WIKILEAKS:uk terrorism conference with africa

Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks 9:00PM GMT 03 Feb 2011
Ref ID: 09NAIROBI2434
Date: 12/2/2009 7:00
Origin: Embassy Nairobi
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

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British Muslims travelling to Somalia for ‘jihadi tourism’ 03 Feb 2011


1.(U) Summary: The State Department coordinator for the East Africa Regional Strategic Initiative (EARSI) met with UK officers from several North and East Africa missions as well as London based Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) specialists in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia October 13-14 for discussions of the British government’s counterterrorism efforts in the region. Officers from the British Home Office and Ministry of Defense also participated. The participants discussed the current state of the FCO’s counterterrorism programs, resources available for assistance programs and how their efforts might be affected by a change in government in the UK next year. All participants recognized the need for a regional perspective in CT. This conference was the first in what is expected to be a series of regional CT threat workshops worldwide. The discussions and presentations during the two day conference are summarized below. End Summary.
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Overview of the state of UK counterterrorism efforts
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2.(C) Overall there has been progress against the threat of transnational terrorism. The British government has reduced its threat level from Severe to Substantial on the five step scale (Low, Moderate, Substantial, Severe and Critical). There is increasing confidence within the UK security services that major terrorist threat networks are understood and monitored. Kinetic strikes and other pressure have had a debilitating impact on the Al-Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL). Al-Qaeda’s public narrative is changing in its perspective. It is becoming harder for AQSL to propagate an attractive vision to the Muslim world. There are signs that many Muslims are finding AQ and its ideology less attractive.
3.(C) The UK government sees a growing likelihood of domestic threats emerging within the UK and U.S., to include home grown jihadists and radicalized British Somalis and Somali-Americans, particularly those who have traveled to Somalia or Pakistan for indoctrination and training. There are also new challenges developing to counterterrorism efforts. The UK is seeing a wave of litigation related to actions taken after 9/11, including renditions, Guantanamo Bay detainees, etc. Legal actions by suspects in terrorist cases are having a severe effect on what counterterrorism tools are available to the UK authorities.
Budget pressures and their effect on CT
4.(C) Managing CT efforts in a tight fiscal climate is a major issue for the entire UK government. Most departments’ budgets have been severely cut this year and there is great uncertainty regarding 2010/2011 funding. There is a need to prioritize programs in order to get the best effect for the money. In order to justify spending, the UK CT community is having to demonstrate how each project will deliver the desired effect and reduce strategic risk. The FCO is among the ministries experiencing severe budget shortfalls. Exchange rate fluctuations in particular are causing severe cuts to FCO programs, causing a loss of about BPS 13 million (USD $ 21.6 million) from an initial allotment of BPS 39 million (USD $ 64.7 million) just from the FCO’s CT budget. The FCO expects to lose even more from budget cuts during this fiscal year. These conditions have led to the unofficial theme of this conference, “How to Do More with Less.”
UK Domestic political considerations and CT ——————————————-
5.(U) UK counterterrorism strategy is based on the four “Ps”:
— PURSUE terrorists wherever they are and stop terrorist attacks.
— PREVENT people from becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism.
— PROTECT the UK by strengthening defenses against terrorism.
— PREPARE to respond to an attack to lessen its impact.
6.(C) General elections must take place in the UK by the middle of next year and the participants agreed that there is likely to be a change in the government. Terrorism is not currently a major political issue in the ongoing political campaign and the FCO does not expect any new government to introduce fundamental policy changes in CT. The “4P” CT strategy is likewise unlikely to undergo major revisions. Domestic CT efforts aimed at protecting the UK homeland will likely remain the top priority, particularly within the PREVENT focus. NAIROBI 00002434 002.2 OF 005
7.(C) The highly controversial military operations ongoing in Afghanistan were characterized by the participants as a “massive” political issue. There is therefore little appetite among the British electorate for more “foreign adventures.” In the UK, now is not the time for bold new initiatives, particularly any which would involve new spending. Any particular problem related to CT is going to have to be evaluated through two questions: Does this problem/issue represent a threat to the UK, and does the response need to come from the UK?
8.(U) The challenge facing the FCO is to demonstrate a positive return on the BPS 3.5 billion (USD $5.8 billion) that has been spent on counterterrorism in recent years, particularly to an incoming government. The FCO also must be able to present convincingly its CT policies to the ministers of a new government. Many of the people who will form the new government have been outside of government policy circles for a long time, and they may have a simplistic point of view on CT issues.
