Niger is one of the core Sahel countries hit by instability and terrorism. Its wide and porous borders have put Niger at the centre of the Sahel crisis, and it is one of the most vulnerable countries to radical Islamism and terrorism. This fragility was manifested recently with high-profile terrorist attacks, including simultaneous suicide bombings in Arlit and Agadez in May, which killed 22 soldiers, and an attack at the central prison in the capital Niamey in June, killing two prison warders. Early in 2013, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted a Political Declaration and Common Position Against Terrorism and an ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Implementation Plan, which prioritise the fight against terrorism and set out a regional programme that gives emphasis to capacity-building and regional cooperation. As part of implementing this strategy, the ECOWAS Commission and ISS are partnering to strengthen the capacity and operational capabilities of states in the region to prevent and combat terrorism.
This training course was designed as a general introduction aimed at enhancing national awareness on counter-terrorism issues, as well as strengthening the capacity and expertise of those responsible for law enforcement.
The contents and curriculum were based on the ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Training Manual, and the following issues were covered:
- The concept of terrorism and general terrorism trends at national, regional, continental and international levels
- The legal obligations of the country and the strategies for implementing national, regional, continental and international counter-terrorism legal instruments
- Cooperation with international institutions for the prevention and the fight against terrorism
- Border control and monitoring, particularly in regard to cross-border cooperation with neighboring countries in the identification and management of terrorist threats
- Options and strategies to deal with different situations of terrorism, including bombs and explosives
- Techniques to intercept, prevent, and combat terrorism
- International cooperation
The course drew upon expertise from a range of practitioners and technical experts, including:
- Marc Porret, from the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), who discussed the international legal framework on countering terrorism
- Benoit Konan, an expert on the suppression of terrorist financing from the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering (GIABA) in West Africa, who discussed money laundering and the financing of terrorism
- Yves Kouassi, an expert on the role of the police and the effective use of the Interpol system in the prevention and combating of terrorism, from the Interpol Regional Bureau for West Africa
- Dr Wafula Okumu, an expert on border security in Africa and how the securitisation of borders could contribute to the prevention and combating of terrorism, from the African Union (AU) Border Programme