Djibouti

Overview:  Djibouti is a critical partner for the United States and the region in the fight against terrorism.  Since 2002, Djibouti has hosted Camp Lemonnier, the headquarters of AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, among several other U.S. military and government tenants, and the only enduring U.S. military installation in Africa.  Given Djibouti’s proximity to prominent terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab that control territory in neighboring Somalia, Djiboutian government officials — particularly those in law enforcement and the Ministry of Islamic and Cultural Affairs — prioritize counterterrorism (CT) efforts and identify and address potential terrorist activity.  The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional organization headquartered in Djibouti, also maintains a Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE), providing training and resources to counter violent extremism throughout the region.  Djibouti’s armed forces deploy two battalions to the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

2022 Terrorist Attacks:  There were no significant incidents in 2022.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Following an attack by the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD)-Armée movement  on Djiboutian military forces in October, the National Assembly of Djibouti adopted a law to designate the small armed rebel group  as a domestic terrorist organization, a major shift in the two-decade rebellion.  The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti subsequently increased cross-border security cooperation.  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.  The United States has not designated the FRUD-Armée as a terrorist group.

Djiboutian law enforcement agencies consist of the Djiboutian National Police (DNP), the Djiboutian National Gendarmerie (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 use a biometric program that utilizes handheld biometric capture devices, which can generate a DNA profile.  Once populated, the Gendarmerie and Coast Guard DNA database can help law enforcement with identity and limited network analysis, tracking familial relationships.  The DNP will manage and populate its own separate DNA database.

Djibouti continued to enhance border security and deter terrorist travel, with security protocols and increased use of criminal databases such as those provided by/acquired from INTERPOL.  The Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (or PISCES) also continued to assist Djiboutian border security officials with conducting traveler screening and processing travelers through entry and exit points at the international airport and seaports.  While these entry points remain critical, most travelers enter Djibouti by land at one of four border points, one of them at the Somali-Djibouti border.  In addition to Djibouti city area ports, 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 is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, and its FIU is Le Service de Renseignements Financiers.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

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 also 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 constituted the bulk of Djibouti’s national CT strategy, community engagement — including with youth, sports, culture, and civil society organizations — was an increasingly important feature of its PCVE 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 promotes violent extremism.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Djibouti hosts IGAD’s executive secretariat.  Additionally, the IGAD ICEPCVE is based in Djibouti and provides training and resources on PCVE throughout the region, including representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.  The Djiboutian military continued its participation in ATMIS, which counts Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda as the other four Troop Contributing Countries.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future