Chapter 1. Country Reports: Africa
African countries expanded their efforts to develop regional counterterrorism solutions while they struggled to contain the expansion of terrorist groups, affiliates, and aspirants involved in attacks or other activities in 2017. In East Africa, the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab continued to threaten regional security. It retained safe haven, access to recruits and resources, and de facto control over large parts of Somalia through which it moves freely. Similar to 2015 and 2016, however, al-Shabaab did not claim any attacks outside of Somalia and northeastern Kenya in 2017. In October, the group was blamed but did not claim responsibility for the deadliest terrorist attack in Somalia’s history, despite having lost a number of operatives to counterterrorism operations in the months prior. Northeastern Kenya experienced a significant increase in activity attributed to al-Shabaab, primarily in the form of improvised explosive device attacks targeting Kenyan security forces and vehicles transporting civilians. Al-Shabaab maintained its allegiance to al-Qa’ida, remaining intent on limiting the influence and reach of the northern Somalia-based group of ISIS-linked fighters responsible for local suicide bombings and other attacks against Somali security forces.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces increased cooperation with the United States to exert pressure on al-Shabaab, primarily through coordinated counterterrorism operations in southern Somalia. The United States continued to support East African partners in their efforts to build counterterrorism capacity, including in the areas of aviation and border security, advisory assistance for regional security forces, training and mentoring of law enforcement to conduct investigations and manage crisis response, and advancing criminal justice sector reforms. East African partners undertook efforts to develop and expand regional cooperation mechanisms to interdict terrorist travel and other illicit activities.
In the Lake Chad region, Boko Haram and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) increased asymmetric attacks against civilians, government, and security forces, which resulted in deaths, injuries, abductions, and destruction of property. Nigeria, along with its neighbors Cameroon, Chad, and Niger – often through the Multinational Joint Task Force – worked to counter these threats. These countries also responded to the ongoing and devastating humanitarian crisis, protected civilians, and restored governance and rule of law in the affected areas. The United States continued to provide advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support, and equipment to Lake Chad region countries and supported a wide range of stabilization efforts. Continued attacks by Boko Haram and ISIS-WA have caused nearly 2.5 million displaced people in Nigeria. Approximately 8.5 million people in Nigeria alone require humanitarian assistance.
In the Sahel, terrorist groups – including affiliates and adherents of al-Qa’ida and ISIS – have expanded their operations in central Mali and the Tri-Border Region of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. In response, the African Union Peace and Security Council authorized a new G-5 Sahel Joint Force in April 2017, comprising military and police forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The Joint Force began operations in late 2017 along the shared border to interdict the flow of terrorist groups and criminal trafficking.
Established in 2005, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a U.S.-funded and -implemented, multi-faceted, multi-year effort designed to build the counterterrorism capacity and cooperation of military, law enforcement, and civilian actors across North and West Africa. TSCTP partners include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia. TSCTP has built capacity and cooperation despite setbacks caused by a restive political climate, terrorism, ethnic rebellions, and extra-constitutional actions that interrupted work and progress with select partner countries.
Regional cooperation, a strategic objective of U.S. assistance programming globally, continues to improve in West and Central Africa among most of the partners of the TSCTP. Lake Chad region governments in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria remained actively engaged in countering Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, including coordinating forces with Benin to form the Multinational Joint Task Force. In the Sahel, regional partners Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger formed the G-5 Sahel Joint Force to combat al Qa’ida and ISIS elements operating primarily in northern Mali and in the Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Tri-Border Region. The United States added four Sahel states to the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund in 2016 – Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Senegal – which provided comprehensive assistance to targeted partners. This funding is also complementary to the efforts of TSCTP and seeks to produce tangible results in a range of counterterrorism-related fields.
First established in 2009, the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) is a U.S.-funded and -implemented framework designed to build counterterrorism capacity and cooperation between military, law enforcement, and civilian actors across East Africa. PREACT serves as a coordination mechanism for the U.S government’s regional counterterrorism programming to help partners enhance criminal justice, defense, and financial sector reform. PREACT programming complements the U.S. government’s assistance by promoting collaborative training environments and mentorship initiatives that emphasize respect for human rights, the rule of law, and good governance.
Through PREACT, the United States supports joint training exercises for Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Ugandan first responders and law enforcement professionals as part of a broader effort to encourage regional coordination and cooperation, protect shared borders, and respond to terrorist incidents responsibly and effectively. Active PREACT partners include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Inactive members of PREACT are Burundi, Comoros, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, and Sudan; they did not receive PREACT assistance in 2017.
Overview: Burkina Faso experienced a slow but steady increase in terrorist activity in 2017, including numerous cross-border attacks in its northernmost region bordering Mali. The Government of Burkina Faso has made numerous arrests of terrorist suspects, augmented the size of its special terrorism detachment Groupement des Forces Anti-Terroristes (GFAT) in the country’s north, and joined the newly-created G-5 Sahel Joint Force to fight terrorism and criminal trafficking groups with regional neighbors Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
In 2017, the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front came together to form Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM). JNIM and other groups like Ansarul Islam and ISIS in the Greater Sahara are all known to operate in Burkina Faso.
The French military’s Operation Barkhane continued its integrated counterterrorism mission for the Sahel region. Cooperating with Malian forces, Barkhane sought to degrade terrorist elements in northern and central Mali, particularly JNIM.
Terrorist organizations successfully recruited marginalized, poor, and historically disadvantaged Fulani inhabitants. Burkinabe security forces have been accused of torture, extrajudicial killings, burning of property, and arbitrary detention in their response to terrorism in the north. The Government of Burkina Faso has opened an investigation into these allegations, which was ongoing at year’s end. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for further information.
The United States was in the process of implementing USAFRICOM’s US $5.6 million program to build upon a previously Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP)-funded Gendarmerie border security program in the northern region of Burkina Faso. In 2017, the United States pledged US $30 million for the Burkinabe military to equip its security components of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force and another US $30 million for the other G-5 countries for a total of US $60 million.
Additionally, TSCTP funded US $6 million in other security assistance programs to reinforce security at the airbase in Ouagadougou and equip the Gendarme Special Intervention Unit with radios, body armor, and ballistic shields. It will also make improvements to the peacekeeping training center in Loumbila.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Approximately 50 attacks that took place mainly in Burkina Faso’s northernmost region along the border with Mali were believed to be terrorist-related. Attacks have included targeted killings, kidnappings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and attacks on security outposts, police stations, and barracks. Attacks using IEDs were witnessed for the first time in 2017 and targeted Burkinabe security forces and civilians. The deadliest attack occurred on August 17, when an IED detonated under a military vehicle patrolling the Djibo area, causing three deaths and seriously injuring two. Attacks have also targeted Burkinabe government officials, schools, and markets. On November 17, in the village of Taouremba, six heavily armed individuals on motorcycles conducted a targeted attack on a municipal councilor in the town market that resulted in the death of 10 individuals.
The largest attack in Burkina Faso took place on August 13 in Ouagadougou at the Aziz Istanbul Café, a Turkish-owned restaurant frequented by expatriates. Two armed gunmen wounded 25 and killed approximately 19 people, including 10 Burkinabe and nine foreigners. Two of the foreigners were Kuwaiti – one of whom was imam of the Kuwaiti Great Mosque, Dr. Waleed Al‑Ali. Both were in Burkina Faso for a charitable mission.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2017, Burkina Faso began making changes to its legal framework. In January, lawmakers created a Special Judicial Interagency working group based on best practices across the region that will have jurisdiction over terrorism-related legal cases. However, it was not fully operational by the end of 2017.
Approximately 22 judicial investigations linked to attacks committed against civilians and security forces were ongoing at the end of 2017. Some of the cases started on the basis of citizen claims that someone was a terrorist or suspected of belonging to terrorist groups. Many cases stagnated while awaiting information from neighboring countries. Burkina Faso has not yet brought to trial any of the approximately 150 alleged terrorists detained in Burkina Faso’s High Security Prison, opened in 2014.
Burkinabe security and law enforcement officials continued to cite border security as a major area of concern. Burkina Faso’s Counterterrorism Strategy, Mission de Securitization du Nord, strives to address terrorist activities along its northern border. To accomplish this, Burkina Faso operationalized and deployed a joint Army-Gendarmerie-Police counterterrorism task force known as the Groupement des Forces Anti-Terroristes (GFAT) in January 2013. This force’s level has increased from 500 troops in 2016 to 1,600 troops in 2017 in an effort to counter the growing terrorist threat.
Burkina Faso relies on the Terrorist Interdiction Program’s Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES), and uses International Organization for Migration-provided screening equipment and software to conduct traveler screening and watchlisting.
The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program provided workshops on cross-border security, crisis management, criminal justice procedures, and prosecution of terrorists. This included an Advanced Rural Border Patrol course and Border Unit mentorship to assist Burkina Faso in securing its borders. The United States partnered with the UN Office for Drugs and Crime for a program on Burkina Faso’s legal framework to counter terrorism.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Burkina Faso is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a Financial Action Task Force-style body. Burkina Faso’s financial intelligence unit (Cellule Nationale de Traitement des Informations Financières – CENTIF) tracks terrorist financing, but had not tried any cases by year’s end. In 2017, the Minister of Territory Office of Public Freedoms and Associations took responsibility for terrorism financing from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2017, CENTIF required non-profit organizations to declare their funding sources. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Burkinabe government launched the Sahel Emergency Plan in 2017 to strengthen the role of government, enhance community law enforcement, and generate economic opportunities in its Sahel region. Burkina Faso did not have programs to rehabilitate or reintegrate terrorists into mainstream society.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s CVE programming included a regional messaging project, called Voices for Peace, which counters terrorist narratives through radio programs and social media. It also includes an effort called Partnerships for Peace to strengthen the capacity of the national government, civil society organizations, and regional organizations – G-5 Sahel and the Economic Community of West African States – to counter violent extremism and a research initiative to identify the conditions terrorists exploit for recruitment in local communities.
