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Dans la continuité de sa démarche consistant à impliquer les autorités publiques dans ses réflexions, recherches et actions, Timbuktu Institute a procédé à la présentation du Projet Innovant des Sociétés civiles et Coalitions d’acteurs (PISCCA) au préfet de Dakar, Alioune Badara Sambe, ce mardi 4 septembre 2018. D’ailleurs, c’est le préfet, lui-même, qui a fait l’amitié, à l’équipe de Timbuktu, en se déplaçant pour la présentation du projet et, en même temps, visiter l’institut. 
La rencontre fut chaleureuse et cordiale. Elle a été l’occasion, pour l’équipe de Timbuktu Institute, de discuter avec le préfet de Dakar de la situation sécuritaire du pays et, de la commune dont Monsieur Alioune Badara Sambe assure le maintien de l’ordre public. 
Sachant que le milieu sportif, notamment pendant les Nawétane et combats de lutte, connaît une violence régulière, le préfet a salué et positivement accueilli ce projet qui venait de lui être présenté et a fait part de sa disponibilité et volonté d’accompagner l’équipe de Timbuktu dans son exécution.
Rappelons que le projet PISCCA, soutenu par l’Ambassade de France au Sénégal, est porté par Timbuktu Institiute. Son objectif est, par le biais du sport, de sensibiliser les jeunes aux valeurs citoyennes et démocratiques mais aussi à la lutte patriotique contre toutes sortes de violences. 
Le projet, qui comprend des ateliers de sensibilisation et de formation ainsi que des tournois de foot, sera exécuté à Dakar, Mbour, Kaolack et Saint-Louis.

British Prime Minister Theresa May got plenty of attention for her trip to Africa last week. Videos of her dancing — one with secondary students who greeted her in South Africa and another with her dancing with young scouts in Kenya — went viral.

But May's dance-floor diplomacy didn't overshadow her larger mission in Africa, which was to forge business ties for a post-Brexit Britain. In Cape Town, she pledged more than $5 billion to support African markets and also promised that her country would overtake the United States to become the biggest investor in Africa out of the G-7 countries.

Cheta Nwanze, an analyst at the Lagos-based research firm SBM Intelligence says Britain is desperately trying to find new trade partners. "Because Brexit isn't working out as it had expected," he said. "Brexit is seven or eight months away now and they're so many contentious issues that will need to be resolved."

Playing catch up to China

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her own recent foray to Africa, visiting Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana, also seeking economic benefit. China has played the role of Africa's largest trading partner for the past nine consecutive years, and both Britain and Germany have a lot of catching up to do.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, is welcomed by Ghana's President, Nana Akufo-Addo, right, at the Presidential palace in Accra, Ghana, Aug 30, 2018.

According to British government figures, the country's total trade with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya — the countries May visited — amounted to $16.9 billion in 2016. That's less than 2.5 percent of the $712 billion in goods and services that Britain exchanged with the European Union in the same year, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Germany declared 2017 a key year for its Africa policy and hosted African presidents in Berlin at a G-20 summit to boost private investment. However, to date, Germany only has about 1,000 companies that are active in Africa.

In comparison, China has 10,000 firms in Africa. It has financed more than 3,000 infrastructure projects on the continent, building thousands of kilometers of highways, generating thousands of megawatts of electricity and creating thousands of jobs across the continent.

"China is challenging all the Western countries, even the United States. China has no historical background of colonialism [in Africa] so many Africans prefer working with China," said Bakary Sambe, a development and peace studies analyst in Senegal.

This week, several African presidents are in China for the 2018 Forum for Africa-China Cooperation, which China's Foreign Minister Wang Li described as the biggest summit of all time.

But, Nii Akuetteh, a prominent independent Ghanaian policy analyst based in Washington, D.C., recommends African politicians, businesses and civil society members be wary of both the West and the East.

"If I had my way, they would be far more vigilant and tougher against Merkel, against May, and even against the Chinese, because all these global powers are rushing to Africa now and they all claim that they love Africa and they want to help. Well, we all heard that before and it led to slavery and it led to colonialism," he said.

