Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Jammeh is going to be issuing ID cards to Islamic militants" say authorities in Senegal

Senegalese police checkpoint at entrance of a luxury hotel
When the Gambian dictator Yaya Jammeh, abruptly and without warning changed the name of The Gambia to the Islamic, Republic of The Gambia last month, many, including us here at the Sidi Sanneh Blog, attributed it as part of his grander scheme of appeasing the Saudi's and Gulf State into offering development aid to his cash-strapped country   after similar assistance from the European Union was held in escrow because the country's appalling human rights record.

The change occured shortly before the Israeli Ambassador to Senegal who is concurrently accredited to The Gambia presented his letters of credence in Banjul as his country's new Ambassador who's stationed in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

In a Times of Israel interview shortly thereafter Ambassador Hirschson openly questioned   the wisdom as well as the timing of the change in the name of the country by hinting that it could yet prove to be a slippery slope with unforeseen consequences.  He was quoted as saying that "you are not really a master of your future.  These things sometimes take a life of their own", referring to the insertion of "Islamic state" in the midst of the havoc by ISIS.

Gambia has suddenly become a country of interest in the fight against Islamic terror because of the country's lax national identification (ID) laws and multiple types of identification documents that are in use.  At the inception, there was the stenciled and laminated ID and voters cards which were later replaced by biometrics national ID cards with a microchip embedded containing vital personal data of the individual.  This program that met all international standards was discontinued because it was tamper-proof and thus cannot be altered or manipulated in any form. It proved too transparent for the regime of Yaya Jammeh.

The Gambia decided that it will revert to the old stenciled/ laminated ID card that can easily be manipulated and altered in place of the national biometrics ID card program that had met all international standards, including the ECOWAS-sanctioned ID program that will foster and make possible freer movement of persons across borders.  This program came into effect January 1 2016.

In light of these developments, Senegal has decided to scrutinize all personal ID documents, especially of those issued by The Gambia.  According to a source in Dakar who is very close to the presidency, "Senegal thinks Jammeh is going to be issuing ID cards to Islamic militants, so they are now scrutinizing Gambian documents."  The same source proceeded to advise thus: "Readers should detest and avoid travelling with laminated documents."