Regional and International Cooperation: Burkina Faso participates in the G-5 Sahel Joint Force and provides forces to improve security along shared borders to interdict the flow of terrorist groups and criminal trafficking. Burkina Faso maintains two peacekeeping battalions in Mali as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
Overview: In 2017, Cameroon experienced significant terrorist activity in the Far North Region. The Government of Cameroon attributed the violence to Boko Haram as opposed to ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA). Lake Chad region governments and media rarely make a distinction between Boko Haram and ISIS-WA and instead generally refer to both groups as Boko Haram. Boko Haram continued to regularly carry out attacks in Cameroon, primarily through the use of suicide bombers, while ISIS-WA attacked less frequently, targeting military outposts and generally refraining from killing civilians.
Countering terrorist threats remained a top security priority for the Government of Cameroon. It continued its cooperation with the international community, remained a member of the Trans‑Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, contributed significantly to operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force, and continued to work with the United States to improve the capacity of its security forces.
The Cameroonian government began formulating a reintegration plan for former Boko Haram fighters for the first time in 2017. On October 20, four ex-terrorists who claimed to have defected from Boko Haram were allowed to return to their village in Tolkomari. Although local residents expressed skepticism, the government declared it was the state’s duty to protect them and treat them with respect. Although efforts to institutionalize formal defections and reintegration policies were nascent, the government announced that a permanent location for ex‑combatants in Zamai would serve as a de-radicalization and re-socialization center.
Cameroon joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Boko Haram continued to take advantage of weaknesses in Cameroon’s border security to conduct terrorist attacks in the country’s Far North Region, including suicide bombings, targeted killings, kidnappings, and raids in search of supplies. Boko Haram perpetrated multiple and indiscriminate killings against civilians – Muslim and Christian alike – but also against government officials and military forces. Although Cameroonian forces have become more effective at combatting Boko Haram, dozens of attacks, often suicide bombings, occurred in 2017. These included an attack in February that killed three soldiers, one in April that killed four vigilance committee members (vigilance committees are groups of ordinary residents who help protect the area from Boko Haram attacks), one in July that killed 14 people and wounded 32 others, and one in August that left 15 dead and eight abducted. In the very far northern area of the country, ISIS-WA conducted a few attacks, targeting military outposts, and generally refrained from killing civilians.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant changes since the 2016 report. In 2017, the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program delivered two Explosive Incident Countermeasures trainings, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Commanders Workshop, and a mentorship program with Cameroonian EOD personnel to build Cameroon’s counter-improvised explosive device capacity.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Cameroon is a member of the Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa (GABAC), a Financial Task Force-style regional body, and its financial intelligence unit, the National Agency for Financial Investigation, is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant changes since the 2016 report. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Cameroon does not have a national CVE action plan, but officials at all levels acknowledged radicalization to violence as a significant concern and said they integrate it into their work and planning. The government partnered with faith-based organizations, such as the Council of Imams and Religious Dignitaries of Cameroon (CIDIMUC), to educate citizens on the dangers of radicalization to violence, to promote religious tolerance, and to present religion as a factor for peace. Programs furthered these objectives through targeted messaging in mosques, special prayer sessions, press releases, and through roundtable discussions and conferences bringing together people from various religious backgrounds. One of CIDIMUC’s strategies has been to improve the living conditions of imams.
In 2017, the U.S. Agency for International Development expanded the scope of a community resilience and peace-building program it launched in December 2015. Using a network of community radio stations, the program focused on strengthening the resilience of communities through radio programs focused on peace building, which were transmitted in 26 languages in the north and far north regions.
Cameroonian cities Yaounde II, Kolofata, Kousseri, Meri/Diamare, and Mokolo are members of the Strong Cities Network.
International and Regional Cooperation: There were no significant changes since the 2016 report.
Overview: The Government of Chad continued to focus on counterterrorism efforts at the highest level, however, the worsening financial crisis affected its ability to meet even basic financial commitments, such as paying police and military salaries. Although financial hardships have limited the country’s ability to provide external counterterrorism assistance, Chad engaged in external military operations in neighboring countries. Chad provided approximately 2,000 combat forces to the Lake Chad Region’s Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which also includes Benin, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, but drew down some of those troops in mid-2017 to focus on other issues such as insecurity along Chad’s northern border with Libya. Chad continued to host the French government’s Operation Barkhane, France’s integrated counterterrorism mission for the Sahel region that has partnered with forces in the Sahel to launch numerous operations to degrade terrorist groups in the region. Chad had 1,450 soldiers supporting the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali at year’s end.
Chad joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Chad updated its Penal Code in April 2017. Penalties for lesser terrorist offenses were increased to life imprisonment. Some civil society organizations expressed concern that the law was overly restrictive, required little evidence to prosecute individuals, and could be used to curtail freedoms of expression and association. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for further information.
While Chadian law enforcement units displayed basic command and control capacity, the Director General of the Chadian National Police requested training in investigations, crisis response, and border security capacity. Law enforcement leadership publicly acknowledged the requirement for all law enforcement officers to respect human rights. In practice, however, there were reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, including by torture, and impunity was an issue. The Director General of the Police has improved the Chadian National Police’s performance by fostering more efficient and effective communication across bureau lines. Its forensics unit has opened its files to the Regional Security Office for passage of photo and fingerprint records of suspected Boko Haram terrorists imprisoned in Chad.
The Chadian government operated at a heightened level of security and has instituted screenings at border-crossings to prevent infiltration by members of Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), and Central African militias, as well as transit of illegal arms, drugs, and other contraband. Border patrols were provided by a combination of border security officials, gendarmes, police, and military. Chad screened travelers using the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) at major ports of entry.
Chad participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in 2017. It received ATA training in support of its Crisis Response Team and received deliveries in support of its participation in the multilateral Flintlock 2017 exercise.
The U.S. Embassy’s Special Programs for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) team continued its training and development. This team is composed of Chadian National Police and Groupe Mobile d’Intervention Police and is expected to be on call to respond to emergencies at the embassy and affiliated facilities.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Chad is a member of the Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Chad’s financial intelligence unit, the National Agency for Financial Investigation (ANIF), is a member of the Egmont Group.
Chad criminalized terrorist financing through the 2003 adoption of an anti‑money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) law drafted by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa. The law allows immediate freezing and confiscation of terrorist assets and requires a variety of organizations involved in financial transactions to monitor money/value transfers and report any anomalies. The law does not appear to list non-profit organizations specifically within the list of organizations required to comply. The government also requires know-your-customer standards enforcement for both foreign and domestic transactions.
ANIF, which falls under the authority of the Ministry of Finance and Budget, is tasked with ensuring public and private financial institutions in Chad implement the AML/CFT law. It investigates suspicious transactions brought to its attention by financial institutions and refers cases to the Attorney General’s office in the Ministry of Justice for further action and prosecution.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Chad adopted a national strategy and action plan to “Counter Violent Extremism and Radicalization” in December 2017. Prior to the strategy and action plan, the government used its five-year development strategy as its primary tool to prevent and counter radicalization to violence.
The number of Chadians joining terrorist organizations remained low in 2017. Chadians who joined Boko Haram or ISIS-WA came primarily from the Buduma ethnic group who reside on Lake Chad islands. Separately, there was evidence that a few individuals had become radicalized to violence through propaganda accessed on social media platforms.
Efforts to encourage defections and returnees among the Buduma people around Lake Chad were informal. Moderate messaging was broadcast over 12 community radio stations and one state-operated radio station under a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project. Additionally, USAID committed to a multi-year CVE program.
International and Regional Cooperation: Chad remained active in the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. Chad is a member of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force, which also includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. As a member of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Chad participated in efforts to develop the MNJTF. Chad cooperated actively with Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria in operations to counter the threat of Boko Haram and ISIS-WA on its borders.
Overview: Djibouti offered a vital platform for regional counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts in 2017. Since 2002, Djibouti has hosted Camp Lemonnier, the headquarters of AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the only enduring U.S. military installation in Africa. Djibouti’s Armed Forces also participated in the U.S.-funded Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program and deployed soldiers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) campaign. Djibouti hosts the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which serves as a regional CVE hub and resource for CVE research, development, and training. IGAD positions Djibouti as a regional leader on counterterrorism and CVE.
In 2017, the Government of Djibouti hosted several conferences:
- A Ministry of Islamic Affairs-led conference with Muslim religious leaders from the Horn of Africa on strategies to address “extremist” messaging directed at youth;
- A Ministry of Justice-led conference with the international organization of La Francophonie and the Association of Francophone Prosecutors on counterterrorism prosecutions; and
- A Central Bank-led conference with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.
As in previous years, Djiboutian government officials, particularly law enforcement and members of the High Islamic Council, worked closely to identify and address terrorist activity.
Djibouti joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Djibouti has a legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related crimes and can try terrorists in criminal courts using its penal code. As such, there were no significant changes on terrorism-related legislation in 2017. The Djiboutian government continued to use counterterrorism legislation to suppress criticism by detaining and prosecuting opposition figures and other activists. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for further information.
