By Ishola Balogun
Government and corporate security executives have been advised to take urgent proactive steps in preventing a possible Al Qaeda attack on Nigerian soil. Such a terrorist attack could result in mass fatalities.
In a chat with the President of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu recently said that the trajectory of the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al Mourabitoun (AMB) recent wave of terrorist attacks in West Africa showed that Nigeria was the probable next target.
“The most likely target cities are Abuja or Lagos,” he said.
The security expert said that intelligence analysis conducted from open source materials on the current phase of implacable jihad mounted by Al Qaeda on West African nations showed that Nigeria was in the next logical target for an active shooter attack by a six man hit team of terrorists.
Ekhomu said that the rigorous analysis conducted by analysts in the School of Management and Security Lagos focused the following variables: choice of country, choice of targets, methods of attacks, choice of weapons, timing of attacks, police/military capabilities, response time, security awareness of local populace, etc. He said that all three recent hotel attacks in West Africa targeted hotels and were carried out by an alliance of AQIM and AMB.
Dr. Ekhomu said that the three recent West African attacks — Radisson Blu in Bamako – Mali, the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou – Burkina Faso and the Grand Bassam Resort in Ivory Coast caused 73 deaths and involved only 11 attackers. “The odds are in the favor of the terrorists to cause mass deaths in these attacks,” he added.
He called upon Nigeria’s intelligence community to up its game in the collection, analysis and dissemination of actionable intelligence on the AlQaeda (AQIM and AMB) threat. He said that this is a new national security threat.
He urged government and corporate security officials to conduct vulnerability assessments of facilities and work on various threat scenarios. He urged the police agency to establish tips hotlines for reporting of suspicious persons and packages. He advised the government to “increase police visibility and also inject plain clothes police assets into high risk facilities”.
He warned that hotels, airports, shopping malls, transportation centers, trophy buildings (such as Federal Secretariat, NNPC Towers, National Mosque, National Ecumenical Center) and other landmark buildings should receive enhanced security protection.
He warned: “the Al Qaeda threat is more serious than the Boko Haram threat and it’s hoped that the government and corporate security will take this threat more seriously and act to prevent deadly attacks against soft and unprepared targets.”
He called on the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigeria Police Force and employers of labor to begin a program which could be tagged “Operation I’m a Nigerian.” This program should involve the peremptory and aggressive demand for proof of Nigerian citizenship from individuals anytime there is an interaction with persons who appear suspicious.
This is important as the intelligence analysts found that the hit teams being deployed by Al Qaeda are usually Arab foreigners who volunteer to go on the suicide mission.