Overview: Djibouti offered an important platform for regional counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts in 2016. Djibouti continued to contribute troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and its military (Forces Armees Djiboutiennes, or the FAD) and received U.S. assistance to train and prepare for this mission from the Global Peace Operations Initiative through the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program. Djiboutian Brigadier General Osman Noor Soubagleh assumed command of AMISOM in July. Djibouti is home to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa that includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley, and the African Great Lakes.

Camp Lemonnier served as headquarters to the U.S. Africa Command's Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and is the only enduring U.S. military installation in Africa. Djibouti's relations with Eritrea, its neighbor to the north, remained hostile after a 2008 border conflict in which dozens of Djiboutian soldiers lost their lives. To the south, Somalia's struggle with al-Shabaab continued to pose a threat Djibouti's security. The Somalia-based al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the May 2014 suicide attack against a popular restaurant in Djibouti City. As a result, enhanced security measures in Djibouti City remained in place throughout 2016.

Djibouti's proximity to important waterways, such as the Bab al-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden, make the country a prime destination and transit point for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers fleeing ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen. This influx of people taxed the government's resources and revealed vulnerabilities in port and immigration security procedures. The United States supported Djibouti's efforts to build counterterrorism capacities in the areas of border security, investigations, justice sector reform, and countering violent extremism.

Djibouti has publicly condemned violent ISIS acts, such as beheadings, as well as the group's focus on recruiting vulnerable youth and its use of Islam to advance its goals. Djibouti works closely with regional neighbors in IGAD to build sustainable institutions to counter radicalization to violence and violent extremism. Recognized by IGAD as being a low threat for home-grown violent extremism, Djibouti is eager to play a leadership role for activities in this field.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Counterterrorism remained a high priority for all Djiboutian law enforcement entities due to Djibouti's geographic location, porous borders, and the 2014 al-Shabaab attack in Djibouti City. Djibouti maintained a system of checkpoints and cordon-and-search operations within the capital city. Djibouti remained focused at border-control points to screen for potential security threats. The government maintained enhanced protection of soft targets, including hotels and grocery stores, which it first implemented after the 2014 attack. Djibouti law enforcement extended vehicle searches throughout the city in an effort coordinated through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Djiboutian law enforcement personnel acknowledged the difficulty of securing their land borders, as well as the sea coast. The Djiboutian National Police (DNP) controls border checkpoints and the FAD has responsibility for patrolling land borders in remote locations, with support from the Gendarme patrolling between border posts. Djibouti continued to process travelers on entry and departure with the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). While the airport and seaport in the capital remain 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, which was refurbished with U.S. funding and receives technical assistance through the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program.

Djibouti has a legal framework for investigating and prosecuting terrorism-related crimes and bringing terrorism cases to its criminal courts using its penal code. Djibouti's law enforcement organizations routinely interacted with U.S. government counterparts and frequently sought U.S. input to identify potential terrorist suspects. Djibouti's law enforcement organizations include the DNP, the Djiboutian National Gendarmerie, the National Security Judiciary Police (NSJP), and the Djiboutian Coast Guard. Through the Departments of State, Justice, and Defense, the United States provided Djibouti with substantial security assistance and counterterrorism-related training to build critical capacities within its security and law enforcement sectors. In 2016, the DNP, the National Gendarmerie, and the NSJP received training through the ATA program, as well as the International Law Enforcement Academy in Gaborone. ATA assistance focused primarily on building technical capacity for improved crisis response, counterterrorism investigations, and border security capabilities. The DNP, the National Gendarmerie, and the NSJP also received training through the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Legal Attaché office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The United States funds a Resident Legal Advisor based in Addis Ababa who also assists Djiboutian justice sector officials in counterterrorism rule of law issues. Separately, CJTF-HOA provided the FAD with two counter-improvised explosive devices (IED) pre-deployment training programs on how to recognize, find, counter, or avoid an IED for Djiboutian military personnel deploying to Somalia under AMISOM.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Djibouti is not a member or an observer of a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Central Bank of Djibouti houses a financial intelligence unit known as the Fraud Investigation Unit (FIU). Given its limited financial and human resources, the FIU has been unable to perform its core functions and instead focused on banking supervision. The FIU made no referrals of cases to law enforcement involving suspected terrorist financing in 2016.

The Central Bank of Djibouti 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 UN sanctions lists and the lists of designated terrorists or terrorist entities from the European Union and the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The Central Bank of Djibouti 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 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: Djibouti is recognized by IGAD as being a low threat for home-grown violent extremism; IGAD assessed Djibouti's internal terrorism threat as "symptomatic," requiring preventative countering violent extremism interventions. Djibouti is eager to become a regional hub for activities in this field and is host to the new IGAD Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which held its inaugural meeting in October. Djibouti assigned an advisor from the Office of the President in November to IGAD to serve as the Center's Deputy Director.

Separately, the Government of Djibouti, via the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, continued to implement a law on state control of mosques to address political activity from mosques and counter the potential for violent radicalization. The law required the conversion of imams into civil service employees and transferred mosque property and assets to the government. International partners, such as Egypt, have offered to train Djiboutian imams at the al-Azhar Institute.

International and Regional Cooperation: Djibouti is a member of the African Union, has maintained military forces deployed in Somalia, and has provided the commander of AMISOM since July 2016. Djibouti is also a member of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism. In April, Djibouti hosted the fifth plenary meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum Horn of Africa (HOA) Working Group and the Symposium on Youth and CVE. Co-chaired by the European Union and Turkey, these meetings focused on efforts to strengthen the resilience of youth in the greater HOA region and on the 2016-2017 work plan of the HOA Working Group. In September, the Djiboutian government hosted the IGAD Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on the development of the East Africa Region's Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Strategy at the MFA's Institute of Diplomatic Studies.


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