In 2017, the Djiboutian government made structural and judicial counterterrorism-related changes. The Minister of Justice appointed a new State Prosecutor, who reorganized the Prosecutor’s office to allow deputy prosecutors to specialize in terrorism-related cases. Djibouti also passed a comprehensive refugee law and two implementing decrees to ensure refugees have freedom of movement, education, work, and access to public services, including those related to criminal justice, which were not de jure rights for refugees prior to their passage. Recognizing that refugees account for more than three percent of the population, the government’s decision to provide them access to the criminal justice system serves as an effective long-term response to address the risk of any vulnerable population, including this one, to recruitment, radicalization to violence, and other terrorist-related activity.
Djiboutian law enforcement entities continued to prioritize counterterrorism due to Djibouti’s geographic location and an al-Shabaab attack in Djibouti City in May 2014. Djibouti maintained a system of checkpoints and conducted cordon-and-search operations within the capital, Djibouti City, and concentrated security forces at border control points to screen for potential security threats. Government officials enhanced the protection of soft targets, including hotels and grocery stores, measures first implemented after the May 2014 attack. Djiboutian law enforcement also extended vehicle searches throughout the capital in an effort coordinated through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Djibouti’s law enforcement organizations include the Djiboutian National Police (DNP), the Djiboutian National Gendarmerie, the National Security Judiciary Police (NSJP), and the Djiboutian Coast Guard. In 2017, the DNP, National Gendarmerie, and NSJP received training from both the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and the International Law Enforcement Academy in Gaborone. ATA assistance focused on building technical capacity for improved crisis response and border security capabilities. The DNP, National Gendarmerie, and the NSJP also received training through the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Legal Attaché office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Djibouti’s law enforcement organizations routinely interacted with U.S. government counterparts and frequently sought U.S. input to identify potential terrorist suspects.
Djiboutian law enforcement personnel acknowledged the difficulty of securing their land and sea borders. The DNP controls border checkpoints and Djibouti’s armed forces are responsible for patrolling land borders in remote locations, with support from the Gendarme patrolling between border posts. Djibouti continued to process travelers on entry and departure at its international airport and seaport with the Personal Identification Secure Comparison Evaluation System (PISCES). While the airport and seaport remain important entry points, the vast majority of travelers cross into Djibouti by land at one of three land border points, one of which is the Loyada crossing at the Somali border, which was refurbished with U.S. funding.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In 2017, Djibouti applied for membership to the Middle East and Northern Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF)), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Its application is under consideration by MENAFATF members. The Central Bank of Djibouti houses a financial intelligence unit known as the Financial Information Service (SRF). Due to limited financial and human resources, the SRF has been unable to perform the core functions of a financial intelligence unit and has focused instead on banking supervision. The SRF referred no cases to law enforcement involving suspected terrorist financing in 2017.
Djibouti’s Central Bank places the responsibility for staying updated on sanctions lists with the financial institutions themselves. Many of the financial institutions operating in Djibouti have software packages that include links to UN sanctions lists, lists of designated terrorists, or terrorist entities provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the European Union. The Central Bank monitors compliance with these lists through routine supervision and audits of the financial institutions.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Law enforcement agencies worked with the High Islamic Council to identify and monitor activity that promoted terrorist ideology. Djibouti continued to host and provide oversight for the operation of the IGAD Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and has also prioritized economic growth to address the high unemployment among youth.
International and Regional Cooperation: Djibouti hosts the IGAD’s headquarters offices and Secretary General. The Djiboutian military continued its participation in AMISOM, which includes military forces from Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda.
Overview: The Government of Eritrea continued to make regular public statements about its commitment to fighting terrorism. Eritrea also continued and broadened its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, and it allowed military elements of the coalition to base in Eritrea.
In May 2017, the United States recertified Eritrea as “not cooperating fully” with U.S. antiterrorism efforts under Section 40A of the Arms Export and Control Act, as amended. In considering this annual determination, the Department of State reviewed Eritrea’s overall level of cooperation with U.S. efforts to counter terrorism, taking into account U.S. counterterrorism objectives and a realistic assessment of Eritrean capabilities.
Eritrea has been subject to UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions since December 2009 due to past evidence of support for al-Shabaab and other activities that have contributed to regional instability. UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCR) 1907 (2009) and 2011 (2013) established and consolidated a two-way arms embargo on Eritrea, most recently renewed in UNSCR 2385 (2017). The sanctions regime on Eritrea also includes provisions for a travel ban and asset freeze measures with regard to individuals or entities designated by the UN Sanctions Committee for Somalia and Eritrea. At present, there are no UN listings for the sanctions regime as it relates to Eritrea. While the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group’s (SEMG) 2017 report did not find conclusive evidence that Eritrea is supporting al-Shabaab, the Government of Eritrea continued to refuse to allow the SEMG inspectors to visit Eritrea, limiting the scope of its investigations. The SEMG did not find evidence of continued Eritrean support to armed groups intent on destabilizing Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Due to the Government of Eritrea’s lack of transparency, there was no clear picture of the methods it used to track terrorists or safeguard its citizens. For a number of years, members of the police have refused to meet with security officials from western nations to discuss policy matters, although the United States had informal contact with some law enforcement counterparts in 2017.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant changes since 2016.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Eritrea is not a member or observer of a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body or a member of the Egmont Group. Eritrea is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which has a maritime security program that focuses on building the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There were no significant changes since 2016.
International and Regional Cooperation: In December, Eritrea co-sponsored UNSCR 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.
Overview: The continuing al-Shabaab threat emanating from Somalia dominated the Government of Ethiopia’s security posture and the Ethiopian National Defense Force’s (ENDF) 2017 counterterrorism efforts. Ethiopia also focused its counterterrorism strategy on pursuing potential threats from armed opposition groups often based in neighboring countries. The Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shared information on counterterrorism matters pursuant to a memorandum of understanding. The Ethiopian government contributed to FBI cases related to al-Shabaab and other U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations by providing information, evidence, and access to witnesses.
Ethiopia joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Ethiopia uses the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) to prosecute crimes associated with terrorist activity. Ethiopia convicted 23 individuals in 2017 for planning to conduct terrorist attacks in Ethiopia after making contact with al-Shabaab and al-Qa’ida.
Ethiopia also continued to use the ATP to suppress criticism by detaining and prosecuting journalists, opposition figures – including members of religious groups protesting government interference in religious affairs – and other activists. The Ethiopian government released some, but arrested several others during the year. These arrests peaked under the State of Emergency the Ethiopian government imposed in October 2016 in the wake of anti-government protests and violence that resulted in tens of thousands of arrests and several hundred deaths. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for further information.
In late August, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law conducted a workshop in Addis Ababa for judges handling ATP cases. Ethiopian judges are often overwhelmed with hundreds of ATP-related cases because Ethiopian prosecutors often seek to bring the highest charges for cases that they cannot resolve with plea agreements. With U.S. support, the Attorney General’s Office is working on revising Ethiopia’s Criminal Procedure Code to include plea agreements.
The ENDF, the EFP, Ethiopian intelligence, and regional special police worked to detect and deter al-Shabaab attacks in Ethiopia. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which has broad authority for intelligence, border security, and criminal investigation, is responsible for overall counterterrorism management in coordination with the ENDF and EFP. The three security organizations comprise the Ethiopian Task Force for Counterterrorism, a federal-level committee to coordinate counterterrorism efforts. The NISS facilitated some coordination with the United States to include several domestic counterterrorism cases.
Border security was a persistent concern for Ethiopia, which worked to tighten border controls with Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan. Ethiopia employed the Terrorist Interdiction Program’s Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) to conduct traveler screening and watchlisting at airports and other ports of entry.
Ethiopia is East Africa’s only last point of departure to the United States, one of only a few on the African continent. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration continued to conduct semi-annual inspections of Ethiopia’s national carrier and of Bole International Airport, including one that occurred in early December. Inspectors reported implementation of all recent enhanced security measures and that cooperation with Ethiopian aviation security officials remains strong.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Ethiopia is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In October, the FATF and the European Commission listed Ethiopia as one of 11 high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes and recommended that any financial flows from the country be subject to additional counter checks and know-your-customer rules. Ethiopia is one of eight countries named on both the FATF and European Commission lists.
Following the completion of the National Risk Assessment for money laundering and terrorism finance in early 2017, Ethiopia approved and began implementing a National Risk Mitigation Action Plan.
Ethiopian law enforcement handles low-end money laundering investigations but is ill equipped to expand to larger AML/CFT investigations. Law enforcement lacks the forensic tools, human resources, and training to focus on these types of cases. In addition, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and law enforcement did not appear to coordinate their efforts fully. The FIC processes and submits suspicious transaction reports to the police for money laundering and to the NISS for terrorist financing cases. However, there appeared to be a lack of follow-up on AML/CFT investigations.
Ethiopia has made no apparent attempt to investigate and prosecute cases on suspicious or fraudulent mobile money transactions. This is especially significant since it appears that a large number of mobile money transactions occur within the Somali region of Ethiopia, an area where the Ethiopian government has concentrated much of its counterterrorism efforts. The two mobile money platforms in Ethiopia reported growth in its revenues, especially from transactions originating in rural areas, and have expressed interest in cooperating with law enforcement on investigations under certain conditions.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Ethiopia has not yet developed a CVE strategy. In 2017, the U.S. Agency for International Development provided assistance through a local Ethiopian civil society organization to undertake research on the existing potential vulnerabilities to extremism in Ethiopia. This research was conducted in communities across eight of the nine regional states as well as in Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa, cities deemed at risk of radicalization to violence and terrorist recruitment. The findings of this research were presented and validated by Ethiopian government (federal and regional state) officials and non-government interlocutors (religious leaders) in November.
