Niger

Overview: Niger faces terrorist threats on most of its borders. Terrorist organizations take  advantage of Niger’s extensive borders and sparsely populated desert regions to attack and  recruit among populations where access to government services is weak and economic  opportunity is negligible. The Government of Niger is a member of the Multinational Joint Task  Force and the G-5 Sahel. Niger’s efforts to fight terrorism are stressed by its small defense  force, ineffective coordination among security services, budget shortfalls, and instability in  Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, and the Lake Chad Basin.

Terrorist groups active in Niger included ISIS-GS, BH, ISIS-WA, and JNIM — the last of these  an amalgamation of the Saharan branch of AQIM, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina  Liberation Front.

2021 Terrorist Incidents: Terrorist organizations carried out at least 74 attacks in Niger during  2021. Two main fronts saw attacks from BH and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) in the Southeast,  and from JNIM and the ISIS-GS in the West and Northwest. The following five incidents are  examples of the most significant attacks:

  • On January 2, terrorists attacked two villages in the Tondikiwindi district of Tillabéri  region, killing 101 civilians.
  • On March 16, terrorists attacked the villages of Banibangou, Chinagodrar, and Darey  Dey in the Tillabéri region, killing an estimated 64 civilians and burning grain stores. • On March 21, terrorists attacked the villages of Akifakif, Bakorat, and Intazayene in the  Tillia district of the Tahoua region, killing an estimated 177 civilians.
  • On November 2, ISIS-GS attacked the village of Banibangou, Tillabéri region, killing at  least 69 civilians.
  • On May 4, 200 terrorists attacked a military outpost near Banibangou in the Tillabéri  region, killing at least 15 soldiers and wounding four others. In a second attack on the  same day, terrorists killed 20 civilians in Chinagodrar, Tillabéri region.

Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Following rapidly evolving threats in the tri-border  region, key officials in the Ministries of the Interior and Justice amended the national framework  regarding defectors to encompass the management of defectors from extremist organizations in  any of Niger’s impacted zones.

The updated national framework, ratified in May, provides uniform defection screening by the  National Police’s Central Service for the Fight Against Terrorism and Transnational Organized  Crime (SCLCT-CTO) and the national prosecutor to determine eligibility for rehabilitation. It

also provides for development of regional rehabilitation centers, and establishes a National  Disengagement, Disassociation, Rehabilitation, & Reintegration (DDRR) Steering Committee.

Since 2019, the IOM has expanded support to implement the DDRR program for the Tillabéri  region, similar to the Government of Niger’s Rehabilitation Center in Goudoumaria, Diffa  region. Completion of the country’s second defections center in Hamdallaye is anticipated in  2022.

Nigerien law enforcement and security services were actively engaged in detecting, deterring,  and preventing acts of terrorism. CT investigations are the responsibility of the SCLCT-CTO, an  interagency body formed by members of Niger’s National Police, National Guard, and  Gendarmerie. Niger reinforced its capacities to investigate, adjudicate, and imprison terrorists,  consistent with the rule of law and international human rights. UNODC trained members of  Niger’s military responding to terrorism incidents to use standard operating procedures to  improve the collection of evidence for use in the judicial process. Niger is recognized by  regional partners as a leader in prosecuting terrorist suspects through its specialized antiterrorism  court, which is supported by the embassy’s U.S. Department of Justice Overseas Prosecutorial  Development, Assistance and Training program resident legal advisor, whose work with the  tribunal has supported more-efficient analyses of counterterrorism cases, resulting in a reduced  number of pending terrorism cases and increased capabilities of prosecutors and judges.

Niger continued to enhance its capacity to detect and deter terrorist incursions at its borders and  ports of entry through the expansion of new technologies, public outreach, critical infrastructure  development, and additional specialized security forces assigned along the border; however, it  remains dependent on international partners to fund and implement border security initiatives.

Niger uses border security systems through the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST),  a bureau within the national police responsible for travel documents, identification credentials,  and border security. Border security systems collect biometric information at air and land ports  of entry and are linked to INTERPOL’s I-24/7 network-sharing relevant traveler information  with partner nations.

DST headquarters construction was completed in 2020, and the DST is now fully operational in  the new facility. IOM supported DST in the development of revised legal texts to improve  governance of the DST, though the reforms have not yet been formally adopted by the Ministry  of Interior or included in the five-year development plan to guide ongoing management and  operations of the organization.

The Rural Border Patrol Operations Program that launched in 2019 and provides equipment,  training, and mentorship continued to see success in conducting rural patrols along Niger’s  western border with Burkina Faso. The groups are identifying terrorist safe havens, arresting  suspects, and recovering evidence on these groups.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Niger is a member of the GIABA. For further  information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2021 International Narcotics  Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Vol. 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes. 

Countering Violent Extremism: In 2021, USAID strengthened women’s representation,  capacity, and leadership, including support for the G-5 Sahel Women’s Platform and established  local peace committees to strengthen local conflict monitoring, prevention, and management.  USAID also supported youth-led conflict mitigation and stabilization efforts in five communes in  northern Tillabéri. The agency supported community radio stations in delivering positive  messages to counter violent extremist organizations’ ideology and activities to prevent and  resolve conflict at the community level.

USAID supported three operational and pilot research activities on gendered drivers of violent  extremism, the role of traditional leaders in resilience to violent extremism, and the effectiveness  of community-level programming in building social cohesion and resilience. USAID’s Office of  Transition Initiatives focused on critical regions where emerging threats were beginning to grow  in the southern areas of the Tillabéri and Dosso regions. Under the Niger Stability Support  Initiative, USAID partnered with local leaders in these target areas to strengthen government  action in response to threats to stability.

International and Regional Cooperation: Niger is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat  ISIS and co-chairs the AFFG. Niger is a member of the G-5 Sahel and the Sahel Alliance and  manages the G-5 Sahel Joint Forces’ Central Sector Command in Niamey and hosts a battalion  in the Eastern Sector in Madama. Niger contributes troops to the Lake Chad Basin Multinational  Joint Task Force and MINUSMA. Niger is a member of the Economic Community of West  African States.

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