Director General of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Alhagi Ousman Sowe, on August 10, visited Minna, Saudi Arabia, where he met Gambian pilgrims, Amir Hajj Alh. Ousman Jah, officials of the Hajj Commission including Imam Baba Leigh, Imam Cham, Permanent Secretary at the ministry of Local government and Religious Affairs, Gambia Consular General Sheikh Omar Faye and all 7 Gambia Airline Agencies.
The visit was borne out of courtesy to Gambia pilgrims and to give DG Sowe first-hand information on how the pilgrims were doing and hear experiences, challenges and views on both the conduct of this year's Hajj operations and ways to make this important and life changing religious pillar easier to fulfill in the years ahead.
His visit was important because the SIS in its ongoing reforms is placing high premium on Hajj as a major national affair that deserves the attention and support of the intelligence service.
Over the past three years, SIS involvement and support to Hajj Operations and pilgrim affairs have been raised unprecedentedly. As part of the reform and reorientation process, the intelligence service has taken keen interest in supporting the fulfillment of this important Muslim pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by way of interacting and taking close interest in Hajj affairs with the Gambia Hajj Commission, Airline operators that are certified by government to lift pilgrims, officials of The Gambia Embassy in the Holy land as well as providing staff critical support to pilgrims especially the weak, needy and lost ones.
During the visit, DG Sowe received encouraging testimonies from pilgrims and the airline agencies on the invaluable support they receive from SIS officers performing Hajj with them, describing the officers as "commanders and commandos" and extoling their supporting role in searching and locating lost pilgrims, assisting the sick and infirm in performing the rites of Hajj and consoling the distressed and fainthearted.
In response, he enlightened and assured the pilgrims that this was the spirit and context of the new role of the SIS in the discharge of its sacred duty and responsibility in the service of Gambians both home and abroad. He reiterated that the SIS would continue in that trajectory in the discharge of its mandate in the interest of all Gambians under the constitution and in support of peace, national reconciliation and religious pursuits such as Hajj.
He urged pilgrims to pray for continuous peace in The Gambia, national harmony, tolerance, social cohesion and the attainment of government's national development plans, as those were important prerequisites for enabling citizenry to undertake the important Islamic pillar. The pilgrims and Hajj officials assured DG Sowe of their continuous prayer for peace and development in The Gambia.