The government’s continued restrictions on funding to civil society and non-governmental organizations under the Charities and Societies Proclamation limited the activity of non-governmental organizations, including CVE programming targeting at-risk youth and engaging communities and credible leaders.
International and Regional Cooperation: There have been no significant changes since the 2016 report. The ENDF continued its participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia, which includes military forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, and Uganda. Ethiopia joined the UN Security Council (UNSC) as an elected member in January 2017 and served as a vice chair of the UNSC 1373 Committee on Counterterrorism. In December, Ethiopia co-sponsored UNSC Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.
Overview: Kenya saw a significant increase in al-Shabaab terrorist attacks in the region bordering Somalia during 2017, particularly through improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ambushes. Kenya is a strong U.S. partner in counterterrorism investigation, prosecution, and incident response, and continued to play an important role in regional counterterrorism cooperation. The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) continued to participate in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and supported border security and counter-IED efforts within Kenya. Kenyan security services responded to numerous terrorist incidents, while also disrupting al-Shabaab and ISIS attack planning, recruitment, and travel. Reports of human rights violations by security forces during counterterrorism operations continued, including allegations of extra-judicial killings, disappearances, and torture. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for further information.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Al-Shabaab increased its attacks against Kenyan security forces inside the country, primarily along the border with Somalia. Terrorist incidents included:
- On January 27, al-Shabaab fighters – including Somalis and Kenyans – attacked a KDF camp at Kolbio, on the Somali border, using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), mortars, and small arms. The KDF claimed nine Kenyan service members and 70 al-Shabaab terrorists died, while media reported at least 20 KDF soldiers had been killed. Al-Shabaab employed numerous IEDs and ambushes targeting police patrols in Kenya’s northeastern counties and Lamu County.
- In four attacks from May 16 to 25, police reported approximately 30 security officials and civilians died, including five police officers in an attack on the Mandera County Governor.
- On July 8 and September 6 in attacks in Lamu County, al-Shabaab militants killed at least 13 civilians, beheading the victims.
- On July 13, al-Shabaab militants in Lamu County attacked the vehicle of, and attempted to abduct, the Principal Secretary of the national Ministry of Public Works, who later died. According to police and media, at least six police officers died in the ambush and subsequent rescue operation.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Kenya’s government used the Prevention of Terrorism Act (amended in 2014) to aggressively investigate and prosecute terrorism, but it has fallen short in implementing initiatives to improve access to justice among terrorism suspects in 2017. In August, the government launched a National Legal Aid Action Plan but has not funded a public defender service envisioned by law. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions worked to finalize national plea-bargaining rules, which awaited publication in the Kenya Gazette at year’s end. The judiciary supported a rule of law-based approach to prosecutions, applying equal legal and evidentiary standards to terrorism cases as in other criminal cases. In a January ruling, the High Court overturned five convictions for attempted terrorist travel to Somalia, as the Kenyan government had not followed legal procedures designating Somalia as a prohibited destination.
Counterterrorism functions were divided among the three branches of the National Police Service – the Kenya Police’s paramilitary General Service Unit, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (including the investigative Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, the Bomb Disposal Unit, and the Cyber Forensics Investigative Unit), and the Administration Police (including the Rural Border Patrol Unit). The National Intelligence Service and elements of the KDF. Interagency also shared responsibility. Coordination was uneven, with improved information sharing in some cases and failure to appropriately pass threat information in others. Overall, resource constraints, insufficient training, corruption, and unclear command and control hindered effectiveness. Kenya’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) expanded outreach to private security companies and key sectors on soft target attacks. Kenya’s security agencies focused on soft target threats in major cities and tourist areas, primarily universities, shopping malls, hotels, and resorts.
Terrorists exploited Kenya’s sparsely populated border regions and largely uncontrolled land borders to conduct attacks and move operatives in and out of the country. The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program trained and equipped rural Border Patrol Unit personnel in tactical ground sensor operations and border security operations. Other ATA programs included law enforcement training to respond to active shooter threats.
Kenyan officials continued efforts to draft a coordinated interagency border control strategy. In April, Kenya signed an agreement with the United States to implement the Automated Targeting System-Global to facilitate sharing of Advance Passenger Information for air travelers. Kenya worked to improve aviation safety and security at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Kenya established an interagency Joint Operations Centers at several ports of entry and border crossings to promote information sharing and maintained its traveler screening partnership with the United States using the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) at major ports of entry. Immigration officers employed government watchlists. Watchlist screening and basic equipment at smaller ports of entry was generally lacking.
The Kenyan government worked to prevent the transit of foreign terrorist fighters, including Kenyans attempting to join al-Shabaab or ISIS, and those returning from abroad. In March, police arrested three alleged ISIS travel facilitators in Malindi. In May, South Sudanese and Kenyan police cooperated in the repatriation of three Kenyans and a Somali, who were arrested in South Sudan after the Malindi group allegedly recruited them to travel to join ISIS-Libya. Kenyan security services also detected and deterred terrorist plots and responded to dozens of terrorism-related incidents. The Kenyan government or its agents continued to face allegations that they committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, particularly of known or suspected criminals, including terrorists.
Court trials in terrorism cases often proceeded slowly. At the end of 2017, trials continued in the cases of four Kenyans accused of providing support for the 2013 Westgate Mall attack and of four Kenyans and one Tanzanian in connection with the 2015 Garissa University College attack. The Tanzanian defendant was found competent to stand trial in January after previously being found unfit in late 2016. The trial on explosives charges against British terrorism suspect Jermaine Grant, who was serving a nine-year sentence from a separate conviction in 2015, was pending a verdict at year’s end.
The Kenyan government cooperated with the United States regarding threat information and security at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, including through a dedicated General Service Unit counterterrorism response team funded by U.S. assistance. Kenya’s national elections required additional resources and personnel to conduct security operations, compelling the Kenyan government to limit certain counterterrorism-related training and redeployments.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Kenya is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In July, the Kenyan government appointed the first permanent Director General of its financial intelligence unit, the Financial Reporting Center (FRC), since its establishment in 2012. The FRC remained hampered by a lack of essential resources and faced challenges meeting minimum staffing, physical security, and information technology requirements. The FRC also lacked an electronic reporting system for analyzing suspicious transactions. The use of unregulated informal financial mechanisms, including hawalas, continued. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Kenya’s government worked in 2017 to implement its 2016 National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism, primarily through county-level action plans. Kenya’s NCTC worked with county governments, security actors, and civil society to launch action plans in Kwale, Mombasa, Lamu, and Kilifi Counties. The NCTC also led Kenya’s Country Support Mechanism for the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), which began awarding grants for community initiatives to counter violent extremism. Kenya is also a GCERF beneficiary country. Police in Nairobi, coastal, and northeastern counties participated in community policing, dialogues on post-traumatic stress, and early warning and early response programs. Prison officials improved their handling of terrorist offenders. Other small-scale efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate former terrorists, facilitators, and sympathizers continued, but these lacked a clear legal framework and supportive public messaging. Kenya’s second-largest city, Mombasa, is an active member of the Strong Cities Network.
International and Regional Cooperation: Kenya continues to host the United Nations (UN) Office in Nairobi, serving as a hub for regional coordination against transnational threats. The KDF continued its participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia, which includes military forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Uganda. In December, Kenya cosponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.
Overview: The Government of Mali remained a willing U.S. counterterrorism partner in 2017, despite serious challenges. Widespread terrorist activity continued in Mali’s largely ungoverned northern regions and in the country’s center and Tri-Border Region with Burkina Faso and Niger. Slow implementation of the June 2015 peace accord between the Malian government and two coalitions of armed groups hampered the return of public services and security to the north and parts of the center. Mali continued to rely heavily on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and French forces to help stabilize and secure the northern regions. Terrorist groups increased their attacks on all accord signatories, including former rebel groups with whom they had briefly allied. Terrorist activities also increased in number and severity in the central and southern regions.
The French military’s Operation Barkhane continued its integrated counterterrorism mission for the Sahel region. Cooperating with Malian forces, Operation Barkhane sought to degrade terrorist elements in northern and central Mali, particularly Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), the umbrella group that formed after the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front merged to form the group.
MINUSMA maintained its northern presence in 2017, particularly in the Gao, Kidal, and Timbuktu regions. It continued its work with the Malian government and various militia groups to facilitate the redeployment of government administrators and security forces to the north as part of implementing the 2016 Peace Accord.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: AQIM and JNIM continued to conduct terrorist attacks, primarily targeting Malian and international military forces. The terrorist groups launched attacks against civilians, security forces, peacekeepers, and others they reportedly perceived as not adhering to their interpretation of Islam. Attacks by terrorist groups expanded beyond the traditional conflict zone in the north to Mali’s center and south. Malian Security Forces continued to suffer the largest number of casualties resulting from terrorist attacks. An estimated 138 Malian soldiers were killed in numerous incidents. Terrorist incidents included:
- On June 18, an attack at Le Campement Kangaba resort northeast of Bamako left nine dead including four guests, a Malian Counterterrorist Force member, and four terrorists. Three people were wounded. JNIM claimed responsibility.
- On October 31, an attack between Dia and Diafarabé, against a convoy of Member of Parliament and President of the High Court of Justice Abdramane Niang, caused at least six deaths, including five Malian soldiers and one civilian. JNIM claimed responsibility.
- On November 24, an attack against a MINUSMA convoy in Indelimane, Menaka region killed three Nigerien United Nations (UN) peacekeepers and wounded many others. JNIM claimed responsibility.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In June, the Malian Gendarmerie Crisis Response Team, trained by the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, responded to the Campement Kangaba terrorist attack and aided Malian forces in killing four assailants. At least 50 people were at the hotel at the time, and the fact that more patrons were not killed is evidence of the improvement of Malian first responders at the tactical level since the November 2015 Radisson Blu Hotel attack, which killed 20 people. In 2017, ATA provided additional advanced training and mentoring to the Malian Gendarmerie Crisis Response Team.
