Overview: In 2016, terrorist groups active in Niger included Boko Haram (BH), al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), ISIS, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Ansar al Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front. BH and ISIS-West Africa terrorists repeatedly crossed the border from Nigeria to launch multiple attacks in the Diffa Region of Niger, leading to numerous civilian and security forces deaths. Terrorists also crossed the Mali border to attack civilian and security sites in the Tillabery and Tahoua regions. The Government of Niger redeployed some military and law enforcement resources to this area from the Diffa Region.
Suspected members of AQIM and other terrorist organizations continued to transit through the vast northern part of Niger in the areas bordering Algeria, Chad, Libya, and Mali. Weapons and contraband were moved through these areas, some of which were interdicted by the Nigerien military. With foreign assistance, the Nigerien military continued to increase its capability to patrol, collect information, and interdict terrorists 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 participated in the Security Governance Initiative, focusing on developing a national security review and strategic framework, aligning existing human and material resources more efficiently to address short- and long-term security needs, and improved coordination and communication of security policies to the public.
2016 Terrorist Incidents: There were dozens of localized attacks in the Diffa Region, many leading to loss of life, injury, and loss of property. Attacks included:
On June 3 and 6, BH terrorists attacked Bosso town in Diffa, killing 32 soldiers.
On June 16, BH terrorists attacked Ngagam village in Diffa, killing seven gendarmes and looting grain supplies.
On September 10, unknown assailants attacked the Tabareybarey refugee camp in Tillabery Region, killing one 18-year-old female refugee and one five-year-old male refugee.
On October 6, unknown assailants attacked a security outpost in Tazalit refugee site in Tahoua region, killing 22 defense and security forces.
On October 14, unknown assailants kidnapped a U.S. citizen resident in Niger from his home in Tahoua region.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Niger's laws criminalize acts of terrorism consistent with international instruments on terrorism. Niger's interagency counterterrorism investigative entity, the Central Service for the Fight against Terrorism (SCLCT), includes a separate operational cell in the regional capital of Diffa, where the majority of terrorist attacks occur.
The law enforcement and security services of Niger were actively engaged in detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism on Nigerien territory; however, a lack of sufficient manpower, funding, and equipment made this more difficult. Counterterrorism investigations in Niger are primarily the responsibility of the SCLCT, comprising 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.
Niger's long borders and areas of harsh terrain made effective border security a challenge, specifically in the north along the borders with Algeria, Libya, and Mali. 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 Government of Niger continued to partner with the United States by screening travelers using the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES).
Information sharing within the Government of Niger is 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, technology, and personnel, along with resource constraints within the Ministries of Justice and Interior, made it difficult for the Government of Niger to provide 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 2016, the SCLCT arrested terrorist suspects on charges that included planning acts of terrorism, association with a terrorist organization, recruitment, and terrorist financing. At year's end, approximately 1,400 terrorism suspects were detained in Niger awaiting trial, including at least 70 minors. Most of the cases were under review by investigating judges. While the law prohibited torture and degrading treatment or punishment in custody, there were reports security forces beat and abused detainees. Security officials reportedly inflicted severe pain and suffering on detainees in Diffa Region to secure information.
Niger continued to receive counterterrorism assistance from a variety of international partners, including the United States, the European Union, France, and the United Nations. 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. In 2016, Niger and Germany concluded negotiations to base German medical support services in Niamey in support of operations in northern Mali. The United States provided terrorism assistance to Nigerien law enforcement – primarily through the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program; a Resident Legal Advisor from the Department of Justice; and the Global Security Contingency Fund, a joint interagency program between the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, and State.
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 is also a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union. Niger's FIU, CENTIF, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Niger has adopted a regulation to freeze funds linked to terrorist activities. Pursuant to Niger's Code of Criminal Procedure, bank secrecy cannot be invoked before the courts and any assets suspected of or identified as belonging to a terrorist group may be frozen. Niger's counterterrorism law (Law No. 2008-18) incorporates various offenses related to terrorism, including offenses related to the financing of terrorism.
Despite its efforts, Niger continued to face several challenges in its efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, as its porous borders and historical trafficking routes make it easy for terrorists to smuggle large sums of cash. At year's end, suspected AQIM and BH members were awaiting trial on charges of terrorist financing.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: Although Niger does not have a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) National Action Plan, Niger's strategy to counter violent extremism included the Sahel-Sahara Development and Security Strategy (SDSS), which aimed to improve security through access to economic opportunities and employment, especially for youth; access to basic social services; good governance at the community and local authority level; and reintegration of forced returnees from Algeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Libya, and Nigeria. Launched five years ago, Niger's SDSS, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, helped reduce the risk of instability and increased resiliency to violent extremism through such activities as 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.
Most CVE programming in Niger is driven by international partners and NGOs.
International and Regional Cooperation: Niger deployed an infantry battalion to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. Additionally, Niger worked with Algeria, Mali, 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, conducted joint patrols with Chad and Nigeria, and increased its cooperation with Lake Chad Basin Commission member countries to fight against BH. Nigerien officials hosted and attended multiple international meetings concerning international efforts to counter the threat of BH. Niger is a member of and contributes troops to the Lake Chad Basin Multinational Joint Task Force along with Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria.
Niger is an active member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. Nigerien officials continued to participate actively in regional programs organized by the Global Counterterrorism Forum's Sahel Region Capacity-Building Working Group and the Criminal Justice/Rule of Law Working Group.
The G-5 Sahel was created in February 2014 to enable region-wide collaboration on the Sahel-Sahara region's political and security situation, and Niger participated in G-5 Sahel meetings held among the five member countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, along with representatives of the African Union, the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.