Our Intelligence Systems Suffering from our Negligence Symptoms

SOUTH SUDAN IN DIE-LEMMA: From the right side, the southend of the Southern nation of the war-ravaged Sudan, the bullet is being pushed in. From the left side, the northend of the Southern country of the oil-rich Sudan, the oil is being pumped in. Damn the resource curse of South Sudan!

We listen to them. They know that we listen to them. What kind of stupidity? You know I’m listening to what you say every day, and you go on talking about salaries, ammunition, supporting us, and bringing more tanks near the borders, and the rest,” Sudan Minister Ali Karti said (to Reuters).

By what means are they listening to us? This question can even generate that quickest and simplest answer from a 7-year-old Southerner. So which of the following means is True and which is False?

a- Telephone!

b Spies

c- Internet: (Facebook!, Wikileaks, Weakleaks!)

d- None of the above

e- All of the above

How to put your answer? Use the Comments space below or the Polls attached herewith. The winning votes or comment will be broadcast on the Weakleaks! Polleaks page or on the author’s (penndengong) facebook wall or Twitter site @jonnypenny.

How is our Intelligence system suffering from our Negligence symptom?

  It is a fact undeniable that a so-called security operative uses his status to attract respect from the public. To make sure that women and other people prostrate before him, he openly broadcasts his findings or some ‘classified news’ at a joint or beer place, or even at our Tea Parliaments. After that, we would dial a number of a friend in Jonglei, Kampala or Watchington and say proudly, “I just heard from Gen. Samuel Security or Col. Ahmed Chol (all pseudonyms) that the forces are blah blah blah…aha…!” To be more specific, let me analyse the findings on the Polleaks (opinion poll) given above.

1- Telephone

In the first week of January, 2012, when I was in Kampala, my attempts to call my friend in Juba (using our independent code +211..) was met with a rude answer from that mobile service provider. In a very heavy Arabic that I thought I had dodged when I voted ‘Separation’ last year, the voice said finally in English, ‘Sorry you have dialed a wrong number or the number that is not in service…” (or something of that kind). As I was left wondering about and wandering around, a cousin advised me to use the old code (now Khartoum’s) +249…, and it went through! Juba, come on! Where is our independence now if we are still being tapped on phone by Khartoum as confessed by their foreign minister above? I thought the deadline for all mobile networks to change their codes from +249 to +211 was already dead, i.g. gone since last October. Is this not a negligence from our intelligence apparatus?

 If not that negligence, then this. “Hey, you hear our president is travelling to his village today, and he will tackle the issues of blah..blah…blah..” This is exactly what a Kenyan minister condemned us for during the funeral of the late Garang in 2005. “How can you dial a number from Thuraya phone, whose control room you know very well, and begin to broadcast aloud, ‘the Chairman is travelling by helicopter from Rumbek or Kampala today…’ and you think you are talking alone?”

2- Spies

OF RUSSIAN MAKE! This chopper was captured in the deepest village of Palouch in Jonglei/Upper Nile State as it was delivering some drugs and munitions to George Athor (RIP). It was intercepted and detained by the SPLA in 2010. Now, can you blame our forces for firing warning shots at white helicopters who happen to hover over their barracks without information or permission as it happened to Russian soldiers in Yambio last here. Was it not reported also in 2009 by UN that Bashir branded his planes with UN symbols to use in Darfur, and also claimed this chopper was used for humanitarian missions for Fashoda relief organization...?

There are too many ‘Darfuris’ in Juba, some of them with skin akin to Bashir’s own kin or even lighter than that of tribe of Ja’ali. Such species might be spies in sheep skins, who come with spices for our economy, while (we) not knowing they are spies against our autonomy. In our country, there are too many shopkeepers crammed in one shop of Arabs’ origin in the name of northern Sudanese traders, call them merchants-cum-mercenaries. No papers, no visas, no taxes, etc.

By the way, who said the whole Darfur region and their ‘coloureds’ are good dudes to the Duts and Dengs of the South? Is it not the same Darfur that is now complaining to NCP-led government for not having rewarded them for fighting a 21-year Jihad against the South? I support our Minister of Interior’s proposal of taking all those roaming and roving ‘refugees’ to where they belong, say, refugee camps. Yes, we can create here Hai Yousuf and Jabarona, etc. for the Northern IDPs (Intelligence Displaying Personnel) just the way they did it to our Southern IDPs (Intentionally Displeased Persons) who were settled in the deserts outside Khartoum in the 90s. Reasons for labelling and settling South Sudanese in camps of structures made of cardboard and donkey/camel dungs, as if they were not the same citizens of the Sudan: because they come from the South, meaning ‘Not Trusted’ security-wise!

