Overview: The Republic of Djibouti remained a critical partner for the United States and the region in the fight against terrorism, and no terrorist incidents were reported in Djibouti in 2021. 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. Djiboutian law enforcement agencies continued to prioritize CT efforts throughout the country. As in previous years, Djiboutian government officials, particularly those in law enforcement and the Ministry of Islamic and Cultural Affairs, worked closely to identify and address terrorist activity.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is the regional organization for the Greater Horn of Africa, headquartered in Djibouti. IGAD’s Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE) provides training and resources to counter violent extremism throughout the region. Djibouti’s armed forces deploy soldiers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) campaign and will field their Rapid Intervention Battalion in FY 2024 with the task of rapid response and CT.
2021 Terrorist Attacks: There were no terrorist incidents reported in Djibouti in 2021.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Djibouti has a legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related crimes and can try those charged of terrorism-related offenses in criminal courts, using its penal code. In 2020, the Ministry of Justice issued life sentences to two accomplices in a 2014 suicide-bomber attack at a popular restaurant, La Chaumière.
Djiboutian law enforcement agencies consist of the Djiboutian National Police (DNP), the Djiboutian National Gendarmerie (the Gendarmerie), the General Directorate for Services of Documentation and Security, and the Djiboutian National Coast Guard — all of which proactively detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism in the country. The DNP, the Gendarmerie, and the Coast Guard developed a biometric program that uses handheld biometric capture devices, which can generate a DNA profile. Once populated, the Gendarmerie and Coast Guard DNA database can be searched for identity and limited familial (including paternal) relationships.
Djibouti continued to enhance border security and deter terrorist travel, with security protocols and increased use of criminal databases such as INTERPOL’s. The country also continued to conduct traveler screening and process travelers through entry and exit points at the international airport and seaports.
Most travelers who enter Djibouti do so by land at one of four border points, one of them at the Somali-Djibouti border. Maritime travelers also enter at Obock, located on the north side of the Gulf of Tadjoura. Djiboutian law enforcement agencies coordinate their CT functions and information sharing. The DNP controls border checkpoints, with support from the Gendarmerie patrolling between border posts, and the country’s armed forces are responsible for patrolling
land borders in remote locations. To screen for potential security threats, law enforcement agencies also maintain checkpoints and conduct vehicle cordon-and-search operations on the way into and within the capital city.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Djibouti’s FIU is Le Service de Renseignements Financiers (SRF). SRF oversees and enforces AML/CFT regulations. It conducted online trainings on detecting terrorism financing, including for financial institutions, to identify potential terrorism financing threats among their NGO account holders. The FIU also signed MOUs with the Djibouti Tax Office and Djibouti Customs, intending to enhance cooperation between the two government agencies and SRF on countering terrorism financing. Djibouti is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a FATF-style regional body.
The country’s proximity to Somalia and Yemen remains a risk factor for terrorism financing concerns, as many Djibouti-based financial institutions continue to operate in neighboring countries that have weak or no AML/CFT legislation or other financial controls. There were no published law enforcement cases involving suspected terrorism financing in 2021.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Ministry of Justice continued to convene the National Antiterrorism Taskforce, consisting of a national commission of experts, including from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ICEPCVE. The task force held several terrorism-related exercises on responses to and the prevention of terrorist attacks, enhancing protection of soft targets such as restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores. Although law enforcement measures constitute the bulk of Djibouti’s national CT strategy, community engagement — including with youth, sports, culture, and civil society organizations — is an increasingly important feature of its CVE efforts. Law enforcement agencies continued to work with the High Islamic Council within the Ministry of Islamic and Cultural Affairs to identify and monitor activity that promoted violent extremism.
International and Regional Cooperation: Djibouti hosts IGAD’s executive secretariat. Additionally, the IGAD ICEPCVE is based in Djibouti and provided training and resources on CVE throughout the region, including representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The Djiboutian military continued its participation in AMISOM, which counts Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda as the other four Troop Contributing Countries.