Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Togo Experts Seek to Prevent Islamist Insurgents from Recruiting Youth

Togo Experts Seek to Prevent Islamist Insurgents from Recruiting Youth

Authorities in Togo are working to prevent their small West African nation from becoming the next country in the region to battle a sprawling and violent Islamist insurgency.

Saturday’s deadly explosion could mark a turning point if it is confirmed that the seven children killed were the first civilian casualties in the conflict.

The Togolese army did not immediately confirm the cause, but local media reported that the victims were killed when an improvised explosive device went off.

In June, Togo declared a state of emergency in the northern Savanes region after Islamist militants attacked near the Burkina Faso border in May, killing eight soldiers and wounding 13.

They were the first recorded deaths from terrorism in Togo, a country of 8 million people wedged between Ghana and Benin on the west coast of Africa.

An al Qaeda-affiliated group fighting in Burkina Faso and Mali claimed responsibility for the attack.

Recruitment

But Togolese authorities are also concerned that Islamists are recruiting disaffected youth for domestic terrorism and have formed the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention and Fight against Violent Extremism (CIPLEV).

Ouro-Bossi Tchacondoh, rapporteur for the committee, said the group exists to capitalize on the thoughts and requests of the local population. He said that he centralizes the information and sends it to a committee of ministries that analyzes it and delivers its conclusions to the government. He said that his group aims to find and study the vulnerabilities that can attract citizens or, more specifically, young people to violent extremism.

While there are no confirmed reports that Togolese have been recruited by insurgents, analysts say dealing with the rise of terrorism means going beyond security operations.

Michel Douti, an independent security expert who works with Togo’s anti-extremism committee, said the Togolese security forces have the men and women needed to fight violent extremism. But no country in the world is immune to this phenomenon, Douti said. More important, he said, is the collaboration between the security forces and the local population.

Aid groups, including religious ones, are also looking for ways to prevent young Togolese from being recruited.

Youth Initiatives

Stanislas Namitchougli, of the Episcopal Council for Peace and Justice in Dapaong, northern Togo, said the council has initiatives that help young people prevent extremist groups from influencing them. He said they are working with US-based Catholic Relief Services on a study showing how young people might join these groups due to lack of employment or education.

Namitchougli said they are also trying to build basic infrastructure like markets and schools to provide economic opportunities for young people seen as prone to violent extremism.

Security experts in Africa’s Sahel region say Islamist violence has spread, despite tough security measures, including by neighboring military governments in Burkina Faso and Mali.

Jeannine Ella Abatan, a researcher on violent extremism and security in the Sahel at the Dakar office of the Institute for Security Studies, said: “This already shows the ability of violent extremist groups to carry out attacks in those countries to exploit the porosity of the borders, go to those countries but also plant explosive devices.

“In Benin we have a series of attacks with improvised explosive devices. But beyond these attacks, on the ISS, what we have been doing is looking at the extension of violent extremism beyond what we see as attacks, because for us that is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The Togolese government is also working with Western partners and the Gulf states to train its military and fund projects to help the locals.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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