Stopping migration

Akuetteh said May and Merkel are motivated in part by a desire to stop the waves of African migrants showing up on Europe's shores.

"They are doing this because their populace don't like Africans. Merkel is very clear, that's why she's doing this — we want to create jobs in Africa so you all don't come to Europe," he said.

Merkel said she wants to work with these governments to tackle issues the three countries are struggling with, such as the Boko Haram insurgency and widespread unemployment.

One of the agreement she said was an MOU signed between German automaker Volkswagen and partners in Ghana and Nigeria. Volkswagen announced last week it would assemble cars in Ghana and make Nigeria an automotive hub.

Ayisha Osori, the head of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, commends this effort and says African leaders need to acknowledge the reasons why citizens are risking their lives to flee.

"It's a good deal to create more jobs to keep people away from migrating, coming over to Europe in less numbers. Looking at the people who try to cross the desert, that go by sea or by boat, what are they running away from? What is it about their lives that is making them to take such dangerous journeys?" Osori asks.

U.S. role?

In this scramble for Africa, the United States looms in the background, contributing mostly military support. The Brookings Institution says U.S.-Africa relations will not reach their potential if the executive office fails to provide diplomatic and policy leadership.

But U.S. President Donald Trump has shown little interest in the continent and angered many Africans with offensive remarks.

Though Trump has no announced plans of going to Africa, first lady Melania Trump announced in August that she will visit — without the president.

Timbuktu Institute pilote des projets en matière de paix et de prévention du radicalisme violent entre autres. Présentement, une de ses équipes travaille dans la préparation de la collecte d’informations qui seront la base des analyses du rapport à paraître en octobre prochain. L’équipe de Timbuktu va se déplacer sur le terrain pour mener des enquêtes dans les zones frontalières ciblées Sénégal et ainsi procéder à la collecte des données en menant aussi des entretiens qualitatifs.

Empêcher la radicalisation violente sinon la prévenir étant l’un des objectifs de Timbuktu Institute, ce projet s’inscrit dans cette ligne et va permettre de mesurer la compréhension, l’attitude ainsi que le niveau de prise de conscience des jeunes de cette question de l’heure. C’est dans le but d’accompagner efficacement et d’orienter les politiques publiques.

Le terrorisme, la radicalisation, les questions de migration sont des sujets qui interpellent directement la jeunesse africaine particulièrement. Comprendre les motivations qui poussent les jeunes à s’y engager, permettrait de faciliter la maîtrise de ces phénomènes et trouver des solutions tout en mettant en place des politiques de prévention.

Accordant beaucoup d’importance à l’approche holistique et à la primo-prévention, Timbuktu et ses partenaires donnent la parole à la jeunesse des zones frontalières afin de les impliquer directement dans la recherche de solutions durables et participatives.

The verdicts and sentences delivered on 19 July in the cases of 29 Senegalese citizens accused of planning to establish a terrorist cell in Senegal’s southern Casamance region were far from an unmitigated success for the prosecution.


A key defendant, Alioune Ndao, whom the state wanted to see jailed for 30 years, received only a one-month suspended sentence for the unlawful possession of firearms, while 15 of the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence, and sentences handed down to others were shorter than the prosecutors’ recommended jail terms.

 Thirteen of the accused were given prison sentences ranging from five to 20 years for crimes that included terrorism financing and criminal conspiracy. Lawyers for at least one of those convicted have said they will appeal.

 “To think that Senegal is safe from this evil would be a dangerous illusion,” prosecutor Aly Ciré Ndiaye said when the trial began in earnest in April (multiple adjournments followed the official start date in December 2017). “Dangerous because it would make us neglect the colossal efforts needed to dismantle the scaffolding on which terrorism finds strength.”

