Changing Mode of Crime Worries Regional Intelligence Agencies

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A regional body charged with intelligence and surveillance on cross-border organized crime, is worried at the changing face of crime and how it is becoming more sophisticated.

The Eastern Africa Fusion and Liaison Unit (EA-FLU), with its headquarters in Uganda is mandated to support and facilitate regional cooperation initiatives to curb terrorism and other transnational threats posed by organized criminals. 

Much as there has not been any large-scale terrorist attacks outside Somalia and Kenya since 2010, the intelligence network says more and new types of cross-border crime are prevalent in the region.

Uganda suffered a major attack in 2010 when simultaneous actions in Kampala left some 74 people dead, while Kenya has experienced close to 20 attacks involving between a dozen and 150 people each. 

But murders, kidnaps for a ransom, robberies and cyber attacks and piracy, among other crime across borders, continue. 

The EA-FLU comprises ten countries of Burundi, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

It was formed in May 2018 in Kampala, following a resolution of the 455th African Union Peace and Security Council Summit that was held on 2nd September 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The EA-FLU operates with the support on organisations like the AU, the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), East African Community (EAC),  and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). 

The UPDF Chief of Staff, Land Forces, Maj General Leopold Kyanda says since the establishment of the unit, there has been a lot of improvement in intelligence gathering, handling and use in the region, leading to suppression and prevention of imminent disasters. 

He says that because most of the crimes are for monetary purposes and not a responsibility of a specific government, they become hard to fight, hence the need for trust and the sharing of intelligence between countries. 

General Kyanda was speaking at the third anniversary of the establishment of the unit. The unit was formed to facilitate the exchange of ‘actionable intelligence’ on threats like transnational terrorism, violence extremism, negative forces and armed groups, as well as transnational organized crime.

These are  usually funded by criminal activities like kidnaping for a ransom, drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, weapon trafficking and illicit wildlife trade, according to reports.

Kyanda says organized crime does not only affect the security of an individual, community or government, but also threatens democracy and development of communities. 

He therefore called for close collaboration between state agencies and other intelligence organs to tackle organized crime across borders of the region as well other neighbouring regions. 

The Coordinator of the EA-FLU, Dr. Tom Magambo, said the existing and emerging threats continue to be more complex, dispersed, difficult to detect and more challenging to defend against sometimes, hence the need for enhanced coordination. 

He however said that since inception, notable strides have been made towards accomplishing the strategic objective of contributing to peace and stability in the region. 

Magambo says another challenges they are facing is getting enough personnel, but is hopeful, that when the government of Uganda finally accredits the unit, it will be easier to even get a bigger office block. 

He rallied other member countries that have not yet deployed intelligence personnel to the the unit to do so soon. 

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