Kampala to host regional intelligence centre

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda (centre) posing for a group picture with Minister of Security Mary Okurut (third left) ISO Director Ronnie Barya (second left) , Representative of the Executive Secretary of IGAD Tigist Hailu (second right) , Inter Governmental Authority on Development official Smael Chergni (third right) with regional security and intelligence chiefs from East Africa and IGAD. Photo by Kennedy Oryema

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Uganda is to host a regional intelligence coordination centre for the East African Community (EAC) and IGAD member states to facilitate sharing information on regional threats.

The proposal to set up the facility in Uganda is scheduled to be endorsed on Wednesday at a meeting of intelligence and security chiefs from the regions in Kampala.

At the opening of the meeting on Tuesday, the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda said the coordination centre would boost regional efforts to fight terrorism and cross-border crime.

“The establishment of the centre will be a vote of confidence that Uganda has built capacity to nuetralise terrorist threats,” Rugunda said.

Security chiefs at the meeting are discussing ways of enhancing security cooperation and capabilities to contain rising threats from organised terrorist groups including Alshabaab.

The joint intelligence centre to be established in Kampala will be supported by the African Union and is different from the facility established in Kenya.

Dr Rugunda said Ugandan security forces were vigilant and coordinating with neighbouring states to prevent possible attacks by terrorist groups.

“Uganda has remained steadfast in nuetralising terrorists by sharing intelligence with neighbours to make it difficult for them to penetrate into the country,” he told journalists.

New threats

The AU Commissioner for Peace Security, Smail Chergui warned that Jihadist militant group, Islamic State (ISIS) was turning to the region for recruits to fight in the Middle East.

“ISIS has attracted about 5,000 Africans to join them in Iraq and Syria. Some of them are from the East Africa Community and IGAD regions,” he disclosed.

Kenya police earlier this month arrested two Ugandans-Malcolm Lukwiya and Emmanuel Oneka-for allegedly registering youth to join ISIS.

The two were arrested on July 1 in a hideout in Kabete, Nairobi and are currently awaiting trial in a Nairobi court.

ISIS was formed in April 2013, growing out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It occupies a large territory in Iraq and Syria, with affiliates in Libya and Nigeria.

Tigist Hailu, a representative of the IGAD said regional collaboration among countries was critical in fighting violent extremism.

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