Overview: In 2014, the threat of terrorist activity by Boko Haram in the area near Niger's southern border with Nigeria increased substantially. While most Boko Haram-related violence occurred outside Niger, a few isolated incidents occurred on the Nigerien side of the border, and suspected Boko Haram members were arrested there. Additionally, hundreds of Nigerian soldiers and tens of thousands displaced persons fleeing from Boko Haram crossed into Niger – adding to tensions in Niger's region of Diffa. The Government of Niger deployed additional military and law enforcement resources to this area.

Suspected members of al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other terrorist organizations continued to transit through the vast northern part of Niger in the areas bordering Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Chad. Weapons and contraband were believed to move through these areas, some of which were interdicted by the Nigerien military. The terrorist group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility for one attack against government personnel in Niger. During 2014, with foreign assistance, the Nigerien military continued to increase its capability to patrol, collect information, and interdict in the north.

Niger remained an outspoken opponent of terrorism in the region, continued to cooperate with international partners – including the United States, and received substantial international counterterrorism assistance. Niger is one of six countries participating in the President's Security Governance Initiative (SGI) announced at the U.S.-Africa Leaders' Summit. SGI focuses on the management, oversight, and accountability of the security sector at the institutional level.

Nigerien officials took credit for mediating the release of several Europeans held hostage by AQIM who were released in 2014, allegedly after payments were made.

2014 Terrorist Incidents: Attacks included:

  • On May 2, the president of the local Chamber of Commerce in the Diffa region was killed at his home by suspected Boko Haram sympathizers. Reports indicated that the victim was targeted and killed because he was believed to be an informant working for the Government of Niger. No arrests were made in connection with this murder.

  • On May 20, in the village of Chetimawongo in the Diffa region, the village chief and a shopkeeper were murdered by having their throats slit by suspected Boko Haram militants. It was believed that the village chief and the shopkeeper were targeted because they were suspected of providing information on Boko Haram to Nigerien security services. No arrests were made in connection with this incident.

  • On October 30, three simultaneous attacks – using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) – targeting Nigerien personnel and institutions were carried out in the Tillabery region. While no group claimed credit for these attacks, there were reports that the attackers had ties to MUJAO. The first attack targeted a mixed patrol of Nigerien National Police, National Guard, and gendarme personnel who were camped near the Niger/Mali border near the village of Zaroumdaray. The second attack targeted a gendarme post located at a Malian refugee camp near the village of Mangaize. The third attack, and subsequent prison break, occurred at a prison protected by the National Guard located in the town of Ouallam. These attacks resulted in at least nine Nigerien security service personnel being killed, several more being wounded, the theft of multiple weapons and ammunition, the destruction of one vehicle, and the escape of over 60 prisoners. Many of the prisoners were recaptured or returned of their own accord, but the ones connected to the attackers were still at large at year's end.

  • On November 19, MUJAO violent extremists attacked a gendarme post near the village of Bani Bangou in Tillabery region using small arms and RPGs. Although the gendarmes were able to repel the attack, one gendarme was killed and three others were wounded. The assailants managed to take a vehicle, several small arms, and ammunition from the gendarme post as they fled. A local telecommunications operation was destroyed in the attack, presumably in an attempt to prevent the gendarmes from contacting other security services for reinforcements.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Niger's legislation criminalizes acts of terrorism consistent with the international instruments on terrorism. Recent amendments to the code of criminal procedure created a specialized counterterrorism jurisdiction and authorized more robust investigative techniques. In 2014, Niger's interagency counterterrorism investigative cell, the Central Service for the Fight against Terrorism (SCLCT), was expanded to include a separate operational cell in the regional capital of Diffa.

The law enforcement and security services of Niger were actively engaged in detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism in Nigerien territory. However, a lack of sufficient manpower, funding, and necessary equipment made this more difficult. Counterterrorism investigations in Niger are primarily the responsibility of the SCLCT, which is made up of representatives from Niger's three primary law enforcement organizations: the National Police, the National Guard, and the gendarmerie. Information sharing occurred among the law enforcement agencies of SCLCT, and prosecutors at the Judicial Counterterrorism Center were consulted during investigations.