 Senegal makes for an attractive target for extremists because of its strong international connections, with military cooperation agreements in place with the United States and France, and its sizeable troop contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, an intervention opposed by many Senegalese. As the regional hub for numerous international institutions, Senegal is “a luxury target... like the jackpot for terrorist groups,” said Bakary Sambe, director of the Dakar-based Timbuktu Institute, which tracks violent extremism.

Islam in Senegal, which is followed by some 94 percent of the population, is dominated by a moderate, tolerant form of Sufism headed by powerful brotherhoods that have long been considered the country’s principal defence against extremism.But change is also occurring. Money is increasingly being pumped in from foreign states to build mosques and open Koranic schools, or daaras, which teach alternative interpretations of religious texts – more conservative Salafi and Wahhabi influences are beginning to take hold.Sambe believes Senegal’s school system is its greatest vulnerability. “We are one of the few countries in the world that does not have a complete hold on our own educational system,” he told IRIN. “There is a formal system controlled by the secular state and another in which foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia and Iran interfere.”

Imam of concern 

According to the prosecution’s case, the Casamance cell would have served as a base from which to carry out attacks against French targets and the Senegalese state. The court heard that the accused planned to extend the influence of this new so-called caliphate into neighbouring countries, including The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

Some of those in the dock were rounded up in 2015 during a large-scale police operation against what were perceived to be hate-filled sermons in mosques. Others were detained while travelling to, or returning from, Nigeria.

Ndao is a Salafist imam who until his arrest in 2015 preached at a mosque in the town of Kaolack, 200 kilometres southeast of Dakar. He was accused of being the spiritual guide and coordinator of the cell.

Ndao appeared in court in the centre of the line of defendants, dressed in flowing white robes that matched his white beard. The trial was well attended by his supporters, and the courtroom erupted when the verdict was read out, with disciples of Ndao either rising to their feet or throwing themselves on the floor praising God.

One such supporter was Imam Diene, who had travelled 100 kilometres for the occasion. “He is not a terrorist,” he asserted. “There are no terrorists here in Senegal – there’s no proof! Only when you have proof can you say there are terrorists.”

The jihadist threat in the region has strengthened following the merger in 2017 of a handful of groups operating mainly out of northern Mali, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), to form Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

 The group’s leader, Iyad Ag Ghali, confirmed in April 2017 that Senegal is on its list of target countries. JNIM has been behind numerous attacks in recent months, including a twin assault in March on the French embassy and the national army headquarters in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, that killed eight people and wounded 80.

Many of the defendants in the Dakar trial were accused of having links with Boko Haram, including the alleged ringleader, Makhtar Diokhané, who received a 20-year prison sentence for terrorist acts by criminal association. The court heard how Diokhané spent time with Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria before being sent back to Senegal with six million naira (around $20,000) to launch an affiliated cell.

Growing religious conservatism

Most of those convicted last month had travelled abroad to receive training from extremist groups, including Boko Haram and AQIM, but experts like Sambe warn it would be a mistake to ignore the rising influence of more conservative strains of Islam within Senegal itself.

Senegal’s northern town of Saint-Louis, once the colonial capital of French West Africa, is a prime destination for religious learning.

 It hosts a large number of renowned Koranic teachers, or marabouts, running daaras that attract students known as talibés – from boys as young as five to young men in their twenties – from other parts of Senegal and the wider region.

The daaras are unregulated by the state in terms of both their curriculum and living standards. “Anyone can decide to set up a school and start teaching the Koran,” said Baye Ndaraw Diop, a former director of a child protection service within Senegal’s Ministry of Justice.

Evidence of Salafi influence is becoming apparent in some daaras in Saint-Louis, including one located near the northern tip of the historic island town that is attended by more than 1,000 talibés. Although not a Salafist himself, the presiding marabout is known for accepting students regardless of their religious leaning, so long as they wish to study the Koran.

“We’ve noticed a change in behaviour among some of the older talibés in this daara,” said Issa Kouyaté, a campaigner working to improve the rights and living conditions for talibés. “They dress differently and refuse any kind of physical contact with women.”