I think we are really intelligent (Intelligent) but not deligent. If we were not such negligent, then why failed to read the world political meter of the day? I have no problems with Chinese signing the old deals for the new pipelines and petroleum-related businesses. I have no problem with Russia having its Embassy or its semblance here, but I have every problem with them refusing to take part in the UN mission (UNMISS) from whom they are paid millions of dollars. What is the real reason in this ideal season they are now pulling out of the UN Mission in South Sudan? I doubt if this, though…

“There is a likelihood that our unit will be withdrawn, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted Gatilov as saying. He said Moscow had repeatedly asked the UN Secretariat and the South Sudan authorities to take measures to ensure the Russians’ security.” (sudantribune.com). What an irony and sarcasm! So Russia in the name of UN is now condemning South Sudanese for not ensuring maximum security to their (UN) soldier who have been sent and paid to give South Sudanese security after the split of the country. What do they mean?

The Russians (why not UNMISS?) just grounded their helicopters in Juba and refuse to diffuse the semi-genocide in Jonglei state. Why? That they are not given security. Some of the fake and vague excuses included the SPLA’s shooting of their helicopter in the LRA rebel-haunted Western Equatoria last August. Well, WES Governor, Joseph Bakosoro did explain, with apology to UNMISS, the reasons for the warning shot at their straying chopper.

Actually, if I were the commander of that legion in that region over which the unannounced (but UNMISS usually informs the states of their visits) helicopter was hovering, I would shoot at it. Why? Because I have ever heard of Khartoum sending aircrafts marked ‘UN’ to spy in Darfur. I have also seen a helicopter captured at Palouch around Malakal while delivering supplies to the late Gen. George Athor. The chopper that was confiscated in that sophisticated mission in 2010 was handed over free of charge: of financial charges nor legal charges back to Khartoum last year (2011) just to appease Khartoum and their allies who manufactured and manned it. Giving them such immunity through impunity is negligence at the highest order. Yet they are not happy!

By the time I was still a cow boy in my village in 1988 (picture taken in 2008 while I was on oil baseline survey), this Russian-made MIG 23 terrorised us but fate brought it down, thanks to the SPLA. It almost crashlanded on us and our goats at Kolmarek. It was our turn to terrorize its Libyan pilot who begged us not to treat him the Gaddafi way, his Russian colleague having crashed into flames some kilometres away at Pagua, almost crushing our mothers on lalop-fetching expedition: two metalic angels just in my village! That's why I became a little SPLA soldier immediately the following year.

Last week, I heard also of the Russian pilots and other crew members released by South Sudan without charges. I gather that they were captured and detained with their air scrab (call aircraft) in such dubious missions in Sarjas, Unity State. I know of other Russian involvement dating back to the war times as seen in the picture of the MIG 23 fighter, on which I am sitting there.

There is this other reason presented by Russian government to justify their dangerous neutrality both in the Jonglei massacres as well as in Abyei and other peace-related disputes in Sudan. “According to the Kremlin website the Russian soldiers and helicopters are to withdraw from South Sudan by April 1st after “honorably” fulfilling the tasks of maintaining peace and security in the country.” Come on guys, and tell us the truth. Are you running away from insecurity or you have ‘honorably’ completed your mission of providing security to South Sudanese local population for whom you signed the contract?

Now, who does not know that all the nationalities comprising the UNMIS which was graduated into UNMISS by just adding another ‘S’ (South) were approved by President Omar al Bashir? Any country that is not friendly to Khartoum was either cancelled out of the mission or counselled into the mission. That is all. Therefore, we know the reasons why Russians refused to guard the civilians in Abyei, Jonglei, etc. the way we also know the reasons why the UN soldiers played that game in Rwanda in 1994. The moment you see them pulling out very fast in the name of insecurity, then there is something nasty coming behind.

Similarly, I am toying around with the suspicious feelings that something has gone amiss in our current security level in South/Sudan. At this most needy hour when Khartoum is in looming oil war with Juba, and the Russians running away for unclear reasons…do not be just afraid, be very afraid!

3- Media versus Security

This is Peter Ngor Garang Ariath, an editor of The Destiny newpaper whose destiny was decided by the National Security guys. They collected him with Dengdit Ayok, the author of the in/famous 'Nyanbany' article said to be critical of the wedding of the first daughter (Adut Kiir Mayar). If the whole world had not made noise, the dudes would still be in now. So they were released unconditionally but not without having our young nation permanently profiled on the world's largest website, the Wikipedia, as the newest nation whose constitution does not have 'Media Law', hence does not have freedom of expressions (reads so under democracy chapter).

On this section, I am going to write right away from my experiences. I am one of the cadres being involved in fighting this vicious war of psychology between the Media practitioners and the Security personnel. The war stems out from the fact that whereas the Security operatives believe that the media operators are threat to security, the Media believes that the Security is a threat to individual freedom. This dates back to the liberation struggle, which was primarily anchored to the communist bloc, thanks to the cold war that liberated our liberators from that ideology of seeing any journalist as a Western spy. That backgound, coupled with the brand of security-vs-media borrowed recently from Khartoum, is haunting the South Sudanese journalists of the day.