Niger's long borders and vast swaths of harsh terrain make border security a challenge, specifically in the north along the borders with Mali, Algeria, and Libya. These borders are very difficult to secure and patrol, and are often exploited by smugglers. Niger attempted to improve its border security by increasing the number of border control facilities and requesting assistance from partners to construct and equip facilities. Niger continued to use rudimentary terrorism watchlists that it shares with the security services and at border checkpoints, although the lists were not frequently updated. The ability to conduct biographic and/or biometric screening remained limited to Niamey's international airport. Niger's air surveillance capability increased – Niger has the ability to collect advance passenger name records and is able to use these records in counterterrorism efforts. Information sharing within the Nigerien government is adequate but sometimes slow between services due to stove piping or a lack of communications equipment.

Resource constraints across the spectrum of basic needs – such as electricity, radios, reliable vehicles, computers, and other technology – and personnel, including resource constraints within the Ministries of Justice and Interior, made it difficult for the Government of Niger to carry out strong law enforcement and border security. Additionally, effective whole-of-government coordination in the fight against terrorism continued to present challenges, and capacity remained lacking in areas such as proactive investigations and non-confession-based prosecutions.

Throughout 2014, SCLCT arrested terrorist suspects on charges that included planning acts of terrorism, association with a terrorist organization, recruitment, and terrorist financing. Several proactive operations were conducted in the Diffa and Zinder regions, resulting in multiple arrests. At year's end, approximately 100 terrorism suspects were detained in Niger awaiting trial. Most of the cases were under investigation by investigating judges.

Niger continued to receive counterterrorism assistance from a variety of international partners, including the United States. The EU supported a 50-person team (EUCAP-Sahel) in Niger to build capacity in fighting terrorism and other organized crime. A number of other international partners provided security sector assistance in Niger, including France and the UN. Niger continued to permit French forces to be based in Niamey as well as in other locations to conduct operations such as ground and air surveillance. The U.S. government, provided terrorism assistance to Nigerien law enforcement – primarily through the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program and a Resident Legal Advisor from the DOJ.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Niger is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Niger's porous borders and historical trafficking routes make it easy for terrorists to transfer large sums of cash. At year's end, suspected AQIM and Boko Haram members were awaiting trial on charges of terrorist financing. In 2014, Niger's financial intelligence unit, CENTIF, continued to increase its activities. 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: Niger supported the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by contributing a battalion of infantry. Additionally, Niger worked with Mali, Algeria, and Mauritania at the General Staff Joint Operations Committee in Tamanrasset, Algeria. Niger participates in a judicial cooperation organization, the Sahel Judicial Platform, with other countries in the region.

Niger increased its efforts to improve joint patrols and operations with Algeria. Niger also conducted joint patrols with Nigeria and Chad, and increased cooperation with Lake Chad Basin Commission member countries to fight against Boko Haram.

Nigerien officials continued to participate actively in regional programs organized by the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Sahel and Rule of Law Working Groups, although Niger is not a GCTF member.

Nigerien officials hosted and attended multiple international meetings concerning international efforts to combat the threat of Boko Haram. In August, the U.S.-African Leaders Summit in Washington included Niger as one of the six initial countries participating in the Security Governance Initiative. On October 7, the Lake Chad Basin Commission summit took place in Niamey; partner countries Benin, Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon all pledged to field a Multinational Joint Task Force to counter Boko Haram.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Niger's strategy to counter violent extremism includes the Sahel-Sahara Development and Security Strategy (SDSS), which aims to improve security through access to economic opportunities and employment, especially for youth; access to basic social services; capacity for good governance at the community and local authority level; and reintegration of forced returnees from Libya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Algeria. The SDSS launched three years ago, but at year's end remained not fully funded; and therefore, results were limited.

Niger's SDSS, supported by USAID's Peace through Development II program, helped reduce the risk of instability and increase resiliency to violent extremism through such activities strengthening moderate, non-extremist voices through radio, social media, and civic education; and working with religious leaders who promote religious tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict.

The Resilient Voices program, supported by the U.S. government, uses credible Nigerien voices to promote peace, tolerance, and respect for Nigerien identity.

In 2014, the Nigerien Ministry of Justice created a new position of Director of Reinsertion and Rehabilitation within its prison administration. While some very basic vocational training programs in prisons exist, there were no programs yet that focused specifically on rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist prisoners into mainstream society in 2014.


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