IRIN accompanied Kouyaté on a visit to the daara. Feet protruded from tarpaulin-roofed rooms set around an open space where clothes were haphazardly hung out to dry. In keeping with the living conditions in many of the country’s Koranic schools, the students are housed in derelict buildings and bathe in the dirty river nearby; diseases such as scabies are commonplace.  

A dozen young men were gathered under a large tree outside their makeshift lodging. The tinny sound of recorded Koranic verses played from a mobile phone as one young man made tea, while another shaved the head of a younger talibé. The majority wore skull caps and plain tunics with trousers cut shorter than those customarily worn in Senegal – a sartorial hallmark of the more conservative forms of Islam.

The young men originate mainly from The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau and stick together. Their common language, Mandingo, is not widely spoken in Saint-Louis. One stated that their sole motivation is to learn the Koran.

State response

 The Senegalese government has won praise for its efforts to combat extremism in an increasingly unstable region. February 2016 saw the launch of the Inter-Ministerial Counter-Terrorism Intervention and Coordination Framework, known as the CICO. Chaired by the interior minister, the CICO is defined by the government as a “coordination and strategic monitoring mechanism in the fight against terrorism”.

“The CICO relies particularly on intelligence, and is focused on monitoring our borders,” a source in the interior ministry, who requested anonymity, told IRIN. The ability of the state to effectively monitor jihadist activity using social media was demonstrated by the arrest of Momodou Ndiaye, an accomplice of Diokhané’s, after the Department of Investigations tracked interactions via a Facebook group.

Some believe the state’s efforts are superficial, others that they go too far. “Senegal wanted to show the world and its donors that it was committed to the fight against terrorism,” said defence lawyer Assane Dioma Ndiaye on the conclusion of the trial. But, he continued, “there has been an exaggeration. It may be that some people in Senegal were tempted to respond to the call of terrorism. But the legal response was disproportionate.”

For Sambe, however, the Senegalese government is falling short and needs to put forward some pre-emptive policies to tackle violent extremism.  

“What we need now is an inclusive prevention strategy involving religious leaders, civil society, and the educational world,” he said.

 At the 2016 edition of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, President Macky Sall appealed for a “doctrinal response” to jihadist propaganda, a vague-sounding call for a coordinated response that goes beyond simply military action.

 But while Senegal is a secular state, politicians are heavily dependent on religious leaders at election time for securing votes.

 This helps to explain why religious institutions and the extensive daara system are largely unregulated, and the growth of foreign ideologies – whether benign or otherwise – is left unchecked. “There is complicity between the religious power and the political power,” said Diop, the former justice ministry official. Another shortcoming in Senegal’s response may be a general unwillingness to acknowledge the problem. The jihadist threat is not a common topic of discussion, and few Senegalese journalists cover the issue.

Kouyaté, the campaigner, is frustrated by this national complacency. “We need to de-taboo what is taboo,” he said. “It is obviously better to pre-empt than to heal, but here in Senegal the medicine only comes after death.”



Après le récent rapport sur les zones frontalières du Sénégal et de la Mauritanie, l’Observatoire des Radicalismes et conflits religieux en Afrique (ORCRA) de Timbuktu Institute poursuit la cartographie des enjeux sécuritaires dans ces zones aux réalités complexes. Avec l’appui de la Fondation Konrad Adenauer (Dakar) un ambitieux projet de recherche s’intéresse aux régions Sud, notamment Kolda au Sénégal et Labé en Guinée.

Depuis quelques jours, l’équipe de Recherche de Timbuktu Institute séjourne dans ces départements en partant de Vélingara et des localités voisines pour un projet innovant devant être conclu avant le prochain Forum International de Dakar sur la paix et la sécurité, en novembre.

Selon Dr. Seydi Djamil Niane, Chargé de recherches à Timbuktu Institute, « les autorités de même que les acteurs de la société civile surtout juvénile ont hautement apprécié ce projet dont ils attendent les résultats pour une meilleure compréhension des enjeux sécuritaires en lien avec les problématiques de jeunesse dans ces régions. Nos échanges étaient fructueux et nous avons pris bonne note des suggestions et conseils avisés des autorités sénégalaises et guinéennes ».

