As I woke up today, something told me to look closely at my calendar. I soon realized, upon doing so, that today marked the anniversary of the 9/11 Bombings in the US. I listened to the news and read the online periodicals to find astonishing that the media has not showcased this marking event in their columns as expected. The following testimonials are from ordinary citizens that were in the heart of it all during that challenging day:
“……. On the morning of September 11th 2001, I woke up just like any other day. I worked on the 15th floor of 10 Exchange Place in Jersey City, a skyscraper on the Hudson River right across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. I remember how nice of a day it was- about 70 degrees with a nice breeze. Sometimes early September in New York can be sweltering, but that day was as pleasant as they come. –Tom S.
8:46 am and 9:03 am I was in my office when the first plane harpooned the North Tower at 8:46am. While watching the flaming building from the trading floor, I attempted to contact the observation deck to make sure they left immediately. At 9:03 the second tower was struck with the resulting blast slamming the building, bending in the windows, followed by the concussions of the sound, and then the transfer of energy through the rock which shook the building. With no plan on what to do when planes hit towers, decisions were made and our floor was evacuated. –Tony
9:15 am I was sleeping in on September 11, 2001, and was awakened at around 9:15am by the sound of fire engine sirens- lots of them. I looked out of the apartment window, out into the gorgeous Indian summer day, and saw a stream of fire trucks racing downtown. –Jon
10:45 am On 9/11, I was working as a news reporter for a financial magazine. I arrived at the office near Penn Station at 10:45 am, walked into the newsroom, when a co-worker shouted, “The World Trade Centers are gone!” I said, “That’s impossible!” He exclaimed, “Look out the window!” I looked outside and could not believe what I was seeing – black smoke rising from where the Towers once stood. –Sandy “.
The Gambia as a Nation is also dealing with its fair share of extremism. According to the “counterextremism.com “, the following can be noted:
“On January 28, 2017, just days after taking office, Barrow reversed The Gambia’s status as an Islamic Republic. Barrow has pledged to run a more democratic government and increase economic and political liberties in The Gambia. Barrow has rekindled diplomatic relations with neighboring Senegal, which disapproved of Jammeh’s poor human rights record, as well as several Western nations. Nonetheless, the Jamestown Foundation warns that Barrow’s reversal of Jammeh’s Islamist stances could make The Gambia an attractive target for Islamic extremists. (Sources: Jamestown Foundation, Daily Post, Overseas Security Advisory Council)
The Gambia has not yet experienced the same level of extremist activity as other West African nations. Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso have experienced deadly terrorist attacks carried out by Islamist extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Mourabitoun. Senegal, which surrounds The Gambia, has reportedly arrested several Islamic extremist militants. Nonetheless, with the exception of a U.S.-sanctioned Hezbollah financier expelled from the country in 2015, The Gambia has yet to experience any terrorist attacks or militant activity inside its borders. (Sources: Jamestown Foundation, Telegraph, Gov.uk, Reuters, Overseas Security Advisory Council)
The Gambia has legislation in place that officially outlaws terrorist activity and terrorist financing, and in 2014, worked to develop a national anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) strategy. Apart from these, however, The Gambia does not have any other domestic counter-extremism initiatives in place. Furthermore, The Gambia is currently operating with a weakened security environment, as its military and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are under reform due to their past loyalty to Jammeh and his authoritarian government. This weakened security environment puts The Gambia at increased risk for violence perpetrated by both Islamic extremists and Jammeh loyalists angered by their present marginalized status. (Source: Jamestown Foundation, Point, Africa Review)
According to the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)’s 2018 Crime and Safety report, The Gambia is not a known base of political support for terrorists, and Gambians have not been known to sympathize with militant terror groups or their activities. However, West African countries remain at-risk due to porous borders, regional instability, and activities from al-Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated terrorist groups in neighboring areas. (Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council)”
The statement makes us reflect on the ongoing instability currently being experienced by Mali due to its recent Military Coup d’Etat. How are the Islamist operating in the Northern Sahara to be tackled when most them are heavily armed and ruthless with Government or Peace Keeping Missions present in the Region? What kind of measures or frameworks are being implemented to counter the effect?
Radical preachers in mosque and in our communities at large should be identified and delayed in their ongoing efforts to recruit. Their propaganda should not reach the impoverished individuals that they target daily. Sensitizing Campaigns should be conducted year round using different platforms. Short Theatre Sketches are quite popular with the people of The Gambia. Social media websites should be monitored by the relevant Cyber Police Units to stop all negative content from being made available to innocent youths and children being sought to conduct suicidal missions. Firm sentences should be awarded to the recruiters so that the trends can disappear for good.
Let us all put our thoughts together to make the 3rd Republic of The Gambia a stable and conducive one for peace and harmony to reign for generations to come in every corner of our territory for all to enjoy abundantly.