Overview: In 2012, the Government of Burkina Faso was vigilant and responsive to the threats and dangers posed by terrorist organizations, specifically al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The government continued to stress that regional cooperation is imperative to combat and defeat terrorism. It proactively issued notices to the diplomatic community regarding the AQIM threat.

In recent years, the Government of Burkina Faso has been instrumental in securing the release of Western hostages from AQIM and other organizations in the region. In April and July, Burkinabe officials successfully negotiated three separate agreements to release hostages held by AQIM, Ansar al Dine, and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). The first release, on April 17, was of an Italian citizen who had been held hostage for 14 months. The second release, on April 24, was of a Swiss hostage who had been kidnapped earlier in the month by a private militia, handed over to AQIM, and then transferred to Ansar al Dine. The third release, on July 19, included one Italian and two Spanish citizens who had been kidnapped by MUJAO in Algeria in October 2011. The Government of Burkina Faso did not release information to the public regarding the terms of these hostage releases.

These three cases highlighted earlier comments, made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to reporters, that Burkina Faso had contacts to secure the release of Western hostages held by AQIM and other unidentified groups in the region. The Foreign Minister acknowledged that Burkina Faso has been spared so far from terrorist activities, but that the threat is real and Burkina Faso is not immune. In October 2012, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore ordered the deployment of 1,000 combat troops to the northern region of the country bordering crisis-hit Mali, to guard against kidnappings.

While the Burkinabe government's counterterrorism capabilities remained limited, the continued delivery of U.S. training and equipment, as well as Burkina Faso's participation in regional counterterrorism conferences and training opportunities, were important benchmarks for 2012.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Burkinabe prosecutors have not developed expertise in terrorism investigations due to the lack of substantive terrorism cases in the country. Prosecutors continued to be included in both bilateral and regional counterterrorism training opportunities to enhance their capacity and develop a rapport with the National Police and National Gendarmerie. Despite financial constraints, the Burkinabe government increased armed patrols in the capital and along the border in response to the crisis in Mali.

Burkina Faso received substantial training support for counterterrorism, intelligence, and border security issues through the International Law Enforcement Academy and the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) Program. More than 160 Burkinabe law enforcement officials attended and graduated from ATA courses in 2012. The primary beneficiaries of ATA training remained the National Police and National Gendarmerie. Customs, the Municipal Police of Ouagadougou, and criminal prosecutors also participated. The Burkinabe government, with the assistance of ATA training, developed and refined response plans for a kidnapping for ransom (KFR) operation.

In October, Burkina Faso agreed to implement and support the installation of the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (TIP/PISCES) at the International Airport of Ouagadougou.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Burkina Faso is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Burkinabe Financial Intelligence Unit, CENTIF, collects and processes financial information on money laundering and terrorist financing. Since its 2008 inception, CENTIF has participated in an extensive training program on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2012, CENTIF completed a research trip to Monaco and participated in training in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Burkinabe government continued to provide financial institutions with the names of UN-listed terrorist individuals and entities. There were no known terrorist financing prosecutions in 2012. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Burkina Faso's continued participation in the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership provided border training, two-way radios, and vehicles to Burkinabe gendarme units in the Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso tri-border area. Burkina Faso participated in the Global Counterterrorism Forum's Sahel Working Group. The Burkinabe government remained responsive to U.S. government requests for military and security assistance. It participated in regional and international counterterrorism conferences and training exercises, including with regard to KFR.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Burkinabe government encourages regular and ongoing interfaith dialogues as a way to mitigate violent extremism. Religious leaders regularly denounced violence and called for the peaceful coexistence of all religions.


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