18 May 2011

East Africa: Drugs Cash Used to Fund Terror Groups in East Africa, Says Wako

Nairobi — Drug lords and money launderers were possible financiers of terrorism activities in East Africa, Attorney-General Amos Wako said on Wednesday.

Mr Wako said Kenya was now using anti-money laundering and organised crime laws to boost the fight against terrorism in addition to the anti-terrorism law.

"The steady flow of drug money may be used to stimulate other criminal activities catalysing the consumption of illicit commodities like cannabis sativa, cocaine and counterfeit goods," said Mr Wako.

He also said the region was still vulnerable to possible attacks, especially, with the increase of al Shabaab operations.

Increase cooperation

The AG was addressing a three-day training seminar organised by the Centre on Global Counter-terrorism Cooperation and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Capacity Building Programme Against Terrorism.

He urged Igad countries to increase counter-terrorism cooperation due to a rise in threats from terror groups especially with the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"As we have watched, with consternation, the increase and sophistication of terrorist activities in the world, we realise that we have to be vigilant to the real possibility of another terror attack," said Mr Wako.

Terrorism, he noted, was no longer a national or regional problem but one that required a coordinated multi-lateral and comprehensive response on a global level.

The AG said that under the new Constitution, general rules of customary and international law formed part of Kenyan laws.

This was intended to boost the fight against terrorism and at the same time strengthen the country's justice system.

Mr Wako said that through the new Constitution, the criminal justice system in the country had been revamped and would realise success that had been elusive in the past.

"We all now hope that with these changes, the prosecutions in this country will be more professional."

The seminar is designed to foster discussion on lessons learnt on cooperation in response to terrorist attacks, specifically after the 1998 Kenya/Tanzania embassies' bombings, the Kikambala/Paradise Hotel attack in 2002, and the 1998 Omagh (Northern Ireland) attack.

Region's stability crucial

The Director of Peace and Security Division of Igad, Ms Netsannet Asfaw, said the region's stability was key to ensuring that terrorists did not find easy ways of operating.

Ms Asfaw, however, called on the Sudan to resolve the post-referendum issues in a peaceful manner, adding that it was still in a precarious state that called for care and forthrightness.

Danish ambassador Geert Aagaard Anderson called for tightening of measures aimed at fighting international and domestic terrorism as no one was safe from terrorism.

He called for cutting off of any form of financing to Somalia that seemed to be funding the al Shabaab in the war-torn country and threatening peace in the whole of the Igad region.

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