By Ousman A. Marong
The former Deputy Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) now State Intelligence Service (SIC), Foday Momodou Hydara, has said that one of the main reasons for setting up of the NIA was to spy on politicians.
Testifying at the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday, Hydara said that among the objectives of the NIA was to give former President Yahya Jammeh an advantage over the opposition during elections. He said the purpose of setting up the NIA was defeated by some of the ‘additives built within the system’. He said that the whole objective was to serve the government and to give the president an unfair advantage in elections.
“The NIA was built, and then thieves added to it which eventually defeated the general purpose of the intelligence services. The NIA was built badly in the first place,” he said.
Hydara added that the ‘Green Youths’ were incorporated into the NIA and they would do anything to please the president.
“The ‘Green Boys’ became thugs of the ruling party. The NIA basically had several units. During the time of the NSS the units that were in existence were the counter espionage unit, political and dissidents unit, the economic sabotage unit, and the operational room responsible for multimedia communication monitoring, and the religious unit,” he listed. While he said most of the units were in existence since the first regime, but the political and dissidents unit was later established to monitor activities of registered political parties to ensure they were not doing anything outside their limits.
Hydara however said most NIA officers did not like the ‘political and dissidents’ unit because it involved a lot of writing and transcribing. “Whenever there were political activities anywhere personnel of this unit will go there to cover those meetings to see what messages they were sending. If there was anything subversive, they bring the tapes to the office and transcribe everything, then send it to the analysis unit to deduce whatever they deemed to be of interest to intelligence,” he asserted. He said the unit was more focused on spying on politicians.