Overview: In 2019, Chad experienced an estimated twofold increase in the number of terrorist attacks in the Lake Chad region from the previous year. Though the magnitude of the average attack has lessened since 2018, BH returned to the tactics of suicide bombing and IEDs, which had not been seen in several years. BH continued to be the most active terrorist organization in Chad, and ISIS-WA maintained a presence, predominantly in the Lake Chad area, as well. The Government of Chad (GoC) remained a reliable partner of U.S. and other CT missions, even as financing continued to constrain operations. Security forces and basic government services remained underfunded, which limited the GoC’s effectiveness, but Chadian armed forces still led missions throughout the region to maintain security in the Sahel. Chad provided about 1,200 combat forces to Lake Chad Region’s Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF); however, shortly before the end of 2019, these forces redeployed to Chad. Chad maintained a strong commitment to fight terrorists even in the most dangerous corners of the Sahel and deployed forces to Mali and Burkina Faso. Chad continued to host the French Operation Barkhane, France’s CT mission for the Sahel. The United States provided significant support for Chad’s Special Anti-Terrorism Group and began a multi-year training program to establish a CT Investigation Unit.
2019 Terrorist Incidents: BH and ISIS-WA continued attacks around the eastern and northern shores of Lake Chad at a pace of approximately two per week. Many of these were small raids to plunder supplies, but terrorist groups also mounted several larger attacks of 100 or more fighters on Chadian military outposts. The reemergence of suicide bombings by young women on civilian targets in Chad heightened tensions. Several Chadian military units were also attacked with IEDs, including one in May that killed four Chadian soldiers and one journalist. In October, terrorists kidnapped a doctor and two nurses, all employees of the Chadian Ministry of Health, to provide treatment to wounded terrorist fighters. The hostages have not been recovered and the incident has spurred further deployments of Chadian security forces to the region.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The new Director General of National Police proved very supportive of U.S. CT efforts in 2019. The National Police coordinated with the Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program to select a group of law enforcement and military officers from multiple agencies to form a new CT investigation unit and gave them a compound from which to operate.
Securing borders remains a difficult task throughout the region. Porous borders on all sides, particularly across Lake Chad, provide easy passage for terrorists and criminal entities alike. Border security remained a shared task of the Gendarmes, Army, Customs, and the National and Nomadic Guard (GNNT), none of which is resourced sufficiently. The Army and GNNT comprised the front line in nearly all major incidents involving BH and ISIS-WA. At official ports of entry, both air and ground, Chad continued to be a partner in the PISCES program, which screens travelers against domestic terrorist databases.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Chad is a member of GABAC. Chad’s FIU, the National Agency for Financial Investigation, is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant updates in 2019.
Countering Violent Extremism: In September, the executive director of the American-Islamic Congress visited Chad for a speech, which was organized through the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in response to the Chadian High Council for Islamic Affairs’ request for an American Muslim speaker. The speaker used a variety of private, public, and media events to reinforce themes such as tolerance, inclusion, and women’s empowerment. The High Council participated in cultural exchanges with and in the United States and stated that religious leaders’ role is to keep and promote peace as well as connectedness with others.
International and Regional Cooperation: Chad is a leader in exporting security throughout the region. Surrounded by conflict, Chad supported CT and peacekeeping forces through numerous international organizations and provided many of the most effective military units in the most dangerous parts of central Africa. In support of the MNJTF, 1,200 Chadians traveled to Nigeria to face BH, and Chad deployed 2,600 service members to joint border security operations as part of this task force and the G-5 Sahel. The Chadian Army sent another 600 soldiers to conduct security operations on the border with Sudan. Again in 2019, Chad supported the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with 1,425 soldiers trained by the United States. In all cases, Chadians have demonstrated the willingness and ability to engage and defeat terrorists. As a result, Chad is highly sought after for contributions to regional missions.
Chad maintains close working relationships with France, and the French Operation Barkhane launches CT missions throughout the Sahel from its base in N’Djamena. Several other European nations increased their engagement with Chad in 2019 as well, and the GoC also sought security support from less traditional allies. The United States remained the largest direct supporter of Chadian security forces, however, and Chad remained a reliable partner in the region in the fight against terrorism.