Overview: Djibouti remained an active and supportive counterterrorism partner in 2014. Djibouti hosts Camp Lemonnier, which serves as headquarters to the U.S. Africa Command's Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. Djibouti's efforts to counter terrorism focused on increased training for Djibouti's military through the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, and deploying soldiers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) campaign.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: On May 24, two suicide bombers attacked the La Chaumière restaurant in a popular area in downtown Djibouti City. A female suicide bomber entered the restaurant and detonated a suicide vest in the midst of three tables situated in the bar. Immediately following this initial blast, a male attacker threw a grenade onto the patio and then detonated his suicide vest. One Turkish citizen was killed and more than 20 others were injured, some severely. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that it targeted Djibouti because the country hosts foreign militaries and contributes troops to AMISOM.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Djibouti has a legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related crimes and tries terrorists in criminal courts using its penal code.
Counterterrorism remained a high priority for all Djiboutian law enforcement entities in 2014, due to Djibouti's geographic location, porous borders, and the May al-Shabaab attack. Djiboutian officials arrested and detained individuals connected to the terrorist attack. At year's end, no dates were set for their prosecution.
Djibouti's law enforcement organizations consist of the Djiboutian National Police (DNP), the Djiboutian National Gendarmerie, and the Djiboutian Coast Guard. In 2014, all three organizations received equipment and training through the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, as well as the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone. ATA assistance focused primarily on counterterrorism instruction covering post-blast investigations, crisis response, and tactical operations. Djibouti's law enforcement organizations routinely interacted with U.S. government personnel, and the DNP, Gendarmes, and Djiboutian Coast Guard frequently sought U.S. input to identify potential terrorist suspects.
Generally, Djibouti's law enforcement organizations have personnel and units that have received training in complex investigations and crisis response. The majority of law enforcement units, however, lacked operational experience responding to terrorist incidents or significant crises. Specialized law enforcement units possessed some necessary equipment yet lacked sustainment training to maintain the skills they have been taught through ATA and ILEA.
Djibouti's most visible counterterrorism efforts were checkpoints and cordon-and-search operations within the capital city. There was also an increased emphasis at border control points to screen for potential security threats, which included the prohibition of any vehicle entering Djibouti from Somalia after the May 24 bombing. The Government of Djibouti requested and received assistance from the U.S. government to conduct a post-blast investigation. The Government of Djibouti also enhanced protection of soft targets, including hotels and grocery stores, but it is unclear to what extent this level of increased protection will be sustainable.
Djibouti adopted the Terrorist Interdiction Program's Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System in 2003 in an effort to secure borders and identify fraudulent travel documents. Djibouti has the capability to conduct biographic screening at multiple land, sea, and air ports of entry. Djibouti has regularly issued passports to non-citizen Somalis with close personal or business relationships to the Djiboutian government, as well as to residents of Somalia with no legal claim to Djiboutian citizenship.
While the airport and seaport are important entry points, the vast majority of travelers cross into Djibouti by land at one of three land border points, one of which is the Loyada border crossing at the Somali border. The DNP has control over border checkpoints and the Djiboutian Armed Forces has responsibility for patrolling the border. Djiboutian law enforcement personnel acknowledged the difficulty of securing their land borders as well as the coast. Officials at the DNP-manned checkpoints remained susceptible to bribes.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Djibouti's request for observer status at the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, was pending at year's end. The Central Bank of Djibouti houses a Fraud Investigation Unit (FIU). Given its very limited financial and human resources, the FIU is unable to perform its core functions and instead focuses on banking supervision. The FIU has made no referrals of cases to law enforcement involving suspected terrorist financing.
Djibouti's Central Bank places the responsibility for staying updated on sanctions lists with the financial institutions themselves. Many of the financial institutions operating in Djibouti have software packages that include links to the lists of designated terrorists or terrorist entities from the UN, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the EU. The Djiboutian Central Bank monitors compliance with these lists through routine supervision and audits of the financial institutions.
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: Djibouti is a member of the AU, is headquarters to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and has deployed troops to AMISOM. In February, Djibouti hosted the Second Gulf of Aden Counterterrorism Forum, a regional meeting that brought together counterterrorism officials from Djibouti, Somalia, and Yemen to examine shared challenges and discuss best practices. Djibouti is a member of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Most of the Government of Djibouti's strategic communication efforts focused on countering radicalization of the youth population. Members of Parliament and representatives from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs held monthly meetings in Djibouti's low-income neighborhoods. The Ministry of Youth and Sports organized sports leagues to engage youth in positive activities. In addition, the Government of Djibouti, via the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, increased its legal authority over all Islamic matters and institutions to counter the potential for radicalization to violence in mosques.