Dans une démarche inclusive et surtout pour appuyer les efforts des Etats dans leurs politiques de prévention, l’équipe a procédé à la présentation du projet aux autorités administratives, aux forces de sécurité et de défense et à la formation des enquêteurs sur les méthodes quantitatives et qualitatives.

Des entretiens qualitatifs ont aussi été conduits avec des acteurs religieux et de la société civile dans le but d’élargir ces consultatives devant aboutir à des recommandations opérationnelles au service d’une meilleure stabilisation de la région.

Les élections présidentielles maliennes se tiennent ce 29 juillet. Situé au cœur du Sahel, ce pays est toujours confronté à plusieurs défis transnationaux importants à relever. Analyse.

Vingt-quatre candidats, dont le président sortant Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, se sont lancés dans la course à la présidentielle prévue le 29 juillet. Donné favori, l’actuel chef de l’Etat a assuré lors de l’officialisation de sa candidature le 28 mai dernier qu’il s’attacherait «à relever entièrement et définitivement le triple challenge de la restauration de la paix, de la reconquête de l’unité et de la réussite de la réconciliation nationale»Des promesses ambitieuses et bien difficiles à tenir en un mandat de cinq ans tant les difficultés demeurent grandes sur le terrain.

G5 Sahel, Minusma, Barkhane : malgré un important dispositif sécuritaire, le pays fait face à une recrudescence des actes terroristes

Au cours des six premiers mois de 2018, le Mali a connu une recrudescence des actes terroristes malgré le déploiement d’un dispositif militaire conséquent depuis l’intervention française en janvier 2013 contre Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (AQMI) et le mouvement pour l’unicité et le djihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (Mujao). Dans son dernier rapport trimestriel sur le Mali, le secrétaire général de l’ONU a fait part de sa préoccupation sur l’évolution de la situation sécuritaire notamment dans le centre du pays.

"Depuis le début de 2018, le nombre d’attaques perpétrées au moyen d’engins explosifs improvisés a presque doublé par rapport à la même période en 2017 "

«Je suis préoccupé par la détérioration continue des conditions de sécurité au centre du Mali, caractérisée par une plus grande complexité des attaques contre la Minusma [Mission multidimensionnelle des Nations unies pour la stabilisation du Mali], les forces armées maliennes et les forces internationales, un nombre exceptionnel de victimes civiles et une augmentation des conflits intercommunautaires», s’est-il alarmé.

Et de poursuivre plus loin : «Depuis le début de 2018, le nombre d’attaques perpétrées au moyen d’engins explosifs improvisés a presque doublé par rapport à la même période en 2017 : on en avait en effet dénombré 93 au 18 mai, contre 55 en 2017. Perpétrées de plus en plus près des zones plus peuplées du centre du Mali, elles font un nombre croissant de victimes parmi la population civile».

Un triste état des lieux qui interroge sur la viabilité de la stratégie militaire adoptée dans le pays par le Mali, la France et la force onusienne de la Minusma afin d'éradiquer la menace terroriste. L’attaque fomentée le 29 juin dernier par un commando composé de six djihadistes issus du groupe de soutien à l’islam et aux musulmans (GSIM), proche d'Al-Qaïda, contre le très sensible quartier-général de la coalition antidjihadiste du G5 Sahel à Sévaré, dans le centre du Mali, témoigne de la capacité intacte des groupes terroristes à frapper leurs ennemis en plein cœur.

Près de soixante ans après les indépendances acquises de haute lutte, il est au minimum paradoxal que la voie de règlement des crises dans les anciennes colonies françaises d'Afrique passe encore par Paris

Interrogé par RT France, Louis Keumayou, journaliste et président du club de l'Information africaine, estime que la politique sécuritaire mise en place au Mali, avec notamment l’implication de la France, ne peut contribuer au rétablissement d’une paix durable dans le pays.

