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THE CHANGING NATURE OF TERRORISM IN WEST AFRICA: A STUDY OF NEW TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS IN THE REGION (NIGERIA, CHAD, MALI, BURKINAFASO)
In West Africa, there is significant concern about the rise of terrorism. This is manifested by the number of terrorist attacks in some West African countries that have resulted in large human casualties and the destruction of property. The source of funding for terrorist activities has equally been of concern in the sub-region. The phenomenon is underpinned by several factors, including the presence of large, informal, cash-based economies, political instability, ethnic and communal violence, pervasive corruption, widespread poverty, gross unemployment, and underemployment. Significantly, terrorist groups and their financiers drive funds from both licit and illicit activities, and move them through formal and informal channels to support their activities. All of these factors have adverse effects on peace, security, and development in the sub-region.
The devastating effects of terrorism and terrorist financing have provoked strong interest among the authorities and national governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on countering the threat, based on a clear understanding of the modus operandi of terrorist groups and their financiers. Accordingly, this typologies study aims to discover the methods used by terrorists, terrorist groups, and their supporters to collect, transfer, and utilise funds for their activities. It aims to provide a deeper understanding of the methods used by financiers to assist terrorists in carrying out acts of terrorism. The study also aims to provide information on terrorist financing methods to assist competent authorities and reporting entities in their responsibilities to combat terrorist financing. In this regard, the study provides case studies, from which key indicators and red flags have been generated to help policymakers and regulatory and enforcement authorities as well as reporting entities to understand better the nature and dynamics of terrorist financing in the sub-region.
As a prelude to this typology study, and recognizing the challenges of getting information on the subject matter in the sub-region, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) commissioned five experts, one each in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal, to carry out a background study on terrorism and terrorist financing in their countries. These countries were selected based on the prevailing incidences of terrorism or its effects on them compared to other GIABA member States.
A workshop on terrorist financing in West Africa typologies was organised to review the reports of the experts and analyse the case studies gathered during the joint FATF/GIABA Expert Meeting on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Typologies organised in Dakar, Senegal from 26 to 28 November 2012. The workshop discussed, among others, the methods, and techniques employed by terrorists in collecting, transferring, and utilizing funds with reference to specific cases.
Analysis of the cases and questionnaires revealed a number of trends that may seriously threaten the security and stability of West Africa. Among these trends are:
the upsurge in acts of terrorism and terrorist financing in the sub-region,
emerging linkages between West African extremist groups and international terrorist organisations and provision of support by the latter to the former,
the use of both legitimate and illegitimate means by terrorists and terrorist groups to raise funds for personal upkeep, recruitment, purchase of tools and equipment, the dissemination of propaganda, and
the exploitation of formal and informal channels to move funds.
The use of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and charities as conduits for terrorist financing is also becoming more apparent.
A number of vulnerabilities were identified from the analysis of the experts’ reports.
Reporting institutions often lack the capacity to identify suspicious transactions related to terrorist financing.
Terrorists, terrorist groups, and their supporters take advantage of the large informal, cash-based economy to fund their activities.
Security and surveillance at various national borders are weak, compounded by numerous unofficial border cross points, thereby resulting in the infiltration of terrorists and illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
Domestic inter-agency co-operation and collaboration, as well as information sharing among ECOWAS member States remain weak and thus providing an enabling environment for the illicit flow of cash and SALWs across borders without being detected.
Counter terrorism authorities’ understanding of applicable laws is limited, which poses challenges for combating terrorist financing and terrorism.
As part of efforts to address terrorism and terrorist financing in West Africa, a number of recommendations were made to member States of ECOWAS, regional and international authorities, and development partners for implementation.
The first decade of the 21st century was dominated by terror and terrorists. No one man was responsible although the pre-eminent face was that of Osama bin Laden. The global jihad of terror struck from New York to New Delhi. The centre of the storm was South Asia, and the epicenter of the storm Pakistan. India was often ground zero. The terrorists started the decade with an attack right on the eve of the millennium. Terrorists from the Pakistan-based group Harkat-ul Mujahideen hijacked an Indian airliner en route to New Delhi from Kathmandu, finally taking it to Kandahar in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. One hostage was murdered. Former foreign minister Jaswant Singh has rightly described the operation as a forerunner for the 9/11 plot because it involved the same cast of characters brewing the stew; Pakistan-based terrorists, al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban and the ISI. Originally the hijacking was to be part of a larger al Qaeda-orchestrated millennium plot to include attacks in Los Angeles, Amman and Aden but only the Indian plot got off the ground. The plotters had intended that the plane explode exactly on the stroke of the millennium but Singh negotiated the release of the hostages before more lives were lost. The whole world changed dramatically on September 11, 2001, when al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and tried to strike the U.S. Capitol. Masterminded by a Pakistani, Khaled Shaykh Muhammad, and Bin Laden, 9/11 would lead to two wars, the collapse of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and a global war on terror. Countering Terrorism and Insurgency in the 21st Century analyzes the most significant dimensions of combating terrorism, including considerations of strategic and tactical issues (hard power, soft power, and counterintelligence); the need to thwart sources and facilitators (weak governments, ill-conceived foreign policy, and trafficking in drugs, guns, and humans); and the incorporation of lessons learned thus far from combating terrorism around the globe. Since the dawn of the new millennium, combating terrorism has become a primary focus of security professionals throughout the world. The attacks of September 11, 2001, inaugurated a new global era of counterterrorism policy and activity, led by the United States, while many countries—from Algeria and Spain to Sri Lanka and Indonesia—have redoubled their efforts to combat their own indigenous terrorism threats. In the Unites States, the counterterrorism goals identified in the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2006) can only be achieved through significant multinational cooperation. These goals are to advance effective democracies as the long-term antidote to the ideologies of terrorism; to prevent attacks by terrorist networks; to deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states; to deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror; and to lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures we need to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure our ultimate success.
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