Overview: Côte d’Ivoire was added to the 2021 Country Report on Terrorism because a significant increase in attacks from violent extremists in the North spilled over the porous border from Burkina Faso. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire assesses the Macina Liberation Front (aka Katiba Macina), part of the al-Qa’ida affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), to be responsible for the attacks. JNIM exploits tensions between ethnic communities and is trying to expand into coastal West Africa.
Thus far, JNIM has successfully targeted Ivoirian security forces in the far North, with more than 20 casualties resulting from numerous of attacks. Separately, according to open-source reporting, some members of the large Lebanese community in Côte d’Ivoire provide financial support to Hizballah. The Ivoirian government demonstrates a strong commitment to preventing the spread of violent extremism by strengthening ties to the population through training and equipping, delivering public services, investing in infrastructure, and improving communication. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire is prioritizing investments in special units dedicated to investigating and countering terrorist activity.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: The following terrorist incidents occurred in 2021:
- On March 21, unidentified gunmen surrounded and attacked a military base, killing two in Kafolo, Savanes region (north), and used similar tactics in Tehini, Zanzan region (northern Côte d’Ivoire), to kill one.
- On April 12, in a rural area of Savanes region (north), a gendarmerie detonated an IED planted by unidentified terrorists. There were no reports of casualties.
- On June 10, also in a rural area of Savanes regions (north), the Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FACI) repulsed an attack on a rural military base that killed 12 soldiers and wounded seven others. FACI killed one assailant.
- On October 19, gunmen attacked a police station in Tehini, wounding one officer before FACI repulsed the attack.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Côte d’Ivoire and the United Nations Office for Counterterrorism signed an MOU on June 3, under the CT-Travel Program, to prevent and detect terrorist travel through advance information about airline passengers. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire passed the Ivoirian Anti-Terrorism Act No. 2015-493 in 2015. This legislation remains in effect. Under this law, individuals convicted of terrorist activity may be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison and fined up to CFA 50 million.
There are seven law enforcement units responsible for counterterrorism efforts: the Brigade Anti-terroriste, the Centre de Coordination des Décisions Opérationelles, the Force de Recherche et d’Assistance, the Unité de Lutte contre le Crime Organisé et Transnational, the Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financières, the Police Criminelle, and the Police Economique.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire created the Counterterrorism Operational Intelligence Center (or CROAT) under the dual supervision of the National Security Council and the Ministry of Defense. The security forces conducted several operations in response to the terrorist threat throughout the year.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Côte d’Ivoire is developing the expertise and body of laws required to successfully detect, prevent, and prosecute cases of terrorism financing. According to open-source research, Côte d’Ivoire allegedly is Hizballah’s primary center for fundraising within Africa, helped greatly by the country’s sizeable community of established Lebanese families.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire is part of the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa. Côte d’Ivoire is developing a national strategy to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Eight months after the terrorist attack on the tourist town of Grand Bassam (near Abidjan) in early 2016, the National Assembly passed the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act. That same year, Côte d’Ivoire joined the African Development Bank’s Partnership on Illicit Finance. The Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financières (Financial Information Treatment Cell) under the Ministry of Finance analyzes financial transactions and informs the banking sector of nonconforming ones.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2021, the Ivoirian government expanded the use of community policing practices to counter violent extremist groups, particularly in the north of the country. Law enforcement personnel receive training on and are directed to implement the doctrine in partnership with civil society, religious, traditional, and other community-based groups to co-create safe communities. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire directed security forces to collaborate with local populations to enhance border security by reviving a traditional practice of having visitors register their presence in a village with the local chief.
Côte d’Ivoire is actively developing approaches to enhance cooperation with historically marginalized communities, most notable of which is the Peulh (Fulani) ethnic group. Local authorities are aware of the need to address longstanding mistrust and are actively working to implement training and community outreach. Nevertheless, there are allegations of security forces targeting Peuhl based on their ethnicity.
International and Regional CT Cooperation: Côte d’Ivoire engaged actively in the following organizations:
- United Nations, member state
- UN Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT)
- UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)
- African Union, member state
- Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), member state • ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff Committee, member state
- Accra Initiative, member state
In June the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, in partnership with France, inaugurated the International Academy for the Fight Against Terrorism (AILCT) to improve domestic and regional efforts to holistically combat terrorism. The AILCT has three mutually reinforcing lines of effort: research, academic instruction, and tactical training.