The Malian Armed Forces under the Ministry of Defense (MOD) remained the primary entities responsible for securing Mali against terrorist threats. The General Directorate of State Security under the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection (MOS) had the authority to investigate and detain persons for terrorism offenses. Combined counterterrorism missions involving law enforcement and military units lacked delineation and coordination.
Although Mali has basic border security, law enforcement units lacked the capacity, training, and necessary equipment to secure Mali’s porous borders, which extend approximately 4,500 miles and touch seven countries. The United States worked with Malian security forces at Bamako’s Senou International Airport to expand the U.S.-funded Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System program (PISCES). The gendarmerie, which reports to both the MOD and the MOS – and the national border police, which reports to the MOS – both provide paramilitary support to prevent and deter criminal activity at borders. Customs officials under the Ministry of Economy and Finance monitor the flow of goods and enforce customs laws at borders and ports of entry. Mali receives INTERPOL notices, but the INTERPOL database is unavailable at some of Mali’s points of entry. The UN International Organization for Migration is managing a project with the Malian Border Patrol to provide portable biometrics systems for scanning at primary border crossing areas to counter trafficking of persons, but this system lacks connection to a central database. The information is not centralized or searchable and is largely inaccessible and unusable. Exit and entry stamps used by border officials have inconsistent size and shape, which undermines efforts to authenticate travel documents.
Malian passports, including diplomatic and official versions, incorporate security measures including ultraviolet features and a full-color digital photo. Unfortunately, imposters can obtain fraudulent documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, with relative ease.
In 2017, the government opened 69 terrorism-related cases and detained 30 people for terrorism-related crimes. Resource constraints, a lack of training in investigative techniques, and inexperience with trying terrorism cases plagued a weak judicial system. The Malian government has never investigated, prosecuted, and sentenced any terrorists from start to finish. Mali has taken steps to improve its institutional capacity to fight terrorism, passing laws that create new terrorism-related offenses and allow for the use of special investigative techniques. This includes setting up a Special Judicial Interagency Work Group against terrorism and its equivalent for law enforcement – the specialized judicial brigade – and working with international partners to build the capacity of these units, including the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.
Mali worked cooperatively with the United States to prevent acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens. The Malian judicial system continued its cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies in the investigation into the November 2015 Radisson Blu Hotel attack, which killed one U.S. citizen.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mali is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Mali’s financial intelligence unit, the Cellule Nationale de Traitement des Informations Financières (CENTIF-Mali), is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant changes since 2016. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In June, the Government of Mali adopted a national strategy for the prevention of radicalization to violence and terrorism. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for developing and monitoring the national strategy and for working with the High Islamic Council and other religious associations to promote moderate Islam and maintain a secular state. Considerations to counter violent extremism were integrated into Mali’s "Program for Accelerated Development in the Northern Regions," as was a draft decentralization policy.
Mali is a Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund beneficiary country.
The government launched the Integrated Central Region Security Plan in August, which aims first to secure and then re-establish government services across the Mopti region and the neighboring Segou region, which also experienced increasing insecurity.
International and Regional Cooperation: Mali remained active in regional organizations and international bodies, including the Economic Community of West African States, the UN, the African Union, and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. Mali also participated in Global Counterterrorism Forum events.
The Malian military participated in multinational border security operations under the G-5 Sahel mandate. Following a December U.S.-led Joint Combined Exchange Training event, Malian units deployed to the center sector of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force.
Overview: Mauritania was an excellent U.S. security and regional counterterrorism partner in 2017. Since 2011, when U.S. engagement with Mauritanian security forces greatly increased and Mauritanian forces defeated al-Qa’ida elements in three separate battles, Mauritania has not suffered a terrorist attack, despite continuing terrorist violence in neighboring Mali.
The Government of Mauritania continued to oppose terrorism effectively, building on an approach that hinges on community outreach, improving the capacity of security forces, and securing the country’s borders. The government has continued its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and seized opportunities to participate in U.S.-sponsored training on counterterrorism tactics and techniques.
Mauritania Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Services worked with the United States to track, monitor, and counter terrorist groups, which include al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), ISIS, and Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) – the group that formed after the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front came together in 2017.
Through the support of the United States and other partners such as France, Mauritania deployed 20,000 soldiers, divided between seven military regions around the country. Despite these efforts, regions in the interior of Mauritania remained imperfectly monitored, owing to their geographic isolation from population centers and inhospitable desert conditions. AQIM elements and like-minded terrorist groups were present in the region, particularly along the southeastern border with Mali, which remained the leading terrorist threat to Mauritania in 2017.
On November 6, Mauritanian press reported that AQIM released a new video in which it warned Mauritania of consequences for its cooperation with the so-called “crusaders’ forces.”
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Border security remained inadequate due to a standing policy that accords responsibility for different sections of the country’s land borders to different formations of the security forces. Owing to their geographic isolation from population centers, hard-to-access areas of the Sahara Desert further complicated efforts to monitor and secure borders.
On November 12, Mauritania declared its border with Algeria a military “Red Zone,” forbidden to civilians. This decision was motivated by the increased and diverse trafficking of prohibited goods through this region.
In collaboration with Mauritanian authorities, the Senegalese security forces arrested two suspected Algerian terrorists from ISIS on October 6 at the Mauritanian border crossing of Rosso. The two suspects were wanted by the Government of Algeria.
The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, in cooperation with host nation partner forces, provided training for 160 police officers and gendarmerie in topics including facilities protection, border security, interviewing terrorist suspects, crisis incident management, weapons of mass destruction, and border security and interdiction.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mauritania is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2017, Mauritania applied for membership within the Egmont Group. There were no other significant changes since 2016. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Mauritanian government continued to support CVE programs and offer alternatives to at-risk individuals. During 2017, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Traditional Education (MIATE) hosted a two-day regional workshop in Nouakchott to share the Mauritanian CVE experiences with representatives from the Maghreb countries and the G-5 Sahel countries. The workshop was organized in cooperation with the American Friendship Project.
The MIATE collaborated with independent Islamic religious groups to counter radicalization to violence in a series of workshops in all 15 provinces. The MIATE organized an international conference on “Violence and Extremism from Sharia’s Perspective,” held on March 19, 2017.
In coordination with two University of Nouakchott professors, a think tank, and some society leaders, the U.S. Embassy organized a two-day awareness training workshop for university students on violent extremism, how to recognize possible recruitment activities, and strategies to counter them.
The southern Mauritanian city of Kiffa is a member of the Strong Cities Network.
Mauritanian political and religious personalities periodically condemned ISIS’s aims, methods, and activities in public statements.
International and Regional Cooperation: Nouakchott serves as host to the headquarters of the G-5 Sahel, which includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Mauritania will be responsible for the western sector of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force located along the border between Mauritania and Mali.
Under the auspices of the G-5 Sahel, Mauritania, the European Union, and the German Agency of International Cooperation, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime organized a meeting of experts on mechanisms and standards for information exchange within the Security Cooperation Platform of the G-5 Sahel in Nouakchott on October 24-25, 2017.
Overview: Terrorist groups active in Niger included the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), and Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), the group that formed after the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front came together in 2017.
Terrorists freely crossed many of Niger’s borders. In the southeast, Boko Haram and ISIS-WA profited from porous borders with Chad and Nigeria to attack civilian and security targets in Niger’s Diffa region. Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and ISIS affiliates transited the Mali and Burkina Faso borders in the west to attack security targets in the Tillabery region and crossed the Libyan and, to a lesser extent, the Algerian borders in the Agadez region in the north. Terrorists, weapons, and contraband transited freely through the vast northern part of Niger.
Niger remained a strong opponent of terrorism in the region, continued to cooperate with international partners, and received substantial international counterterrorism assistance. From 2012 to the end of 2017, the Departments of Defense and State executed approximately US $240 million in security assistance, counterterrorism, and countering violent extremism (CVE) programming. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is programming an additional US $30.9 million, including US $16 million for USAID/Office of Transition Initiatives for CVE programs. Foreign assistance has helped the Nigerien military increase its capability to patrol, collect information, and interdict terrorists.
Niger is standing up the Central Sector Command Post in Niamey for the G-5 Sahel Joint Force. Niger conducted joint patrols with Chad and Nigeria as part of its increased cooperation with Lake Chad Basin Commission member countries in the fight against Boko Haram and ISIS‑WA. Niger has increased its number of border control facilities and is working with the international community to construct and equip these facilities.
Niger joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Numerous terrorist attacks occurred in the Diffa and Tillabery regions, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries. Terrorist organizations frequently stole military vehicles and equipment that they then used in later attacks. Terrorist attacks in western Niger focused almost exclusively on security forces, while Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacked both civilian and military targets in the southeast. Attacks included:
- On June 28, two suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers attacked a refugee camp in Kabelewa, Diffa, killing three refugees and wounding 11 others. This was the first suicide attack in Diffa in more than one year.
- On July 2, Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 39 women and killed nine civilians in N’Galewa village in Diffa region.
