto
Counter terrorism expert
Twitter: @ottotgs
Chad imposes state of emergency in Boko Haram-hit area

Chadian army has been on the front line of a regional military operation against Boko Haram as attacks spread.

The move towards emergency powers comes after a spate of Boko Haram attacks. Chad's government has imposed a state of emergency in the flashpoint Lake Chad region saying it has become a gathering point for Boko Haram fighters.The area also straddles Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger and is frequently targeted by Boko Haram.

The announcement on Monday came as two female suicide bombers reportedly attacked a mosque in northern Cameroon, killing three people, and a day after a similar assault killed two others in Chad.Under the decree, the governor of the remote region will have the authority to ban the circulation of people and vehicles, search homes, and recover arms.The government said health, education, and economic development in the area must also be a priority as authorities struggle to stem Boko Haram's recruitment drive.

"President [Idriss] Deby has ordered the minister of finance to unlock a fund of 3 billion CFA francs [$4.8bn] for development in the region," according to an official statement read on national radio.
Since the start of the year, the Chadian army has been on the front line of a regional military operation against Boko Haram, whose attacks have spread from northeast Nigeria - its traditional stronghold - to the neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, speaking at a security forum in Dakar, called on other African nations to give his country more financial support for the fight.

Boko Haram, affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group operating in Syria and
Iraq, has been hit hard by the offensive, losing territory, but it has launched a wave of attacks and bombings in response.

The group, believed to be hiding out in Nigeria's Sambisa forest and the lake's many islands, is held responsible for 17,000 deaths and for making 2.5 million people homeless in its six-year campaign of violence seeking to make an Islamic state in the region.