Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Senegal

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 July 2017
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Senegal, 19 July 2017, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: The Government of Senegal worked closely with U.S. military and law enforcement officials to strengthen its counterterrorism capabilities. High-profile attacks in late 2015 in Mali and in early 2016 in Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso heightened concerns in Senegal that it could become a target for terrorist attacks. The Senegalese government undertook several important legislative and structural changes to better confront the threat posed by terrorists in the region, but these changes were not fully implemented by the end of 2016.

The risk of violent extremism and terrorist activity in Senegal arises from external and internal factors. Externally, transnational threats arose due to the Senegalese military presence in several theaters of operation in the region. Internally, fundamentalist ideologies promoted by a small number of religious leaders constituted the chief concern; however, these ideologies are well outside the moderate Islam that predominates in Senegal.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Senegal enacted several important changes to its counterterrorism structures in 2016. In February, Senegal created a specialized Inter-Ministerial Framework for Intervention and Coordination of Counterterrorism Operations (CICO) to coordinate its terrorism response. In November, the government enacted changes to its Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, creating new terrorism offenses and increasing penalties and pre-trial detention periods. Finally, in December, Senegal's President and Prime Minister signed legislation – unique in West Africa – that consolidates Senegal's intelligence services with its judiciary and could greatly expand Senegal's investigative options in terrorism cases. This law, related to intelligence services, allows intelligence officers to refer cases directly to prosecutors and, in turn, gives prosecutors the power to supervise and direct police officers within the specialized team of investigators assigned to the intelligence services. The CICO and the intelligence law were not fully implemented by the end of 2016. Senegal's Ministry of Justice has created a specialized counterterrorism pool consisting of four prosecutors and seven investigative judges, based in Dakar, who have national jurisdiction for terrorism prosecutions and case oversight.

Senegal's gendarmerie and national police have specialized units to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism. Senegal is working to improve its law enforcement capacity by participating in multilateral efforts, such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum's (GCTF's) Border Security Initiative and programs of the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Additionally, Senegal has been working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to promote cooperation and coordination between border agencies, including creating new, joint points of entry, funded by the European Union and the Government of Japan. With U.S. funding, the IOM is implementing a complimentary program to enhance institutional capacities in securing and managing national borders. This will include developing and emphasizing: stronger community engagement and more coherent approaches to border management, interagency cooperation, and coordination; cross-border interoperability; and trust between border communities and security officials that contributes to establishing open but well-controlled and secure borders guaranteeing full respect of human rights of persons on the move. Senegal also participated in U.S. government counterterrorism capacity-building programs, including the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance Program, and received significant funding and training from the French government.

Senegalese officials have identified a continued lack of border resources and regional cooperation as major security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are exacerbated by the absence of systems to ensure travel document security, the effective use of terrorist screening watch lists, and the collection of biographic and biometric screening capabilities beyond those deployed at major ports of entry. The southern and eastern portions of the country have far fewer resources to detect and deter extremists from traveling through those areas. Additionally, there is a lack of interagency cooperation across the several government entities that deal with terrorism, but there are hopes the newly created CICO will bring much needed coordination within the government.

Significant law enforcement actions in 2016 included the June arrest of a religious leader who was accused of advocating terrorism. He was later sentenced to 30 months in jail. Ten other individuals were arrested during the year on suspicion of conspiring to commit terrorist acts related to their support for Boko Haram. One Senegalese national was arrested in Mauritania and extradited to Senegal in July on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, illegal possession of explosives, and financing terrorism. Three other individuals were arrested and charged with transmitting terrorism propaganda via social media.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Senegal is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Senegal's financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Intelligence Processing Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. At the regional level, Senegal implements the anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework used by member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Among WAEMU countries, Senegal was the first to implement the regional AML/CFT legal framework domestically through the adoption of a terrorist financing law in 2009.

Senegal did not enact any new laws or regulations on CFT in 2016, but it did prosecute one individual under their existing regulations. While Senegal criminalizes the offense of terrorist financing, it does not criminalize the provision of funds to terrorist organizations or to individual terrorists in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act. Senegal also lacks specific measures to criminalize the provision of support for foreign terrorist fighters. Additionally, Senegal has a framework in place to carry out its obligations under the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime; however, the procedures for accessing and freezing assets of listed individuals is not clarified in existing regulations.

For additional information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INSCR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Countering Violent Extremism: Strong cultural and religious traditions have made Senegalese society resistant to violent extremist ideologies. Islam in Senegal is organized around several influential Sufi brotherhoods that are generally tolerant and do not preach extremist ideology. These brotherhoods are also fairly resistant to external influences. There were indications, however, that a small number of religious leaders were espousing fundamentalist ideology that is outside the mainstream moderate Sufi Islam that predominates in Senegal. In December, President Sall took advantage of a major Muslim religious celebration to reach out to the leaders of the Senegalese brotherhoods to highlight the role they play in countering violent extremism and to ask for their support, particularly in the area of education.

International and Regional Cooperation: Senegal is a member of the United Nations, the AU, ECOWAS, the OIC, and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, as well as the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism. In January, Senegal began a two-year term as an elected member of the UNSC and serves as one of the vice chairs of the committee established pursuant to UNSC resolution 1540 on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In November, as president of the UNSC, Senegal co-sponsored with Spain an Arria-formula meeting on cybersecurity and terrorist use of the internet. Although not a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Senegal participated in the GCTF's Sahel Region Capacity-Building Working Group. The French and the European Union provided financial support and training to reinforce Senegal's counterterrorism and border security capabilities. In February, Senegal was the host nation for the AFRICOM Flintlock joint military exercise, which included a law enforcement component, and in November, the Government of Senegal hosted the third annual International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, which included a strong focus on terrorism issues.

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