Terrorism Risks in East Africa
9.(C) The FCO sees three principal terrorist risks in the East Africa region:
— A potential threat from ethnic Somalis residing in the UK. Large numbers of UK passport holders live in Somaliland. For example, in the largest school in Hargeisa about 300 of the 1000 students hold UK passports. Also, a significant number of UK Somali youths are sent to Somaliland for “straightening out” by their families. There is also believed to be a certain amount of so-called “Jihadi tourism” to southern Somalia by UK citizens of Somali ethnicity. The threat from Somalia is compounded by the fact that within East Africa there is a lack of local government recognition of the terrorist threat.
— A potential for terrorist/Al-Qaeda safehaven in al-Shabaab controlled territory (as well as within other poorly controlled areas of East Africa). However, this is seen by the FCO as still being largely a potential rather than actual threat.
— A variety of threats against UK assets/interests within the region. These include terrorist transit routes in East Africa, corruption within the local governments, and the existence of an Al Qaeda support network throughout the East Africa region. There is a need to tie CT into efforts to achieve wider security sector reform throughout the region.
10.(C) UK CT assistance in Africa is risk driven, with an emphasis on the PROTECT and PREPARE elements of the UK’s overall CT strategy. Its goal is to prioritize efforts to address the above risks with an eye to reduced resources available. Each risk is accompanied by the desired effect to be achieved through UK CT efforts.
11.(C) Risk number 1: UK/Somali citizens conduct attacks inside the UK, either self motivated or as directed by a terrorist organization. Closely tied to this is the risk of attacks from 3rd country nationals. Effects (with emphasis on the PREVENT strategy):
— Develop the capability to understand who is coming and going between the UK and Somalia. Determine what transit routes and countries they are using as well as which communities (ethnic, national, religious) or segments of communities are facilitating this transit.
— Build will and capacity in transit countries to monitor, track, and disrupt violent extremist travel. This would include encouraging joint efforts to combat extremist travel between countries such as Djibouti, Somaliland, and Kenya.
— Develop means to counter or at least hinder the ability of extremists to enter and exit Somalia for illegal activities.
— Improve regional countries’ capabilities to investigate and develop evidence in order to obtain criminal convictions, both in East African and UK courts.
— Reduce the attractiveness of Somalia as a destination for “jihad tourism.”
12.(C) Risk Number 2: Somalia provides a safehaven environment that allows terrorists to train and operate. Effects:
— Disaggregate al-Shabaab from Al-Qaeda. This would include separating al-Shabaab from the concept of global jihad.
— Ultimately achieve a stable and secure Somalia with an effective NAIROBI 00002434 003.2 OF 005 government able to prevent Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) activity.
13.(C) Risk Number 3: Al-Qaeda and violent extremist organizations in Somalia and/or other ungoverned areas within East Africa plan and conduct attacks on Western/UK interests in the region (such as businesses, tourists, NGOs, diplomats and UK military personnel). Effects:
— Reduce the vulnerability of identified UK-linked soft targets.
— Reduce the attractiveness of these targets to violent extremist organizations and increase the local government’s ability to protect them.
14.(C) For each of the above three risks the desired effects recognize the need to develop political will within regional governments. Most governments in the region also lack the legal structures they need to deal with complex counterterrorism cases. Also, there is an urgent need for the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers to get their message out to the people of Somalia in order to counteract the radicals’ propaganda. Right now the radicals control the debate, particularly through control of radio stations within Somalia. (Note: Some of the participants wondered if there might be any way the U.S. and UK could cooperate to get anti-violence/radicalization messages to Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.)
UK CT Strategy for East Africa by Country
15.(C) Kenya: UK CT efforts in Kenya are focused on two key areas:
— Establishment of a radio communications network for the Administrative Police (AP) in the North East and Coast provinces for border security. However, getting multi-agency buy-in within the Kenyan government is difficult. The intelligence service has primary responsibility for CT but the police services provide critical support, including border control.
— Development of a Special Forces interdiction/containment capability within the Kenyan armed forces (for interdicting terrorist infiltration along the border and transit routes). The Kenyan Ministry of Defense sees this unit as being a fully capable SF unit. However, the UK assessment is that the unit still falls short of full SF capabilities. There is concern that the unit might be diverted from CT to perform other duties. The unit also has yet to be tested under operational conditions.
16.(C) Eritrea: The UK agrees with the USG that the government of Eritrea presents significant problems. However, they feel that they don’t yet have a full understanding of the effect of Eritrean aid on al-Shabaab.
