The National Security Co-ordinator, Mr Yaw Donkor, has confirmed that two Ghanaians have joined the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He said per the records of the National Security, Nazir Nortei Alema, a 25-year-old graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and another person, whom he identified only as Rafiq, had joined the group.
He, however, cautioned the media to be circumspect in their reportage on the ISIS recruitment exercise in the country, pointing out that if not handled properly, it might create more complications for the National Security apparatus.
“I am not trying to say that if there is a problem don’t talk about it; what I’m saying is that we must not do it in such a way as to create panic,” he said.
Mr Donkor, who was addressing journalists in Accra, said there was the need for the conversation on the matter to continue but maintained that it should be mainstreamed and devoid of stereotyping.
He said there were other recruitment moves being closely monitored by the National Security, but he would not give details.
He said his outfit was aware that the ISIS had a training base in Niger where recruits were trained as foreign terrorist instructors, adding that those who had joined the ISIS went through Burkina Faso or Nigeria.
Mr Donkor said the National Security had identified suspected institutions where agents and agencies of the terrorist group targeted and recruited unsuspecting Ghanaians.
He said for now those suspected institutions were mainly tertiary institutions where students were drafted into social media forums where radical discourse took place, with a view to indoctrinating members for ease of recruitment.
The main social media platforms that were used, he said, were Facebook and Whatsapp.
Mr Donkor, therefore, urged the public to remain alert and observant of strangers or residents who started putting up behavioural changes and report such persons to their parents or religious leaders.
He said just before the recruits left, changes were noticed in their behaviour and conduct, saying some became withdrawn, started growing beards and wearing turbans, adding that “anyone of us is a potential recruit”.
Attractive offer from ISIS
Information available to the National Security, he said, was that the ISIS was very rich and provided attractive offers that potential recruits found irresistible.
He said the National Security was collaborating with security agencies around the world, adding that at this point, there was no need for Ghanaians to be alarmed.
“But if international efforts to suppress the ISIS does not work, then Ghana must be worried,” he said.
Mr Donkor also urged religious leaders to step up education and orient their members on the ISIS overtures to pre-empt any move at recruitment.
The National Security Advisor to the President, Alhaji Baba Kamara, stressed the need to separate politics from the security of the nation.
He said the ISIS issue was not about the National Democratic Congress (NDC) nor the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and urged the media to resist any temptation to situate it within the political arena.