- On October 4, suspected ISIS-GS terrorists attacked U.S. and Nigerien Special Operations Forces in Tongo Tongo, Tillabery, killing four U.S. soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers and wounding two U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien soldiers.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Niger’s laws criminalize acts of terrorism consistent with international instruments. Nigerien law enforcement and security services were actively engaged in detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism on Nigerien territory, but they suffered from insufficient manpower, funding, and equipment. Counterterrorism investigations in Niger are primarily the responsibility of the Central Service for the Fight against Terrorism (SCLCT), an interagency body comprising representatives from Niger’s National Police, National Guard, and Gendarmerie. Information sharing occurred among the law enforcement agencies of SCLCT.
Niger’s long borders and vast areas of harsh terrain made effective border security a challenge. Through the U.S. Global Security Contingency Fund, a joint interagency program between the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, and State, Niger developed a Draft National Border Security Strategy and corresponding Implementation Plan. Niger continued to use rudimentary terrorism watchlists that it shared with the security services and at border checkpoints. The Government of Niger continued to screen travelers using the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). Niger is one of six African countries participating in the Security Governance Initiative to strengthen coordination among Niger’s military and law enforcement services.
In 2017, the SCLCT arrested 250 terrorist suspects on charges that included planning acts of terrorism, association with a terrorist organization, recruitment, and terrorist financing. Courts tried or dismissed approximately 550 terrorism cases. Approximately 1,100 terrorism suspects remained in detention awaiting trial at year’s end. While the law prohibits torture and degrading treatment, there were indications that security officials were sometimes involved in abusing or harming detainees suspected of terrorist activity.
The United States provided counterterrorism assistance to Nigerien law enforcement – including through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and a Resident Legal Advisor from the Department of Justice. ATA training included improvised explosive device awareness and command and control in support of Niger’s participation in the multilateral Flintlock exercise.
As part of a broader counterterrorism strategy, the United States is working with the Government of Niger to improve its capacity to employ forensic investigative tools. From April to May, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Defense collected the biometric information of more than 1,300 terrorism detainees and digitized more than 600 terrorism-linked paper fingerprint records. Niger is the only country in the region where terrorist suspects are identified systematically in a biometric enrollment initiative.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Niger is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. There were no significant changes since 2016. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Niger, through the High Authority for the Consolidation of Peace and the Ministry of Interior, increased its focus on CVE programs, although international partners and non-governmental organizations drove most of Niger’s programming. In May, the University of Diffa hosted an international Symposium on De-radicalization and Reintegration. The Ministry of Interior organized a high-level national conference, “Violent Extremism and Youth in Niger.”
In late December 2016, the Minister of Interior announced an amnesty policy for Boko Haram and ISIS-WA fighters who wished to defect. In 2017, 172 former fighters and affiliated non‑combatants officially defected, with 167 housed in a government-run camp in the Diffa region. The Government of Niger had not put forth a formal reintegration plan for former combatants by the end of 2017.
International and Regional Cooperation: In early 2017, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali signed an accord creating the Liptako-Gourma authority to direct security operations in the Tri-Border Region where ISIS-GS and AQ are active. In mid-2017, the Liptako-Gourma authority was folded into the G-5 Sahel Joint Force, a military effort fielded by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, to address security threats in the region. Niger was standing up the Central Sector Command, based in Niamey.
On a rotational basis, Niger deploys an infantry battalion to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
Niger conducted joint patrols with Chad and Nigeria and increased its cooperation with Lake Chad Basin Commission member countries to fight Boko Haram and ISIS-WA. Nigerien officials hosted and attended multiple international meetings on countering the two groups. Niger is a member of and contributes troops to the Multinational Joint Task Force along with Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria.
Niger is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. Nigerien officials continued to participate actively in regional programs organized by the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Sahel Region Capacity-Building and Criminal Justice/Rule of Law working groups. Niger participates in a judicial cooperation organization, the Sahel Judicial Platform, with other countries in the region.
Overview: Boko Haram and its offshoot, ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), carried out killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in thousands of deaths, injuries, and significant destruction of property.
Nigeria continued to work with other terrorism-affected neighbors in the Multinational Joint Task Force, including Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger to counter-Boko Haram and ISIS-WA, regain control over territory previously held by these groups, and launch efforts to rebuild civilian structures and institutions in cleared areas.
Terrorist activity accounted for the internal displacement of nearly two million persons in the states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, and the external displacement of more than 200,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries, principally Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The Nigerian government negotiated with Boko Haram for the May 6 release of 82 of the 276 female students abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok in 2014. According to the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, 113 students remained missing at the end of 2017.
Nigeria is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
An interdisciplinary assistance team composed of personnel from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development continued to coordinate efforts with the Nigerian military at the Defense Intelligence Agency, with daily military-to-military engagement at the Joint Combined Fusion Cell and the Joint Coordination Planning Committee.
In its response to Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacks, and at times in response to crime and insecurity in general, Nigerian security service personnel perpetrated extrajudicial killings and engaged in torture, sexual exploitation and abuse, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, use of children by some security elements, looting, and destruction of property. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for further information
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Boko Haram and ISIS-WA carried out hundreds of attacks in Nigeria using suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne IEDs, raids, ambushes, and kidnappings. The following list details only a fraction of the incidents that occurred:
- On June 7, suspected Boko Haram militants launched an attack on Maiduguri, Borno State, and engaged Nigerian forces in a gunfight. In coordination, three suicide bombers detonated explosives on civilian targets in the Muna Garage neighborhood of Maiduguri. The attack killed at least 17 civilians and injured 34 others.
- On July 25, an ISIS-WA attack on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) surveying project resulted in the deaths of at least 69 people. Victims included 19 soldiers, 33 civilian militia, and 17 NNPC and University of Maiduguri staff. Three university faculty were also abducted.
- On November 21, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated explosives at a mosque in the town of Mubi, in Adamawa State, killing at least 50 people.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Nigeria’s 2011 counterterrorism law was amended in 2013 and was strengthened by the 2014 National Security Strategy and the 2016 National Counter Terrorism Strategy.
The Nigerian Office of the National Security Advisor is responsible on paper for coordinating all security and enforcement agencies. The Nigerian military has primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the Northeast. Several government agencies also perform counterterrorism functions, including the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and the Ministry of Justice. The NPF has a Counterterrorism Unit and a Terrorist Investigation Branch. Both units are responsible for investigating acts of terrorism and conducting proactive measures to prevent terrorist attacks. Interagency cooperation and information sharing was limited. Due to their knowledge of the local context, community-based security groups, often collectively referred to as the Civilian Joint Task Force, provided critical and necessary responses to the terrorism threat in the Northeast.
In October, the Government of Nigeria began closed-door hearings in front of civilian judges for more than 1,600 suspected supporters of Boko Haram and ISIS-WA. According to a government statement, 600 suspects were arraigned in the initial proceedings. Of these, 45 pled guilty to various charges and were sentenced to between three and 31 years in prison, 468 persons were ordered to undergo a de-radicalization and rehabilitation program before being released, 34 cases were dismissed, and 28 cases were remanded for trial in civilian courts elsewhere in the country. Some human rights groups alleged terrorist suspects detained by the military were denied their rights to legal representation, due process, and to be heard by a judicial authority.
On December 8, the government said it adopted a new strategy for the screening of suspected Boko Haram members and other terrorists. This involved developing a national terrorism database and providing training in investigative interviewing techniques and evidence collection.
Border security responsibilities are shared between NPF, NSCDC, Customs, Immigration, and the military. Coordination among agencies was limited.
The Nigerian government continued to participate in U.S. capacity-building programs, worked with the FBI to investigate specific terrorism matters, and provided IED components to the FBI for analysis at the Terrorist Device Analysis Center. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and NPF also received crime scene training relevant to counterterrorism investigations.
In 2017, the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program continued to mentor Nigeria’s explosive ordnance disposal personnel. ATA also delivered a Crisis Intervention Seminar, Senior Leadership Seminar, and an IED awareness seminar in support of Nigeria’s participation in the Flintlock multilateral exercise.
The Nigerian government actively cooperated with the United States and other international partners to assist with counterterrorism investigations. On April 12, Nigeria’s state security agency said it had thwarted plans by terrorists they believed affiliated with Boko Haram to attack the British and U.S. embassies.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nigeria is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. On July 5, the Egmont Group suspended Nigeria for its failure to restructure its financial intelligence unit to make it operationally autonomous and isolated from possible political control, a requirement the Egmont Group places on all of its members. To rectify this deficiency, the Nigerian Senate, in November, passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill. At the end of 2017, this legislation was awaiting passage by the Nigerian House. Additionally, the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill of 2017, amending and strengthening the 2011 Money Laundering Act, was under active review in the Nigerian Senate and House. Other active, but not yet passed, legislation with a nexus to terrorist financing includes the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and the Proceeds of Crime Bill. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In August, Nigeria, with direct support from the British Department for International Development, adopted a Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. The framework was in accordance with relevant UN policy and developed in coordination with various ministries and civil society organizations. In December, under this framework, the government launched an Action Plan for Demobilization, Disassociation, Reintegration, and Reconciliation in Nigeria. Nigeria is a Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund beneficiary country. Kaduna state and Kano state are members of the Strong Cities Network.
International and Regional Cooperation: Nigeria continued its high-level participation in regional security and counterterrorism conferences. This included President Buhari’s participation in the Aqaba Conference on countering terrorism and radicalization in West Africa (sponsored by Jordan in December) and the AU-EU Summit held in Cote d’Ivoire in November. Nigeria is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and part of the Security Governance Initiative between the United States and six African partners.
Overview: Senegal experienced no terrorist attacks in 2017, however, security forces arrested three individuals suspected of having ties to ISIS. In light of its deep concerns about terrorist activity in the region, the Government of Senegal worked closely with U.S. military and law enforcement officials to strengthen its counterterrorism capabilities.
