Security expert and Islamic scholar Irbard Ibrahim has said Ghana should be adopting a security strategy to monitor the use of social media if it desires to take action against recruitment of its citizens by terror organisations.
He stated that if the country was serious about fending off radicalisation of Ghanaians it needed to identify the lapses in its security and work to plug it.
Sheikh Irbard gave the advice in an interview with Accra100.5fm Monday February 8, 2016 in response to a question about the security implications for Ghana following the arrival of Canadian Islamic cleric Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips in the country.
Dr Philips has been accused of being a terrorist, and has been incarcerated in some countries such as the Philippines on a charge of terrorism, as well as being slapped with travel bans in some states such as the US, UK, and Australia.
He is designed to host a lecture at the University of Development Studies at Tamale on February 9, having held a previous event at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, as part of an itinerary that runs from February 4 to 12.
But Mr Ibrahim does not think the Islamic scholar’s presence should cause any panic among Ghanaians. “I don’t think it’s dangerous for our security,” he said of the presence of Dr Philips in the country.
The peace ambassador was of the view that attention should rather be paid to the use of social media in the country in order that terrorist organisations, which largely employ such platforms as Facebook and YouTube to recruit jihadists into their ranks, would not have access to wage their propaganda.
He cited the example of Nazir Alema, the KNUST graduate who has joined the ranks of ISIS in Syria. He said he was recruited by the organisation due to the lack of monitoring of his activities on the Internet.
“In Alema’s case, he got radicalised by watching videos of ISIS on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter,” the security expert explained.
“Recently, some seven persons arrested with laptops and two AK47 rifles. Police investigations revealed they had been watching videos of Taliban military activities on their computers. So that is the angle we should look at first, rather than wait for someone to arrive in Ghana to preach before we do a rehash of recruitment issues in this country.”
According to him, ISIS’ recruitment style is a “global security challenge”, for which most countries have come up with a social media security strategy. He mentioned the example of China which has blocked citizens from sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google, and Saudi Arabia which allows WhatsApp messages but has barred calls from the same platform.
“So every country looks at its peculiar security challenges. I have said that the way people use social media to insult our leaders and Photoshop personalities, we need to have a security strategy in the use of social media. We are not calling for censorship,” he urged.
Irbard concluded that there needed to be a comprehensive strategy to counter the propaganda of ISIS, Boko Haram, al Shabaab, and kindred groups, “and social media cannot be left out in that strategy”.