Therefore, I suffer. I first experienced first hand the siblings sort of rivalry between the Media and the Security when I was in Yei as an English tutor in the SPLA’s college known as ISS (Institute of Strategic Studies) in 2005. During the graduation of the SPLA’s senior officers in 2006, I was invited and I, of course, had to come along with my camera. As I tried to capture some happy moments of the graduands, one colonel violently whisked me away, “La, la, la! Don’t! I would rather you point me with a Kalashnikov that with that thing of yours…” That thing of mine was a camera versus a Kalashnikov or AK47, an automatic assault rifle invented by a now 92-year-old Russian Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947. That’s why the Anya-nya 1 guys missed it! That is why they had to resort to using Molatov Cocktail. That one is a gun also invented by another general before 1947. It is your beer bottle + oil = grenade!.

Having given the reason giving rise to this level of ‘cameraphobia’ (hatred against the camera), I suffered another blow in 2008. As I took my choir (The Little Doves) to entertain H.E. President Salva Kiir and his old guards on the Veterans Day (August 18) in Juba, I had that thing. As we kicked off with our popular hit ‘Garang Addana Horriya…”, the Big Man stepped in and swayed about with us and his men. Having mingled with his children democratically, I took good shots of the rare scene. This is the beginning of the end of my stage presentation and photographing in the president-attended functions. The rest of the story is mine and David Pachong’s (my colleague). We had to take our camera from the presidential security office three days later, but not without signing an oath that Mr. Penn penned himself, “I hereby declare not to take any picture of the president illegally…” Whatever that adverb means.

Thirdly, another incidence occurred in front of the presidential advisor, in the middle of the street, in 2010. There was this popular nationalistic program dubbed ‘Keep Juba Clean’ that was initiated and executed by none other than Her Excellency, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior. Supported by a mob of celebrities ranging from musicians, Miss Malaikas, journalists, activists and me, the 12-week volunteering wound up on me in a bad way just a week before it was disbanded by Nairobi Fly, an insect that I suspect might have followed the Kenyans to Juba.

As I used to work with my camera in my left hand and the garbage can in my right, some ‘security personnel’ just picked me up and took me for interrogation at their headquarters along the Juba Airport-Ministry Road. The office where I was locked up for some good four hours ironically happened to be my former office of ‘The Liberator’, an SPLA magazine that I co-founded and incorporated under the department of information in the Directorate  of Moral Orientation (formerly known as PMO) in the General Headquarters — thanks to Gen. George Athor (RIP), my former boss. When Mama Rebecca was given detail of my temporary kidnapping, she intervened by calling up the authorities ‘from above’, whose orders made me a free man before 3PM.

My crime? Holding a camera that they believed I might have used for taking pictures of the convoy of military war ware (tanks and armoured trucks) that headed in the northerly direction at midday in the busiest only tarmacked road in our multi-national city of Juba. I had to reclaim and retrieve my camera three days later not because I was guilty but because I asked, “Did you know that many Arab ‘traders’ were busy taking pictures with their mobile phones and cameras in those shops lining the roads all the way from Konyo-Konyo to Customs Market? Even if I had taken your convoy pictures, what danger does that poise to our nation?”

Biel Boutrus proudly holds up for my camera the sample National ID Card belonging to H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit just a few minute after the closing of the Independence Declaration Ceremony at Garang's Mausoleum on July 9, 2011. This document together with The African Bible, the Flash of Sudan which the President confiscated from being handed over to Presideent Bashir and many other national souvenirs that would be part of the expensive antics later in 2050 AD, were abandoned at the podium, showing the height of the negligence of our security over the property of South Sudan.

I have observed that the security guys who arrest cameramen and women do not refer to any immediate law but to the old belief that a journalist is a dangerous person, even if it means a journalists of their own army media. For example, I happened to watch a rare spectacle on the 28th day of May, 2011, in Bor, the day the Southerners (SPLA) celebrated their 28th Anniversary of the May 16 revolution. The security personnel manhandled, roughed up and arrested my former colleague, Mayom Bul Atem, just for taking pictures of the military parade. He had to be released a day later with bruises, especially when it was discovered that he was the managing editor of ‘The Liberator’, the said SPLA magazine, whose photos Mayom was taking.

