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African intelligence chiefs meet in Uganda over terrorism

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Intelligence and security officers from East Africa are meeting in Kampala to find means of ending armed struggles and terrorism.

The two-day meeting was on Monday opened by Major General Wilson Mbadi, deputy commander of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces.

Speaking to journalists after the opening, Mbadi said the officials were trying to find a way of eliminating terrorist activities through sharing information, as well as finding links between established terrorists like Al-Shabaab and rebel groups operating from the region.

The meeting brought together intelligence bosses from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Somalia, Mauritius, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, Comoros and Madagascar.

Joseph Ocwet, Uganda’s director general of External Security Organization, said they want to find out where the funding for terrorists and rebels in the region comes from.

He also said the region was facing new and emerging challenges such as cybercrime, money laundering and human trafficking, which highlighted the need to share intelligence information.



Kenyan police quiz two suspects over Al-Shabaab ties

MANDERA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police said Monday they are questioning two terror suspects after arresting them in Mandera county near the Somalia border when they were suspected of heading to join Al-Qaida allied Al-Shabaab group in Somalia.

A senior police officer said they believe the two, identified as Suleiman Hemed Mwandilo and Salama Salim Mohamed, who are both Kenyans, are Al-Shabaab recruiters who were arrested while trying to sneak out of the country to join the extremist group.

“The two are being interrogated and will be charged in court once we are through with investigations. They were arrested last week by security officers while trying to sneak out of the country to Somalia,” said the police who declined to be named.

The court had allowed investigators 30 days to complete their investigations. The police said they believe the two suspects are active members in the Al-Shabaab facilitation and recruitment network in the coastal region.

The anti-terrorist police late last year unearthed a syndicate of extremist online recruiters who have been targeting university students and other Kenyans to join armed extremist groups in Somalia, Libya and the Middle East.

The police say the recruiters lure these youths with the promise of well-paying jobs in foreign countries only for the hapless youth to find themselves forcefully recruited into these extremist groups.

The police officer said the two suspects are key Al-Shabaab facilitators and recruiters who were attempting to cross over to Somalia and continue with their recruitment and facilitation of terror activities.

The 37-year-old Mohamed and Mwandilo (39) from Mombasa County were intercepted at a roadblock in Takaba as they were planning to cross over to Somalia through the El-Wak-Boroache route.

Security experts say Kenya has been a soft target for terrorist activities since 1998 and the menace has evolved as radical groups from the Horn of Africa infiltrate the country to kill and maim innocent civilians.

The East African nation has heightened vigilance in the wake of intelligence reports indicating the country is still vulnerable to terror attacks.


AMISOM seeks to boost intelligence sharing in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)-backed conference on intelligence and information sharing opened in Mogadishu Monday with officials calling for closer working ties between various intelligence actors in the Horn of Africa nation.

Organizers said the conference will explore access to non-traditional information sources, discuss enhancement of intelligence sharing, and emerging threats from terror group Al-Shabaab, even as the militants find themselves weakened from the onslaught from the government, AU and partner forces.

In his opening remarks, AMISOM Deputy Force Commander Charles Tai Gituai called for more efficient intelligence sharing modalities among the actors.

“Intelligence must be collected and used in a way that ensures operational efficiency without threatening the legitimacy and impartiality necessary for the peace mission to carry out its work effectively,” Gituai said in a statement released in Mogadishu.

He said intelligence is fundamentally crucial to the peace mission, to give decision makers multi-dimensional situational awareness through coordinated analysis of information by the different components of a mission.

Gituai stressed the importance of “effective processes and structures” that would ensure information gathered is shared and stored securely.

He cautioned participants on over-reliance on the sheer quantity of information, arguing that information overload may sometimes undermine accurate interpretation of data.

“The situation we are in now, is that the question is no longer whether intelligence should be shared, but rather how, when, and to what effect,” he told intelligence officers drawn from AMISOM’s sectors, Somali security forces and key international security partners.


East African ministers to meet in Kenya over Somali refugees

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Ministers from the Eastern African regional bloc IGAD will meet in Nairobi on Thursday on the status of 1 million Somali refugees displaced by nearly three decades of fighting.

The ministers from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will review progress in implementing the Nairobi Declaration and Action Plan on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees and Reintegration of Returnees in Somalia, the bloc said in a statement issued on Monday.

“An update report and another one on the mapping exercise of current and planned humanitarian and development investments linked to the Nairobi Plan of Action will be presented and discussed at the meeting,” IGAD said.

IGAD said the ministers are expected to produce key actions for the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration and Plan of Action developed a year ago, as well as secure technical and financial commitments from development partners.



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