My generation in Britain grew up under the constant threat of Irish Republican terrorism. During the 1970s life in Northern Ireland, and sometimes even in London or Birmingham, was marred by security scares and bomb attacks. I remember, as a child, hearing a bomb explode nearby, something that I have only experienced subsequently when working, as a diplomat, in a war-zone in Afghanistan. Today the landscape of terrorism has changed; the challenge is global, making it more important than ever that we work internationally to tackle this threat.
Violent extremism is rapidly becoming a generational challenge. It undermines social and political inclusion, spreads fear and hate, and threatens lives. Whilst the UK may appear more ‘at-risk’ than Zambia, both our countries’ security organisations are well aware that the recruitment of young, often vulnerable men and women can happen anywhere in the world. This recruitment, by radicals, to carry out terrorist acts, must be undermined and defeated.
In an effort to tackle terrorism, the UK Government has assisted the capacity of Anti-Terrorism police units and other security agencies in many countries. It follows that the UK Government wants to continue its close working relationship with Zambia in order to improve security in Southern Africa.
This week, here in Lusaka, 18 officers from Zambia’s police, immigration, military and customs authorities, are training with UK counter-terrorism experts from the Ministry of Defence in London. The purpose of the course is to develop Zambia’s capacity to respond effectively to the threat of terrorism, making both our countries more secure.
In today’s world, terrorism knows no boundaries. Terrorist organisations often flourish within environments where other criminal activities (such as human trafficking, illegal wildlife trade, and money laundering) exist. Unfortunately many countries, Zambia included, are vulnerable. Countering terrorist organisations requires a ‘Whole of Government’ approach. I am delighted that the Zambian authorities share this view and that the officers attending this course come from a range of government and security departments. Being able to identify suspicious money flows, trace illegal migrants, and investigate criminal activity, all increase a country’s ability to identify potential terrorist activity.
More broadly, this course builds on our bilateral military relationship. The UK has backed Zambia’s significant role in International Peacekeeping, for example supporting Zambia’s valuable peacekeeping work in the Central African Republic ahead of the deployment of the second Zambian battalion in 2016. I’m delighted to announce that the UK will support Zambia with its next deployment in 2017.
No country has all the answers to the complex problem that we face from terrorism. By working together, we can learn from each other, particularly on the deep-rooted challenges of tackling extremism and radicalisation within our own borders. I am confident that this week’s training will further strengthen Zambia’s anti-terrorism capacity, and help keep us all safe.
Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, OBE
British High Commissioner