Can Somaliland learn Something from the Israelis?

Perhaps the greatest lesson Somaliland can draw from Israel is the need for policy transparency

One of the most complex challenges for Somaliland arises when a foreign government is passive, half-hearted, or recalcitrant in its counter-terrorism efforts, such as Somalia was before Al-Shabab. Effective local partners are vital for counter-terrorism and building up their capabilities is a long process, but the will to fight is critical. The lesson for Somaliland policymakers from international Israel’s experience with recalcitrant administrations and other hostile groups in the SSC Khaatumo is that sustained and well-thought pressure is adamantly necessary.

No one measure will result in forcing a democratic government to aggressively fight terrorism. Success against regimes that are passive in the face of terrorism will take years to subdue and will often be costly and detrimental. Another challenge for Somaliland is how to best combine offensive and defensive measures in the fight against terrorism.

Arrests are a particularly useful way of weakening terrorist groups. Arrests, however, must be carefully targeted to gain the maximum intelligence benefit and to ensure that resources are directed first and foremost against the most dangerous terrorists. A well-orchestrated human intelligence is imperative. Using the best of human intelligence coupled with forming excellent partnerships with other security and intelligence institutions is vital. Somaliland must also step up its defensive measures because these render it far harder for terrorist groups to conduct successful preventative attacks.

The International community Israel has benefited in recent years from the effective use of checkpoints to thwart terrorists and from the well-publicized measure of building the security barrier.

A combination of effective measures is paramount to employ a defensive mechanism (selective espionage, human intelligence, using technology, and better information to the public). Like Somaliland, Israel has used targeted killings because in many circumstances key terrorists who are actively masterminding attacks are difficult to arrest without significant risk to the security forces. Accurate, timely, and actionable intelligence is necessary for taking any one measure for targeted killings. Rapid intelligence sharing and avoidance of “stove piping” (when an agency retains information or intelligence and does not share it with other agencies) is essential.

Israel also goes through a range of measures to minimize the loss of innocent life.

Somaliland must have a high standard and a code of conduct for all controversial security measures aimed at preventing and aborting likely terrorist activities for targeted killings because, unlike Israel, it relies heavily on the Cooperation of foreign governments to arrest and apprehend terrorist suspects and to disrupt terrorist plots is important.

If a targeted killing operation, particularly one that goes awry, alienates allies, the strategic effect could prove disastrous. The bar for approving a targeted killing should therefore be set high.

Somaliland must recognize the interconnectedness of various counter-terrorism methods. Offense and defense work together. By reducing the number of skilled terrorists through arrests, and other methods of targeted killings, and making it more difficult for the terrorists to communicate with each other, a state can make it far harder for the remaining terrorists to plan attacks that can overcome significant defenses such as the security barrier.

Being always vigilant is a requirement that deserves to be upheld. It all depends on how prepared your intelligence institutions are, empowered, skilled, and trained to the state of the art of effectiveness.

Perhaps the greatest lesson Somaliland can draw from Israel is the need for policy transparency. While the Israeli government does not share specific intelligence on its operations, The targeting criteria are widely understood by all political parties and the general public.

All efforts to contain and respond to the activities carried out by terrorists must and shall conform with the guiding principles of the international laws and protocols dealing with terrorism and within the rule of law.

Cabdiqadir Maxamuud Qasin
Somaliland Digital