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.