A US-based Gambian criminologist, specialising on law enforcement and national security crisis, has described as relatively poor President Adama Barrow’s security arraignment under the Senegalese troops.
The Seattle based and leading advocate for the withdrawal of the West African troops, Modou Lamin Faye, said protecting the president goes way beyond carrying firearms, looking “cool” and intimidating. “It requires good protective intelligence gathering before escorting the president anywhere because you don’t know what kind of crowd or environment you are going to be in. Therefore, a team of analyst and tactical advance team (not only the military) should be deployed or do their homework in advance about the area or city that the president and members of his delegation are visiting to try and identify, assess, and reduce or eliminate the opportunity of potential threats and major vulnerability to the president, his delegation, and the public,” Faye told The Voice.
He added that after carefully doing a security risk assessment and identifying security vulnerabilities of many videos of how president Barrow is being protected by Senegalese protective security agents, he noticed that Gambia protective security detail during former president Jammeh’s regime used to do a better job in planning ahead to control the crowd and the area that Jammeh and his delegation meet the people.
“In some videos, I noticed Barrow being too closed to the crowd and exposed for someone to easily get to him with a weapon of any sort. There were also lots of distraction from the Senegalese bodyguards and poor formation skills, which means that they were not paying attention at other possible external threats,” he said.
He further observed that informal Senegalese security protective detail agents dress to escort “our president around”.
“From my observation, there are no security measures put in place by these Senegalese security protective agents to make sure that an escape route for the president is provided in case of an emergency during Barrow’s rallies to get Barrow quickly and safely in his vehicle and leave. Any reasonable person would believe that everyone runs everywhere to save themself in the event of life and death situation,” he noted.
He added: “Furthermore, the crowd is always close to Barrow’s convoy to the point where they can easily and successfully be ambushed by an enemy because there’s no room for escape except for when they drive over innocent people. Just because the army is always with the convoy to support doesn’t mean that Barrow is 100% safe. People planning an attack or ambush will always do their homework and look for security vulnerabilities which includes but not limited to escape routes before they make their move.”
This, he added, is why it’s important to carefully “do protective intelligence days, weeks, and months” (depending on where the president is visiting) before the president leaves. This can be done by deploying counterintelligence and advance team (different from the military advance team) to do their security risk assessment, barriers for crowd control, and create a SAFETY NET where first emergency responders (security protective agents, law enforcement, medical, and fire service) can communicate and have a clear route to respond to an emergency. Furthermore, at least two assault teams with machine gun mounted at a back of an SUV should always be with the president’s convoy”.
“This is not “19-0-0-mbahal” where a president can just pop his/her head out of a sunroof anytime or anywhere he/she wants. This is 21st century where a president can still be harm from distance, and this is something that Senegalese protective agents should be advising Barrow if they know what they are really doing.
“If you are going undermine your security protective agents and bring external agents, you should at least make sure that they know what they are doing and better. If we cannot trust and use our own security forces to safeguard the nation, then we might as well bring our flag down because we are not fully independent,” he added.
He said the Gambia security forces “do the job with pride and honour; the government just needs to know how to respect, value, and invest in them. I keep emphasizing the benefit of investing in our security system by training and equipping them better. Besides, “nobody can do for you better than yourself.”
“The reality is that, if we keep playing with the security of the nation, then we will end up being colonized for a second time and this time by the French, “Senegal” because the people in power are not calculating the fact that the next presidents of The Gambia and Senegal might not get along and then what? We will end up being like Russia and Ukraine, where Senegal will decide to “special operation” and liberate us,” Faye concluded.