Overview: Cameroon became a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) in 2014. Countering terrorist threats remained a top security priority for the Government of Cameroon, and the government worked with the U.S. government to improve the capacity of its security forces. Boko Haram took advantage of weaknesses in Cameroon's border security to conduct a number of terrorist attacks in the country's Far North and East Regions in 2014, including targeted killings and kidnappings of Cameroonians and foreigners. Cameroon responded to the attacks with an increased security presence in these regions.
In 2014, the United States provided a number of training programs on terrorism and security to help Cameroon address the Boko Haram threat in the Far North. In addition to bolstering the operational capacity of its security forces, Cameroon's prospects for preventing terrorism also depends on the ability of the government to address humanitarian concerns in its northern regions as well as socio-economic and political challenges – such as widespread youth unemployment, poor transportation infrastructure, inadequate public service delivery, endemic corruption, and political marginalization.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: In 2014, Boko Haram was responsible for targeted killings of Cameroonians in Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, Mayo-Danay, and the Logone and Chari Divisions of the Far North Region – including the villages of Kolofata, Fotokol, Waza, Amchide, and other localities at the border with Nigeria. Terrorist incidents in 2014 included:
On June 30 in Mayo Sava Division of the Far North Region, Boko Haram killed the village chief of Magdeme, who they suspected was collaborating with security forces.
On May 16, Boko Haram kidnapped 10 Chinese engineers in the Far North Region of Cameroon, where they were working on a road construction project. The assailants attacked the engineers' camp in Waza, and took the hostages to Nigeria before eventually releasing them in October.
On July 6, a group of 10 men on motorcycles stormed the Lamida of Limani in the Mayo-Sava division and kidnapped two teenagers, both students at the local high school.
On July 27, Boko Haram launched a cross-border attack on Kolofata and kidnapped over a dozen people, including the Lamido (traditional ruler) of Kolofata and the wife of Cameroon's Vice-Prime Minister, Amadou Ali. The assailants took the hostages to Nigeria before releasing them, along with the Chinese nationals, in October.
Between October and December, Boko Haram targeted civilians and military patrols in different areas of the Far North Region using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, stationary improvised explosive devices, and mines.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Certain provisions of the 1965 Penal Code were used to prosecute acts of terrorism. These include sanctions for efforts to undermine state authority, threats to public and individual safety, destruction of property, threats to the safety of civil aviation and maritime navigation, hostage taking, and the use of firearms and explosive substances.
Prior to 2014, Cameroonian law did not explicitly criminalize terrorism. However, in December, the National Assembly adopted legislation specifically addressing terrorism. The Law for the Fight Against Terrorism confers the death penalty for those found guilty of carrying out, abetting, or sponsoring acts of terrorism, including any activity likely to incite revolt in the population or disturb the normal functioning of state institutions. The bill was controversial, and members of the political opposition claimed that the definition of terrorism was too broad and could be used as a tool for political repression.
Faced with the security challenges at its borders with Nigeria and the Central African Republic, the Cameroonian government increased coordination and information sharing among law enforcement, military, and intelligence entities, including the General Delegation for External Research, the National Army, the Rapid Intervention Unit (BIR), and the National Gendarmerie. During the year, Cameroon received U.S. capacity building training to improve its counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts, including programs on the civil-military response to terrorism and the legal aspects of defense. These measures supported Cameroon's improvements in the detection of and responses to terrorist attacks, although further efforts are needed for the country to be able to more effectively deter terrorist incidents.
In 2014, Cameroon continued to issue regional biometric passports aimed at providing enhanced security for residents of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States zone. In response to terrorist incidents, Cameroon reinforced its border security by establishing more control posts and deploying additional military units, including the BIR, to the Far North Region of the country. The government also stepped up screening efforts at ports of entry and highways, using terrorist screening watchlists as well as biographic and biometric technology in some cases. However, the capacity of security forces to patrol and control all land and maritime borders remained limited due to inadequate staffing and resources, leading to some uncontrolled border crossings.
Cameroonian military and police units proactively confronted and disrupted the activities of suspected Boko Haram members. Several large arrests were made. According to reports, the police arrested 104 Boko Haram members, including 84 minors and 20 adults, operating in a madrassa in the Mayo-Danay Division of the Far North. The adults were allegedly teaching their students how to become messengers, combatants, and suicide bombers for Boko Haram.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Cameroon is a member of the Central African Action Group Against Money Laundering (GABAC) which holds Financial Action Task Force (FATF) observer status and is seeking to become a FATF-style regional body. Through its membership in GABAC, Cameroon has adopted a legislative architecture to implement anti-money laundering and financial supervision actions. It established a financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Investigation Agency, which processes suspicious transaction reports and initiates investigations. There were no prosecutions or convictions for money laundering during the year. Under the newly adopted legislation, any person convicted of financing or using financial proceeds from terrorist activities would be sentenced to death. 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: Cameroon actively participates in AU peacekeeping operations, and its military schools train soldiers and gendarmes from neighboring countries. Cameroon has pledged forces as part of the Multinational Joint Task Force to fight Boko Haram with neighboring countries.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Cameroonian authorities have taken a series of measures to counter violent extremism, including forming partnerships with local, traditional, and religious leaders to monitor preaching in mosques. The Government of Cameroon partnered with faith-based organizations such as the Council of Imams and Religious Dignitaries of Cameroon (CIDIMUC) to educate citizens on the dangers of radicalization and violent extremism, promote religious tolerance, and present religion as a factor for peace. This objective was furthered through targeted messaging in mosques, special prayer sessions, press releases, and through roundtable discussions and conferences bringing together people from various religious backgrounds. One of CIDIMUC's strategies has been to work for improving the living conditions of imams.