The risk of terrorist activity in Senegal arises from external and internal factors. Externally, transnational threats arose due to the Senegalese military presence in several theaters of operation in the region and the activities of terrorist groups in neighboring countries. Internally, the promotion of fundamentalist ideologies by a small number of religious leaders constituted the chief concern, however, these ideologies are outside the Islamic norms that predominate in Senegal.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Senegal enacted no important changes to its counterterrorism laws in 2017. However, Senegal did make fully operational its specialized Inter-Ministerial Framework for Intervention and Coordination of Counterterrorism Operations (CICO) during the year. The CICO, which is intended to fully coordinate the government’s response to terrorism, was initially formed in 2016.
Senegal’s gendarmerie and national police have specialized units to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism. Effective interagency cooperation and information sharing challenged the various governmental bodies that have counterterrorism functions in Senegal, but the advent of the CICO is leading to steady improvement in these areas. Senegal works to develop specific plans and capabilities to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks against soft targets and held a major exercise in 2017 in Dakar to test the ability of security forces to respond effectively.
Senegalese officials identified a continued lack of border resources and regional cooperation as security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities were exacerbated by the absence of systems to ensure travel document security, the effective use of terrorist screening watch lists, and the collection of biographic and biometric screening capabilities beyond those deployed at major ports of entry. The southern and eastern portions of the country have far fewer resources to detect and deter terrorists who might travel through those areas.
Senegal is working to improve its law enforcement capacity by participating in multilateral efforts, such as the Border Security Initiative of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), programs of the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Additionally, Senegal has been working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to promote cooperation and coordination between border agencies, including creating three new joint points of entry, funded by the European Union (EU) and the Government of Japan, on the border with Mauritania. With U.S. funding, the IOM implemented a complementary program to enhance institutional capacities in securing and managing national borders. This included developing and emphasizing stronger community engagement and more coherent approaches to border management; interagency cooperation and coordination; cross-border interoperability; and trust between border communities and security officials that contributes to establishing open, but well-controlled and secure borders that guarantee the full respect of human rights of persons on the move. Senegal also participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which provided courses and consultations directly focused on soft target identification and protection.
Significant law enforcement actions in 2017 included the February arrest of two Malian nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism and the September arrest of two Algerian nationals on similar charges. The trial of Imam Alioune Badara Ndao and 31 other individuals charged in 2015 with criminal conspiracy in connection with terrorist groups, money laundering for terrorist activities, and terrorist financing, continued through the end of 2017. Imam Ndao has been associated with the Diokhane terrorist network and its links to Boko Haram and ISIS.
In November, when reporting indicated a possible terrorist plot to attack certain soft targets, the Senegalese government responded professionally and appropriately by increasing its security posture in Dakar.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Senegal is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Its financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Intelligence Processing Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group. While Senegal criminalizes the offense of terrorist financing, it does not criminalize the provision of funds to terrorist organizations or to individual terrorists in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act. Senegal also lacks specific measures to criminalize the provision of support to foreign terrorist fighters. Additionally, while Senegal has a framework in place to carry out its obligations under the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime, the procedures for accessing and freezing assets of listed individuals is not clarified in existing regulations. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There have been no significant changes since 2016. The Senegalese government did not have a national CVE strategy or plan of action, although Senegalese civil society groups were active in this field. The government was reportedly working on a strategy document built around the pillars of prevention, protection, intervention, and resilience, but it had not been completed at the end of 2017 and the draft had not been made public.
International and Regional Cooperation: Senegal is a member of the United Nations, the AU, ECOWAS, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. In December, Senegal ended a two-year term as an elected member of the UNSC. Senegal co‑sponsored UNSC resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.
Although not a member of the GCTF, Senegal participated in the GCTF’s Sahel Region Capacity Building working group. The French and the EU provided financial support and training to reinforce Senegal’s counterterrorism and border security capabilities. In November, the Government of Senegal hosted the Fourth Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, which included a strong focus on terrorism.
Overview: Through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Somali National Army (SNA), and U.S. and partner military actions, al-Shabaab experienced significant military pressure during 2017, but the group still maintained control over large portions of the country. Al-Shabaab retained the ability to carry out high-profile attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), suicide bombings, mortars, and small arms. Al-Shabaab was believed responsible for an October bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people and wounded several hundred more. An ISIS-linked group in Puntland was unable to expand its territory beyond a handful of camps in the mountains.
Despite several law enforcement actions in Mogadishu and other major cities to disrupt plots, many leading to prosecutions and convictions, Somalia remained a terrorist safe haven. Terrorists used their relative freedom of movement to obtain resources, recruit fighters, and plan and mount operations within Somalia and in neighboring countries, mainly in Kenya. Following the February presidential election, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in May launched a Comprehensive Approach to Security (CAS) in partnership with the international community. The CAS includes military, law enforcement, and countering violent extremism-specific “strands” to address Somalia’s security challenges at the federal, state (Federal Member State or FMS), and local levels.
The FGS increased efforts to encourage defections from terrorist groups as part of its broader counterterrorism strategy and made progress in promoting high-level reconciliation with disengaged terrorists, namely former al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow.
Somalia is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Al-Shabaab used a range of asymmetric tactics in its targeted campaign against AMISOM and Somali security forces, members of parliament, and other government personnel, as well as soft targets with less security measures, such as hotels, restaurants, and cafes. The group launched multiple, often coordinated attacks, on a weekly or monthly basis throughout the country, using suicide bombers, VBIEDs, ambush-style raids, targeted killings, and mortar attacks. Al-Shabaab also continued to use its tactic of amassing fighters to overrun AMISOM or SNA bases, allowing the group to capture weapons, ammunition, uniforms, and other equipment to replenish its supplies. The ISIS affiliate in Puntland also carried out a number of suicide bombings, targeted killings, and small arms attacks in Bosasso and smaller towns, including one in May that killed at least five security officers.
Other notable incidents included:
- On January 2, al-Shabaab employed two VBIEDs to attack a perimeter checkpoint at Mogadishu International Airport, which additionally houses the United Nations and AMISOM headquarters as well as numerous diplomatic missions. Police reported and U.S. mission personnel confirmed at least seven security personnel and civilians dead, with approximately 17 injured.
- On June 7, al-Shabaab fighters using VBIEDs, small arms, and mortars attacked and overran an SNA base in Puntland. Security forces reported approximately 70 soldiers and civilians killed.
- On October 14, a VBIED exploded at a major traffic crossing in Mogadishu, killing more than 500 people and injuring approximately 300 more, according to an FGS investigative committee. Al-Shabaab did not claim responsibility but is believed responsible.
- On October 28-29, al-Shabaab fighters attacked a Mogadishu hotel with a VBIED and small arms, followed by a lengthy standoff with police. At least 29 police and civilians were killed, according to police.
- On December 14, an al-Shabaab suicide bomber attacked the Somali Police Force Academy. Police reported at least 18 officers were killed and 15 injured.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There are no significant updates to the 2016 report, with the exception of border management. Somalia’s porous borders contributed to regional insecurity as al-Shabaab and others continued to move throughout the region mostly undetected. Most countries do not recognize Somali identity documents, leaving Somalia with few options for travel document verification and regional partners unable to properly vet Somali travelers. Somalia has a national immigration screening watchlist and uses Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) screening equipment and software provided by the International Organization for Migration at 15 ports of entry. MIDAS provides biographic and biometric screening capabilities but procedural and network connectivity deficiencies limited its effectiveness. There was little law enforcement cooperation between the FGS and FMS governments, which hampered U.S. law enforcement’s ability to investigate suspected terrorists, kidnappings, and other terrorism incidents.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Somalia is an observer to the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. There have been no significant changes since the 2016 report. The Government of Somalia continued to work towards strengthening anti-money laundering and countering the finance of terrorism bodies, including the Financial Reporting Center, the country’s financial intelligence unit. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Within the CAS process, the Somali government re‑launched Somalia’s 2016 National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism in September, and federal ministries and FMS counterparts agreed on a revised National Strategy to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism in November. With support from the European Union, three FMS governments developed regional action CVE plans, and three others were underway at year’s end. The FGS supported CVE research, including a study published in December based on interviews with 70 former al-Shabaab members. The FGS also funded counter-messaging efforts and supported religious and secular curriculum development.
Following the February presidential election, the FGS announced its intent to offer amnesty to any al-Shabaab members willing to denounce terrorism and support the FGS. At the London Conference in May, the FGS stated its intent to develop new amnesty legislation as part of the CAS, and subsequently continued messaging encouraging al-Shabaab members to defect. A donor-supported effort to reintegrate former al-Shabaab combatants continued to expand, primarily through reintegration centers that have been operating in Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, and Beletweyne for more than three years. Although exact estimates were difficult to verify given limited government oversight of these programs, officials have attributed higher defection rates to ongoing counterterrorism pressure from U.S. airstrikes as well as funding shortfalls that often strain al-Shabaab payments to low-level fighters. In August, former senior al-Shabaab commander and co-founder Muktar Robow publicly denounced al-Shabaab and pledged his support to FGS reconciliation efforts. The FGS welcomed Robow’s announcement and reiterated its call for al-Shabaab members to leave the group.