The last of my media-versus-security escapades was at Nyakuron Cultural Centre. It began at the gates during one of the Awilo Longomba’s shows. A carful of ladies and three gentlemen pulled up at the gate and waved threatening at the security (correction: securico) guards to fly the gate open. When the ticket lad appeared loaded with them labelled  ’50-Pound’, the driving young boss shook his head monotonously and asked, “You mean you don’t know me?!” As the ticket guy responded, “Yes, I kow you sir as our customer tonight, and that’s why I am asking you for a ticket. If you don’t have, please here you are…” To the surprise and dissapointment of all the queue-standers, the man lashed out his national security ID card and displayed it in such a way that everyone saw it. They penetrated as the security guards prostrated!

AFTER THE KIDNAPPING AND STABBING IN 2006 AND 2007 RESPECTIVELY: The author (John Penn de Ngong) at Makerere University after surviving attacks on campus on June 7, 2007, a year after cheating death at the hands of mysterious kidnappers in Kampala, April 25, 2006. Reasons: He once wronte, "I was almost killed for just one obvious reason, the very reason they sacrificed and crucified Jesus Christ for: telling the truth; and telling it just as it is."

As they came in late (around 11PM), there was not any idle table other than ours. We were a bunch of three journalist-cum-artists who would move up and down taking pictures ones Awilo screamed out with another hit. They squarely seated their ladies on our seats besides grabbing the neighbours’ unoccupied chairs, as if to punish them for having gone to empty their bladders during such a busy show. When we came back from the shooting, they scanned us up and down, down and up, and grinned and laughed, “Who said journalists are seated at high tables?”

No sooner had we reacted with our artists’ bouncing poses than one of the organizers tugged me aside by my Tee-shirt’s very short sleeve. “Don’t you know those ones are from the office of the President? Please, leave them, we don’t want our show closed.” He appeased us with free seats but on the rails of the stage, from where we could watch Awilo changing his shirts and sipping his Johnny, the Walker, to help him walk back to the stage, or something of that kind.

Let me defend myself over condemning them here. In fact, I have no problem with them forcefully capturing our table, I have a problem with them advertizing their status, especially when we learned in another function that they were not from the president’s house or office as claimed. So many conmen in the name of security out there contribute to our Intelligence service being a victim of negligence by the public, which is supposed to cooperate in providing community policing.

Community policing should be one of the best method we should keep away the thousands of foreigners robbing and scaring away investors from our young nation. Community policing includes local chiefs fighting local thieves in their areas, including those complicated cattle raiders. The women, chiefs, local youth and children know not only the strangers in their villages but also whoever behaves in a strange way around there. So let no one declare themselves the only exclusive providers of security in South Sudan. If so done with impunity and immunity in our commmunity, it will make our intelligence systems suffer from general negligence syndromes such as explained above.

4- Internet

  It should be borne in mind that the term media is the mother of all those communications channels, including the internet, and also the ‘externet’ (don’t look up this word in your dictionary, I will define it elsewhere in another article later). The Internet includes the websites, especially the security-unfriendly website. I am talking about the Wikileaks and its sons and daughters such as ‘not my Weakleaks’ but the Facebook, the Twitter, etc. Just go around those social media sites and you will know what even Salva Kiir and his Ears and Eyes are yet to see and hear one month later. That is why I advise the security friends not to carry out their operations of hunting for bad boys online because they are the source of their intelligence.

Not only that but if you begin arresting social media practitioners, you risk contracting for your boss the Mubarak’s virus. What is it? Facebook war! Or don’t you know that the Egyption Revolution that is still going on today is called ‘The Facebook Revolution’? Where do you think they camped and recruited their fighters? On Facebook and Twitter. And when President Hosni Mubarak tried to send his boys to arrest them and shut down the internet in an attempt to kill the revolution, the Facebookers beat them in their own game. Tahrir Square was the final station whereby the ‘Twitterers and Facebookers’ would book their spaces and exchange their physical faces.

Consider this quote from my fellow Sudanese blogger, Amir Ahmad Nasr (aka Drima), on his weblog: “The recent Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have demonstrated to the world that young Muslim freedom fighters today have something explosive in their hands. No, it’s not a bomb, stupid. It’s a computer connected to the Internet. And it has the power to help ignite an uprising, and blow apart the structures of ignorance, repression and indoctrination that too often still imprison the Muslim mind.”

5- None of the Above

If you do not agree that our Intelligence system is undermined by all those four negligence symptoms, then give me another list in the comment space at the end of this post.

6- All of the Above.

If you believe all of the above six factors (including the section No. 6 above) are symptoms of the negligence of our intelligence system, then suggest ways of improving our intelligence and security status in the baby republic of South Sudan. Don’t you do it in such a way that it jeopardizes the Republic, which means the public, but let your method be pro-people so that the African Spring does not follow the Arab Spring with South Sudan championing it.

Finally, watch out that none robs you of your basic rights and turn my best wishes to all of my readers and my leaders of a ‘Happy New Year, into those of the worst witches of the ‘Heavy New Year’, 2012!