Burkina Faso

Overview:  The number of terrorist attacks in 2022 surpassed the total number from 2021.  ISIS-Sahel, formerly known as ISIS-GS, and the al-Qa’ida-affiliated JNIM operate in Burkina Faso.  According to open-source reporting, JNIM carried out more than 400 total attacks across 10 of the 13 regions in Burkina Faso in 2022.

Both JNIM and ISIS-Sahel increased attacks against civilians, with 2022 recording a significantly higher number of civilian casualties, per public data.  Methods included improvised explosive devices (IEDs), ambushes, targeted assassinations, and targeted critical infrastructure attacks on cell phone towers, the water supply, and government offices.  The Sahel, Nord, Centre-Nord, Est, Centre-Est and Boucle du Mouhoun Regions experienced the greatest impact of violent extremist organization (VEO) activity.

U.S. bilateral security assistance for the Government of Burkina Faso is restricted, as a result of the January coup d’état.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  Terrorists carried out dozens of attacks throughout Burkina Faso in 2022 against civilians, including humanitarian workers and community leaders, and against defense and security forces.  Multiple mass casualty events occurred, including instances of specifically targeting civilians, using ambushes and IEDs.

  • On March 13, VEOs ambushed a group of gendarmes responding to an IED attack northeast of Kaya (Centre-Nord Region), killing at least 13 and wounding five.
  • During June 9-11, VEOs attacked Seytenga (Sahel Region), killing 11 police and at least 100 civilians, primarily men.
  • On July 4, armed assailants killed at least 22 civilians during an attack in Kossi province (Boucle du Mouhoun Region).
  • On September 6, 37 civilians were killed and another 37 wounded when a vehicle transporting supplies and passengers hit an IED near the towns of Djibo and Bourzanga (Sahel Region).
  • On September 26, 10 civilians and 27 soldiers were killed in Gaskindé (Sahel Region) during an ambush on a supply convoy bound for Djibo.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The state of emergency declared in six regions and 14 provinces since 2019 remained in effect through 2022.  In June, former transition president Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba established two military “zones of interest,” requiring civilians to vacate them.  In October, Transition President Capt. Ibrahim Traore announced a recruitment effort to add 50,000 civilian defense volunteers to assist government forces in combating terrorism.  The country’s specialized military counterterrorism capabilities nest within the army’s Special Forces.  Both the National Gendarmerie and the National Police have their respective specialized law enforcement counterterrorism units, proficient in crisis response and rural border patrol capabilities.  The Brigade Spéciale des Investigations Antiterroristes (or BSIAT) is Burkina Faso’s hybrid police-gendarmerie unit charged with handling terrorism investigations and referring cases to the counterterrorism court for prosecution.  There were no terrorism trials in 2022.

Approximately 15 out of 21 fixed border posts installed at the land border crossings remain operational.  Immigration border police have access to systems to conduct, analyze, and store biometric enrollment for travelers.  Burkina Faso’s border with Côte d’Ivoire remained officially closed throughout 2022.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Burkina Faso is a member of the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa and its Financial Intelligence Unit, the National Financial Information Processing Unit-Burkina Faso (or CENTIF-BF), is a member of the Egmont Group.  Burkina Faso remained on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “gray list” in 2022.

In 2022, FATF reported Burkina Faso took steps toward improving its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism regime, including by adopting and implementing follow-up mechanisms for monitoring actions in its national strategy, conducting targeted financial sanctions awareness-raising programs, and strengthening efforts to pursue confiscation as a policy objective.

Countering Violent Extremism:  In March, then-Transition President Lt. Col. Damiba announced the establishment of Local Dialogues for the Restoration of Peace, aimed at bringing local leaders and low-level VEO members together to resolve conflicts.  This was an expansion of an initiative begun by former-President Kaboré.  Current Transition President Traore has discontinued the initiative, noting, “We can’t negotiate our values.”  Damiba also publicly pushed efforts for deradicalization to violence and touted a government center to receive and reintegrate former violent extremist fighters, while Traore has been silent on those efforts.

International and Regional Cooperation

  • G-5 Sahel:  Burkina Faso is part of the G-5 Sahel, along with Chad, Mauritania, and Niger.  The group’s effectiveness has been called into question after Mali’s withdrawal in May.
  • Accra Initiative:  In November, the member states decided to establish a Multinational Joint Task Force with 10,000 troops.  Burkina Faso has not stated whether or how it would work together with that force.
  • ECOWAS:  Following the January coup, Burkina was suspended from full participation in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) until elections are held, currently envisioned for mid-2024.  ECOWAS announced the development of a regional peacekeeping force in December.

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