International and Regional Cooperation: There are no significant updates to the 2016 report. The Somali National Army partners with AMISOM, which includes military forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
Overview: Following the September 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya, the South African Police Service (SAPS) began improving its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States to increase its preparedness for similar terrorist attacks in South Africa. The Crimes Against the State (CATS) unit within the SAPS Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division (SAPS CI), along with other South African agencies, productively collaborated with U.S. law enforcement and exchanged best practices to enhance risk management efforts and better identify challenges at its borders. Since publicly acknowledging the presence of ISIS facilitation networks and cells in 2016, the South African government has not publicly provided estimates of the number of South African nationals who have immigrated or returned from ISIS-controlled territories. South Africa is a major international transit hub that has proven an appealing location for terrorists and other criminal networks to facilitate illicit travel abroad.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: South Africa’s law enforcement and judiciary used existing legislation to respond to an increased level of terrorism activity. The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA) criminalizes acts of terrorism, as well as the financing of terrorism, and sets out specific obligations related to international cooperation. The Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act of 1998 applies to nationals who attempt to or who have joined ISIS. The CATS, DPCI, and South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) are tasked with detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism within South Africa. The SAPS Special Task Force is specifically trained and proficient in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and hostage rescue. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is committed to prosecuting cases of terrorism and international crime. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) protects South African borders from illegal smuggling of goods.
Border security is challenging in South Africa due to its numerous land, sea, and air ports of entry for international travelers. South Africa has multiple law enforcement agencies policing its borders, but they are often stovepiped and inadequate communication limits their border control ability. Counterterrorism measures at the international airports include screening with advanced technology x-ray machines, but land borders do not have advanced technology and infrastructure. Trafficking networks made use of these land borders for many forms of illicit smuggling. Citizens of neighboring countries are not required to obtain visas for brief visits. Regulation of visa, passport, and identity documents remained a challenge within South Africa. The SAPS internal affairs office investigated allegations of corruption within the Department of Home Affairs concerning the sale of passports and identity documents, but the use of illegitimately obtained identity documents continued.
In January, twin brothers Brandon Lee Thulsie and Tony Lee Thulsie, both arrested in 2016 for planning to attack the U.S. embassy and Jewish institutions in South Africa, appeared in court to face charges on three counts of contravening the POCDATARA. As of December, the cases against the Thulsie twins and siblings Ebrahim and Fatima Patel, both charged for having links to ISIS, were ongoing. The Thulsie case is an important test of the POCDATARA and interagency cooperation.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: South Africa is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a FATF-style regional body. South Africa’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), is a member of the Egmont Group. Since FATF published its mutual evaluation report on South Africa in 2008, the country’s legal and institutional frameworks for terrorist financing issues have improved, including bank supervision capacity and criminalization of money laundering and terrorist financing activities. In June 2017, President Zuma signed the FIC Act Amendment Bill. The Minister of Finance subsequently amended the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Control Regulations and withdrew exemptions made under the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001 (FICA), effective October 2, 2017. The amendments addressed “threats to the stability of South Africa’s financial system posed by money laundering and terrorist financing.” Among the amendments, the bill assigns responsibility to the FIC to freeze the assets of persons on UN sanctions lists. The implementation of FICA regulations led FATF to determine South Africa had made enough progress on customer due diligence standards and will no longer be identified by FATF as requiring follow-up. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There have been no significant changes since 2016.
International and Regional Cooperation: South Africa is a member of the African Union, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and the Southern African Development Corporation.
Overview: The Government of Tanzania cooperates with the United States and regional partners on select security and counterterrorism initiatives. In 2017, Tanzania experienced a series of suspected terrorist attacks in the coastal region of Pwani, primarily on police and low‑level ruling party officials. Tanzanian security services led the counterterrorism response, mainly through an increased presence in affected areas and a broad exercise of police power. The police’s heavy-handed approach in Pwani may have helped deter further attacks in the region in 2017, however, the Tanzanian government failed to adopt a whole-of-government approach to address the underlying dynamics of such attacks. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for further information.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Between April and July, masked gunmen killed more than 30 police and local political officials in the Pwani region in a series of small-scale attacks, largely at night. The perpetrators, who did not claim allegiance to a terrorist group, used weapons and ammunition captured from the police in subsequent attacks and left intimidating notes at the scene warning against cooperation with the authorities. The attacks continued on an almost weekly basis into July despite intense government countermeasures. No subsequent attacks were reported, but the Special Police Zone staffed by the Field Force Unit and other security officers, remained in place at the end of 2017. In August, the Inspector General of Police declared the situation in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam resolved following the killing of more than a dozen suspected perpetrators, including the alleged leader of the attacks. Police arrested and detained hundreds of suspects alleged to have been involved in the attacks under the auspices of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. At year’s end, most had not been formally charged and many were held in remand.
Official government statements and the media frequently refer to suspects involved in violent crimes as “bandits,” making it unclear whether additional incidents are the result of terrorism.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Tanzania’s counterterrorism legal framework is governed by the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002. There were no significant changes to the legislation in 2017. In November, the Department of Justice’s State Department‑funded Resident Legal Advisor facilitated a week-long workshop with 29 participants from 15 key governmental agencies to assess Tanzania’s counterterrorism laws, guide stakeholders in drafting recommendations for legislative and procedural amendments, and modernize laws regarding the prosecution of foreign terrorist fighter cases. The workshop is part of a larger initiative to strengthen the country’s counterterrorism legislative framework.
Tanzania’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is an interagency unit composed of officers from the intelligence, police, defense, immigration, and prison sectors who coordinate regularly on counterterrorism issues. The organization struggles to operate effectively due to a weak mandate, a limited budget, and uneven interagency cooperation. The NCTC has participated in capacity-building efforts including training. In 2017, seven senior law enforcement officials, including representatives from the NCTC, attended the International Law Enforcement Academy Executive Policy and Development Symposium on Countering Violent Extremism and Crisis Leadership to develop deeper knowledge of leadership principles and violent extremism. The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center also led crisis management training in October for security and emergency personnel.
The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program delivered a Senior Crisis Management Seminar to bolster senior law enforcement’s ability to function during a crisis.
Securing Tanzanian borders is a chronic challenge for the government. The use of temporary or emergency identity and travel documents was widespread and complicates immigration security efforts. Additionally, border management systems were fragmented, with some crossings using the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES), some using International Organization for Migration (IOM) or other unknown systems, or in some cases border officials do not use an electronic records systems at all.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Tanzania is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Tanzania Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. Tanzania continued to make progress on strengthening anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism including through regulatory oversight of foreign exchange bureaus and money remitters. In January and March, the United States co-sponsored workshops for Tanzanian stakeholders to improve Tanzania’s mutual legal assistance procedures and increase international cooperation in the investigation of transnational crimes, including terrorist financing and money laundering. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Tanzania’s NCTC continued to lead CVE efforts and is the UN Development Program’s partner in a multi-year project to prevent violent extremism that began in the spring of 2017. Efforts were underway to draft a national preventing violent extremism strategy and action plan.
In general, the Government of Tanzania views terrorism as primarily an external threat to Tanzanian security and continued to focus on law enforcement and intelligence services with little engagement or coordination with civil society.
International and Regional Cooperation: Tanzania is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community, all of which implemented counterterrorism initiatives. Tanzania hosted a counterterrorism-focused SADC Special Forces Exercise in Tanga in August. Special Forces units from all SADC countries participated, and the exercise included a hostage rescue scenario.
Overview: The Government of Uganda continued to make important contributions toward countering terrorism in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in 2017 and demonstrated strong and sustained political will to apprehend suspected terrorists and disrupt terrorist activity in its territory. The Government of Uganda at times labeled conventional criminal acts as terrorism and leveled terrorism charges against journalists, public officials, and others the government deemed were acting against its interests, potentially diverting attention and resources from core counterterrorism goals. As the largest troop contributing country to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Uganda remained a key partner in regional efforts to neutralize al‑Shabaab.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In May 2017, the Ugandan government enacted an Anti-Terrorism Amendment Bill that expands the definitions of “terrorism” and “act of terrorism” to better align with international standards and broadens prohibitions on terrorist financing.
The Uganda Police Force (UPF) Directorate of Counterterrorism is the lead law enforcement entity charged with investigating, disrupting, and responding to terrorist incidents. Resource and training gaps, as well as corruption, affected the UPF’s overall capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. Interagency coordination among Ugandan security and intelligence organizations also remained a significant challenge.
The United States continued to provide some capacity-building assistance to the UPF through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program. Border security remained a persistent concern for the Ugandan government, with especially porous borders between Uganda and both South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Uganda used the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) to conduct traveler screening at the country’s major ports of entry.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uganda is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In November, the FATF Plenary Meeting approved a recommendation from the International Cooperation Review Group to remove Uganda from the FATF Compliance Document, noting that the Ugandan government had made significant progress in addressing the strategic deficiencies previously identified. Notably, Uganda signed and ratified all relevant UN conventions relating to money laundering and terrorism finance, passed the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act to address deficiencies in the principal Act, amended the Anti‑Terrorism Act, conducted a money laundering and terrorism finance national risk assessment, and established an anti-money laundering/countering terrorist finance National Task Force.
A significant portion of financial transactions in Uganda are in the form of “mobile money” or payments and electronic funds transfers initiated through mobile phones, which are vulnerable to exploitation by criminals and terrorists. While Uganda’s Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act requires financial institutions to conduct comprehensive customer due diligence, it does not put the same requirements on mobile money transfers. Banking institutions do not monitor mobile money payments and transfers in Uganda; mobile money transactions are instead under the purview of the individual telecommunications company that facilitates the specific transaction.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Uganda does not have a CVE National Action Plan, as recommended by the UN Secretary-General’s Preventing Violent Extremism Plan of Action, but has committed to putting one in place in 2018. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, at the direction of the prime minister, appointed a lead to oversee this process.
International and Regional Cooperation: Uganda is a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the East African Community, the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Uganda is the largest troop contributing country to AMISOM, which also includes military forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.