Overview: In 2013, the Government of Burkina Faso aggressively undertook measures to combat the regional danger posed by terrorist organizations, specifically al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). It also responded to potential threats; and continued to stress the importance of international cooperation in defeating terrorism. The Government of Burkina Faso has recognized the importance of regional stability as an element in the fight against terrorism, and as a result has played an important regional role in finding a political solution to the conflict in Mali.

Burkina Faso is a strong U.S. security and defense partner in the region and continued to receive substantial training and material support for counterterrorism efforts through its participation in the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and multinational peacekeeping efforts. U.S. assistance facilitated the establishment of a 1,000-person border security task force, and the training and equipping of a military counterterrorist unit. Burkina Faso also contributed a peacekeeping battalion and police unit to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

As a result of a heightened general threat of retaliation following the French-led military intervention in Mali, the Government of Burkina Faso increased its security posture at diplomatic facilities and at major public events. Unconfirmed reports indicated the possibility of violent extremist elements entering Burkina Faso's northern region, notably its refugee camps, either for safe haven or to extend their operational reach. In response, the Burkinabè military deployed a joint counterterrorist task force of soldiers and gendarmes to assist in the management of refugees, gather intelligence, secure key infrastructure, and interdict terrorist activity.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Burkina Faso implemented the Terrorism Suppression Law of 2009, modeled after French law, which criminalizes a wide range of terrorist-related activities and imposes criminal punishment of up to life in prison. However, no one had been charged under the law by year's end.

Burkina Faso's police and gendarmerie were hindered by a chronic lack of training, specialized tactical equipment, and personnel. There was a lack of interagency coordination and intelligence sharing between the gendarmerie, which falls under the Ministry of Defense, and police agencies, which all operate under the authority of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security. The gendarmerie has specialized units which conduct investigations, respond to crises, and protect the nation's borders, but is too small to be effective throughout the country. The National Police, who are likely to be first responders, lag far behind the gendarmerie in training and equipment. There is a lack of information technology resources to assist criminal investigation, manage cases, and share intelligence.

The Government of Burkina Faso took several steps to improve its capabilities, however. In January, the government ordered the creation of a new police unit charged with counterterrorism; and in March, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security announced a 50 percent increase in recruitment of national police in 2014 to respond to growing security issues.

The U.S. government, through the U.S. Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, has provided assistance to the National Police since 2010. In 2013, Burkinabè officials were trained in crime scene investigations and post-blast evidence recovery. In 2013, 26 police officers, gendarmes, and criminal prosecutors participated in four International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) courses, including the six-week Law Enforcement Executive Development course. In February, the U.S. government provided non-lethal tactical equipment to the National Police's Multipurpose Intervention Unit.

With the support of the United States, the Government of Burkina Faso installed the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) biometric traveler database at the airport in Ouagadougou.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Burkina Faso is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. A recent FATF/GIABA West Africa terrorist finance case study featured a case from Burkina Faso involving cash couriers and arms smugglers operating in Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Burkina Faso has an extremely small formal banking sector which makes cash and other informal value systems significant risks for abuse by terrorists. While the Ministry of Finance's financial intelligence unit, CENTIF, collects and processes financial information on money laundering and terrorist financing, it lacks adequate human and information technology resources to identify and prosecute significant money laundering, which is likely occurring. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 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 is active in regional organizations and international bodies, including the UN, AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). In April, Burkina Faso and Denmark co-hosted a regional workshop on countering violent extremism in Ouagadougou to gain insights on concrete programming ideas from partners. In October, Burkina Faso hosted another regional workshop for the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

The Government of Burkina Faso played a leading role in finding a political solution to the conflict in Mali. President Blaise Compaore, as ECOWAS mediator, led negotiations between northern Malian groups and the interim government in Bamako that culminated in the Ouagadougou Accord in June, paving the way for successful presidential elections in July.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Burkina Faso is a majority-Muslim country, where the predominant form of practice of Sunni Islam is not conducive to violent extremism. The country is often mentioned as an example of religious tolerance. Religious leaders regularly denounce violence and call for peaceful coexistence of all religions, and civil society organizations play an active role in mitigating religious conflict. The Burkinabè government encourages regular and ongoing inter-faith dialogues. In 2013, the government of Burkina Faso enthusiastically welcomed several international countering violent extremism efforts, including programs led by the United States, Denmark, and the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation.


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