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Ugandan school girls in uniform walking outside.

Counter-narrative messaging to expose terrorist illegitimacy

Information Operations in Africa

October 2016, Number 07.04

“As a military officer who has spent the largest part of his career in communications and information management and operations in Uganda and Somalia — where the African Union (AU) has fought to defeat al-Shabaab for close to 10 years — I have seen tremendous efforts put forth to fight terrorism by my country and by the AU. I’m writing to strengthen an already growing notion around the world that it is high time that information operations — and indeed counternarratives — are given priority as the only remaining powerful weapon to deal with the menace of terrorism.

The East African region has been a hot spot for terrorist activities. Some of the terror groups in the region include: al-Qaida, al-Shabaab, the Allied Democratic Front, the Lord’s Resistance Army, al-Ittihad al-Islamiyah and al-Muhajiroon. All of these groups use narratives as their weapons of choice. These narratives target citizens in East Africa, the East African diaspora, the terrorists’ own forces and disengaged terrorist fighters...”

Excerpt from Deo Akiiki, “Information Operations in Africa,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 7, No. 4, 2016: 54-57.

Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki is head of strategic communications at the Uganda Ministry of Defence. He has led military information support operations to defeat al-Shabaab terrorist propaganda, and is an expert at crafting strategies to counter extremist narratives in print and electronic media. He holds a master’s degree in human rights and local governance from Uganda Martyres University and graduated from the Marshall Center’s Program on Applied Security Studies.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.