After Westgate Attack in Kenya should Ghana be fearing a similar attack?
Its been almost two weeks since the tragic events at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Ghana of course lost one of it’s citizens in the form of the prominent poet and author Prof Kofi Awoonor. Since the attack on 21 September more and more information is emerging as to why Al-Shabab carried out the attack and perhaps if other African countries could be on the radar for Islamist terrorist groups.
Last week the British government updated it’s travel advice to its Citizens suggesting that there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks in Ghana from Islamist terrorists due to its participation in the intervention in Mali. Ghana had sent deployed 120 troops to Mali, to restore order to the area after militant groups fought government forces. So crucially where not involved in the conflict but were deployed more for peacekeeping purposes.
However the fact that Ghana intervened in some way however small could give terrorists all the ammunition they need to launch an attack. I would say this is unlikely but Africa is increasingly become the battle ground for which Islamist terrorists are playing out their jihad for political and religious reasons. Of course the attacks in Kenya was a retaliatory attack by Al-Shabab for Kenyan forces launching an offensive against them. However Ghana’s obligations to the African Union and ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) means the likelihood of their intervention to help stabilise other countries in the region who are threatened by terrorism is high. So Ghana could yet be deemed as a legitimate target for terrorists in the future.
Interestingly a leading security analyst from Ghana, Emmanuel Sowatey does not think the nation is adequately prepared for a terrorist attack. in the same ilk as the Westgate attack. He said; ” We are not prepared for that now. When you go to some shopping malls, for instance, you’ll see emergency exits but most of the time, it is locked. The key is with somebody,” Sowatey thinks it was time the government relooked at the country’s internal security since a country’s foreign policy had bearing on its internal security.
The Government of Ghana says its decision to maintain or withdraw Ghanaian troops from Mali will not be hinged on any possible consequential terrorist attack on the nation. Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, Felix Kwakye Ofosu says Ghana is constantly on the alert to thwart any security threat from terrorist groups.
Although there is no specific intelligence that indicates an attack in Ghana is imminent. We should all be aware that there is an underlying threat from terrorism anywhere. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. So everyone should remain vigilant and keep the national security of in our prayers.
Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)