Overview: The country remained an excellent security and regional CT partner for the United States. Despite continued terrorist violence in neighboring Mali and regional threats that included those against Mauritania, the country has not suffered a terrorist attack on its soil since 2011. Countering terrorist activity remains the top priority for the Mauritanian government, and Mauritanian military leadership underscores this message when appealing to donor nations for additional equipment and training assistance. The United States lifted restrictions on assistance to Mauritania related to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in October, which has allowed for the resumption of some U.S. CT assistance and training programs.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Mauritania in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Mauritanian government did not pass or amend any laws regarding terrorism during the year. Mauritania continued working closely with the United States to install PISCES at all of Mauritania’s land, air, and sea points of entry in an effort to promote border security by identifying, disrupting, and deterring terrorist travel.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mauritania is a member of MENAFATF. In addition to its having the Central Bank’s financial intelligence unit (known as CANIF), Mauritania has two national committees, the National Committee to Combat Terrorist Financing and the National Committee to Combat Money Laundering, which are tasked with improving internal government coordination on these issues. The Central Bank also began imposing new security requirements on money transfers to increase transparency on transactions. In November, Mauritania’s newly organized Counterterrorism Commission hosted a workshop that aimed to raise awareness on Mauritania’s international obligations in the fight against terrorism, including countering the financing of terrorism. The Mauritanian government also took some steps to regulate money transfers in the country’s large informal market, including by limiting lawful money transfers to those conducted by licensed operators.
Countering Violent Extremism: Mauritania continued its efforts to counter violent extremism, including through several partnerships with the United States. The Mauritanian government also continued to make efforts to repatriate and reintegrate former terrorists and returning foreign terrorist fighters.
International and Regional Cooperation: In 2020, Mauritania assumed the presidency of the G-5 Sahel regional organization, which is headquartered in Nouakchott and whose membership consists of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and Mali, and which promotes security, development, and governance within and across Sahel member countries. In June the Nouakchott-based G-5 Sahel Defense College graduated its second cohort, consisting of 44 officers from all G-5 Sahel countries. In February, Mauritania hosted U.S. AFRICOM’s second largest joint multinational military exercise, the special operations-focused Flintlock ’20. The exercise included 1,500 participants from more than 30 countries. Mauritania will provide airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to Flintlock ’21 in Senegal. Mauritania is a member of the following organizations that have CT equities: the United Nations, the AU, the G-5 Sahel, the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Program.