17. (C) Somalia/Somaliland: The FCO covers Somaliland from Addis Ababa, separate from the Somalia office that operates from the British High Commission in Nairobi, though the UK does not recognize Somaliland as an independent nation. The FCO believes Somaliland can be a key player in UK strategy in the region. If the country can be stabilized it can potentially be used as a foundation for stabilizing the rest of Somalia. One current FCO effort involves helping Somaliland authorities track immigration and passenger traffic through air and sea ports and across land ports of entry. However, they recognize that most illegal travelers avoid monitored or official border crossings. There are also efforts to draft a mutual legal assistance agreement/treaty, but any such agreement would not go into effect until after the Somaliland elections. The UK plans to include Somaliland in its regional police project, although work to upgrade the Somaliland police also will occur until after the upcoming elections. The UK government sees Ethiopia as exercising a helpful influence in stabilizing Somaliland both politically and diplomatically.
18. (C) Tanzania: Currently the FCO assigns a low priority to CT assistance for Tanzania. However, they are concerned that increased pressure on terrorist travel routes in Kenya could push extremists to travel into Tanzania. They also see evidence of travel from Yemen to Kenya and other places along the East Africa coast by sea. The FCO sees the Tanzanians as eager to cooperate on CT and participate in regional operations and training.
19. (C) Ethiopia: Ethiopia suffers from multiple domestic insurgent and terrorist groups. There is also evidence of terrorists transiting through Ethiopia en route to other countries. While the Ethiopians recognize the existence of a terrorist threat, they have NAIROBI 00002434 004 OF 005 their own definition of terrorism, one that concentrates on threats to their own government and territory. The new Ethiopian counterterrorism law is characterized by the FCO as very bad. The Ethiopian police and security forces have received help from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in security sector reform. The FCO believes there is a strong likelihood Ethiopia will eventually suffer a significant terrorist attack, probably in Addis Ababa, perpetrated by al-Shabaab and/or Al-Qaeda. The UK is therefore working to help the Ethiopian government built up its capability to respond effectively to such an incident. For example, the UK is conducting post-blast investigations training.
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The FCO’s Counter Terrorism & Radicalization Program
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20. (U) The CTRP is an element of the PREVENT strategy designed to deter people who assist or encourage terrorism by changing the environment in which extremists operate, as well as support and assist those who wish to challenge extremist ideologies. The 2009/2010 budget for CTRP was BPS 36 million. It is being distributed in the following percentages:
— 79 percent for Asia, the Gulf and the Middle East.
— 10 percent for East Africa.
— 11 percent for North Africa.
Use of an Impact Analysis Tool ——————————
21. (U) Delivering Targeted Effects on Counter Terrorism (DeTECT) is an impact analysis tool used by the FCO in evaluating CT efforts. The FCO sees DeTECT as a critical tool for determining priorities and focusing efforts, particularly in light of the current resource constraints. The FCO believes DeTECT is a successful means for evaluating efforts in the PROTECT area and its use is likely to be expanded into the other three Ps. Several UK diplomatic posts have modified their CT interventions after DeTECT review. One limitation of DeTECT is that it can only capture the impact of CT interventions in countries abroad, not inside the UK.
Office of Security and Counter Terrorism
22. (C) Key issues for the UK Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) are:
— The ongoing recession equals a shrinking CT budget.
— The Intercept Modernization Program (communications). This issue has been caught up in the “Surveillance Society” debate within the UK. There are also concerns regarding how to use communications intercepts as evidence. Such intercepts are not now readily admissible as evidence in UK court cases. The OSCT wants to take advantage of the experiences of foreign partners in using such evidence in court.
— Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) threats. The OSCT recognizes the need to share expertise in this area with partner nations.
— The need for UK CT efforts to be planned and conducted in a manner that will avoid the perception of religious, racial and cultural bias.
— Olympic security looking forward to the 2012 London games.
— The detainees debate, which centers on how to balance rights vs. security.
— The fear that a Mumbai style attack could take place in the UK.
— The international dimension, which includes effectively working with partners and looking for best practices that can possibly be emulated.
UK Ministry of Defense Perspective
23. (U) Afghanistan is currently the UK armed forces’ top priority. The focus on Afghanistan makes it difficult to get attention for counterterrorism efforts. In its CT efforts the MoD recognizes the need for more soft power efforts to combat extremism. A policy paper on the topic is currently under review within the ministry.
24. (C) Comment: The key theme of the conference was the need for the FCO to continue its CT efforts in a time of greatly reduced resources. Closely related to that issue is the question of what will need to be done to present the CT mission to any new UK government that takes office in the next year. While the participants are not optimistic they will see any significant NAIROBI 00002434 005 OF 005 increase in CT funding in the near future, they do believe it will be possible to focus the FCO’s CT efforts into areas that will address the most urgent perceived risks as well as take advantage of the UK’s comparative strengths. They also reiterated the UK government’s continued interest in coordinating CT efforts with the USG and other allies.
25. (U) American Embassy Addis Ababa reviewed this cable and authorized American Embassy Nairobi to transmit it. RANNEBERGER