Overview: Although there were no reported terrorist attacks in Senegal in 2020, the Government of Senegal increasingly considers itself a likely potential target given ongoing terrorist activities in West Africa and instability in neighboring Mali. In light of these concerns, Senegal continued to work closely with U.S. military and law enforcement officials to strengthen its CT capabilities.
The risk of terrorist activity in Senegal arises primarily from the growing terrorist threats across the region and the prevalence of multiple active terrorist groups and political instability in neighboring Mali. These factors increase the risk for violent extremism spilling across the border into Senegal and threatening stability. Senegal has taken steps to combat this threat by contributing troops to MINUSMA and establishing new military camps along its eastern border.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Senegal in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant changes to Senegal’s CT legal framework in 2020. Senegal continued to enhance the capabilities of its Inter-Ministerial Framework for Intervention and Coordination of CT Operations (CICO). Formed in 2016, CICO is designed to coordinate the government’s response to terrorism.
At the end of 2020, Senegalese courts were considering at least three cases with possible terrorist links. One case involved a French National of Senegalese decent, also wanted by French authorities, who was apprehended while trying to depart Senegal with the suspected intent of fighting for ISIS. A second case involved a Senegalese national accused of threatening to blow up a Dakar French restaurant to protest the display of blasphemous images of the prophet Mohammed in France. The third case involved another Senegalese national arrested for making death threats against his father. Under police questioning, he admitted that after traveling to several northern African countries to advance his Quranic studies he joined a jihadist group in Libya and underwent accelerated training in military tactics. Additionally, Senegalese authorities arrested, detained, and deported a German terrorism suspect who was transiting through its international airport and was identified through an INTERPOL Red Notice.
Senegal’s gendarmerie and national police have specialized units to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism. Challenges remain to effective interagency cooperation and information sharing between and among the various governmental bodies that have CT functions in the country.
Senegal continued to improve its law enforcement capacity by participating in multilateral efforts, such as the GCTF’s West Africa working group, AU programs, and ECOWAS. Additionally, Senegal continued to work with the International Organization for Migration to promote cooperation and coordination between border agencies.
In 2020 the Government of Senegal reported working to ensure that five Senegalese women, accompanied by their 11 children, who have been in Libyan custody since 2014 on charges they were married to and supported Islamic State fighters get fair trials and, if convicted, serve their sentences somewhere other than Libya. The government of Senegal, however, did not commit to repatriating these women or their children to Senegal.
Senegalese officials remained concerned that gaps in border protection resources and regional cooperation created security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities were exacerbated by the absence of systems to verify travel document security, to screen travelers using terrorist screening watchlists, and to capture biographic and biometric information for travelers entering the country outside major ports of entry. In January the Government of Senegal signed a memorandum of cooperation with the United States to implement U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Automated Targeting System-Global with the National Police, paving the way for Senegal to capture and analyze API/PNR data in a move to implement UNSCR 2396.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Senegal is a member of GIABA. Senegal’s FIU, the National Financial Intelligence Processing Unit (CENTIF), is a member of the Egmont Group. In 2019, Senegal’s Ministry of Finance issued three implementing decrees to clarify and fill gaps in the provisions of its 2018 AML/CFT law. These decrees created the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee to strengthen domestic coordination of AML/CFT efforts, strengthen oversight of certain businesses and professions that handle large volumes of money (attorneys, casinos, and NGOs), and reorganize and enhance the autonomy of CENTIF. The committee, in its new composition, developed and validated a workplan for 2020 and a five-year national strategy paper (2019-24). However, implementation of the 2020 workplan was constrained by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Countering Violent Extremism: There were no updates in 2020.
International and Regional Cooperation: Senegal is a member of the AU, ECOWAS, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and TSCTP. Although not a member of the GCTF, Senegal participated in regional workshops and activities held by the GCTF West Africa Region Capacity Building Working Group. France and the EU provided financial support and training to reinforce Senegal’s CT and border security capabilities. In February, the Government of Senegal hosted an outstation for the U.S. Army’s Flintlock ’20, the largest multilateral CT training exercise in Africa, which in 2020 was headquartered in Mauritania. Senegal additionally agreed to host the overall exercise in 2021 and 2022.