COUNTER TERRORISM THROUGH
INNOVATIVE APPROACHES AND THE USE OF NEW AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
PAPER DELIVERED BYISA ALI IBRAHIM
(PANTAMI), PhD, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA DURING
THE LEADERSHIP IN COUNTER TERRORISM AND COUNTER VIOLENT EXTREMISM COURSE 2 LECTURE AT THE NIGERIAN ARMY RESOURCE CENTER (NARC)
ONTUESDAY, 11TH FEBRUARY 2020
All Protocols duly and respectfully observed.
May Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you!
It gives me great pleasure to be here to deliver this paper on “Counter Terrorism through Innovative Approaches and the Use of New and Emerging Technologies” to the distinguished participants of the leadership in counter terrorism and counter violent extremism course.
Terrorism and violent extremism undermine peace and security globally. The topic is very timely as Nigeria faces its own share of this global trend that divides communities, aggravates conflicts, and destabilizes entire regions. It is evident that terrorists are exploiting social media, encrypted communications and the dark web to spread propaganda, recruit new followers and coordinate attacks. This rapidly evolving phenomenon requires the use of innovative approaches to both “counter” and “prevent” terrorism and extremism, with the development of new and emerging technologies such as:
i. Big Data Analytics;
ii. Internet of Things (IoT);
iv. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The Law enforcement authorities are presented with a huge variety of technologies to stay ahead of threats.
With the protection of life and property as one of the primary roles of government, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has identified ‘Providing Security for all citizens’ as one of its priorities. Achievements in the fight against terrorism in the North Eastern part of Nigeria is a clear indication of the government’s effective strive towards curtailing the endemic insurgency in the region. And other ongoing initiatives such as this training program is an indication of the government’s commitment to a long term strategy to prevent and counter all terrorist activities.
Terrorism is a broad problem and with the boom in social media, a platform is available to terrorists:
i. For better and faster communication;
ii. Access to resources to learn from their mistakes and that of others;
iii. Spreading their propaganda while adapting to new environs and remaining anonymous; and
iv. Exploit our complex hyper-connected world for their agenda.
Fortunately, there are many new technological innovations to help protect our freedom in these increasingly hostile and turbulent times. The most prominent new technology in the fight against terrorism are:
i. Big Data – Analytics
The military and intelligence agencies can use big data to fight the war against terrorism. Data can be analyzed to understand background, motives, modus operandi and methods of communication of persons or groups of interest. This can further be detailed into terrorist networks; who finances them, supplies them, supports them and who are their informants. Big data can also be used to establish patterns and make predictions on which population groups or what type of person would be most likely to join a terrorist organization.
As an example, in a project by the Qatar Computing Research Institute, big data was used to scrutinize and analyze social media such as Facebook and Twitter in order to locate the origins of supporters of terrorist organization ISIS. Over a period of 3 months, researchers monitored and analyzed three million tweets. They managed to pinpoint important characteristics and patterns among tweets that showed support for ISIS and terrorism, as well as those who opposed it. Using these findings, the researchers created algorithms that were able to group users as pro- or anti-ISIS with an accuracy of nearly 90 percent. It is clear to see the value of being able to identify which people would be most likely to join ISIS as this could help limit the proliferation of extremist groups.”
ii. Internet of Things (IoT)
The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) presents the connection of devices to not only the Internet but also to each other. The IoT enables increased convenience, efficiency and energy conservation. Now internet access is available to wearables and household devices such as fridges and washing machines, the IoT technology can easily be used for monitoring, location tracking, identification, surveillance and gaining access to networks. With all these functionalities, security experts have indicated that surveillance services will be able to intercept signals of networked devices in much the same way as they intercept cell phone signals. This can be used to monitor and analyze activities, enabling intelligence services to keep track of terrorists.
With the advancements in robotics, there is significant adoption of robots for military application, robots have been designed in three versions:
a. An attacker robot – armed with grenade launchers and rifles that minimize recoil;
b. A reconnaissance robot capable of detecting hazardous gases; and
c. A bomb disposal robot.
Another robot commonly used in the war against terrorism is the PackBot – this is a machine that locates and diffuses bombs.
The PackBot will eventually carry out complex tasks without any human interference and will be very effective in detecting terrorists and explosives. Various countries are developing autonomous robots that are able to eliminate terrorists and free hostages.
iv. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The massive increase in computing power and advances in machine learning have made it possible to examine huge amounts of data related to crime and terrorism, to identify underlying correlations and causes. Crime, radicalization and terrorism are non-random and even predictable. With some exceptions, they tend to cluster in time, space and among specific population groups.
Under my leadership, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has developed and is implementing the National Digital Economic policy and strategy. The policy and strategy is based on 8 pillars which are:
1. Developmental Regulation;
2. Digital Literacy & Skills;
3. Solid Infrastructure;
4. Service Infrastructure;
5. Digital Services Development & Promotion;
6. Soft Infrastructure;
7. Digital Society & Emerging Technologies; and
8. Indigenous Content Promotion & Adoption.
As an outcome to the implementation of the Development regulation pillar, directives have been given for the strict compliance to SIM card registration regulations, this will address the threats posed by unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards operating in the country. Furthermore, other initiatives under the soft infrastructure pillar are addressing the issues of cybersecurity and ensuring incident management and response readiness to physical and cyber threats. While the Digital Society & Emerging technology pillar is focused on providing the enabling environment for the development and adoption of new and emerging technologies.
In conclusion, Terrorists are proving more and more skillful at using sophisticated technology to organize and cause destruction. In order to have a fighting chance in the war on terror, we need to stay one step ahead and keep developing new-improved strategies, utilize new technology, adopt a collective approach which includes timely sharing of information and true collaboration. This will provide the core principles to ensure the protection of life and property of all Nigerians.
Once again, I want to commend the NARC for organizing this course and to appreciate them for inviting me to discuss this important topic. On that note, I wish you a very successful event and thank you for your kind attention.