Selon lui, la réponse pour y parvenir doit être malienne et africaine : «La situation au Mali ne peut pas être résolue par la seule voie militaire. D'autant plus que les mouvements qui sont combattus mènent une guerre asymétrique. Quel que soit le nombre des forces amies qui essaieront de prêter main forte aux autorités maliennes, la solution ne peut être que malienne. De plus, on ne peut pas avoir signé des accords de sortie de crise à Alger et privilégier à ce point la relation avec la France, au détriment d'un rapport de bon voisinage avec l'Algérie. Les deux ne sont pas incompatibles. L'Afrique de façon générale, et les pays du Sahel plus particulièrement, doivent de plus en plus œuvrer à trouver des solutions africaines aux problèmes de l'Afrique.»

Et de s'indigner : «Près de soixante ans après les indépendances acquises de haute lutte, il est au minimum paradoxal que la voie de règlement des crises dans les anciennes colonies françaises d'Afrique passe encore par Paris. Les germes de l'échec se trouvent dans cette posture complètement anachronique et absurde.» 


Dimanche dernier aux environs de 13 heures dans le secteur Koiratao du quartier Sankoré, deux hommes armés non identifiés sur une moto ont ouvert le feu dans un domicile. Ils ont tiré à bout sur les 7 personnes qui s’y trouvaient. Le bilan est de 5 morts sur place. Les deux blessés ayant été admis à l’hôpital, ont succombé hier. Aussitôt informées, les forces de sécurité ont investi les lieux. La MINUSMA a aussi apporté son concours pour chercher des indices qui faciliteront l’enquête. Mis au courant, le gouverneur est rendu sur place. Il a suivi l’évacuation des blessés à l’hôpital et leur transfert à l’infirmerie de la MINUSMA. Il aussi assisté à l’inhumation des corps.

Il y avait également tous les chefs de la sécurité, de l’Armée, de la garde, de la gendarmerie et du MOC. Tous se sont mobilisés pour soutenir et compatir avec les familles endeuillées. Parmi les victimes se trouvent Sattar Ould Ahmed (un membre très influent du collège transitoire de Taoudénit), Cheickh Ould Rahma, Mohamed Ould Haiby, Tahar Ould Hanni (opérateurs économiques de la place), Jiddou Ould Hinnou, un des chefs du MOC à Gao.
Le même dimanche vers 13h 30, un obus est tombé à quelques encablures du camp de l’unité méhariste de la garde à Gossi et à quelques mètres de la route principale Sévaré-Gao. Les fragments ont touché le véhicule d’un particulier de passage. Bilan : 3 blessés dont une fillette. Les blessés ont été transférés à Gao pour recevoir des soins appropriés.
Pas plus tard qu’hier, des individus armés ont enlevé le véhicule de la station régionale de l’ORTM de Tombouctou aux environs 11 heures 45. Les braqueurs, au nombre de 4, étaient à bord d’un véhicule 4×4. Ils ont débarqué le directeur et le chauffeur, avant de s’éclipser dans la nature en prenant la direction Est de la ville. Ils ont également emporté les téléphones des occupants du véhicule.

M. S.
Source : AMAP-Tombouctou

DAKAR, Senegal — The epicenter of jihadism in Africa has long been the Sahel, the region that skirts the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert. Islamist groups such as Boko Haram have used the vast and relatively empty area to hide, recruit and organize.

Now the threat is increasingly spilling over into nearby countries. Terrorist attacks struck Ivory Coast in 2016 and have occurred in Burkina Faso repeatedly since then. Multiple suspected terrorists have been arrested recently in the West African nations of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. The latter, historically one of West Africa's most stable nations, is now holding its largest-ever terrorism trial, with 29 people accused of trying to create an Islamic State-style caliphate in the region.

Al-Qaeda affiliates in the area have also issued a new wave of threats against Western interests in West Africa, with one group identifying Senegal and Guinea, which have soldiers in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in neighboring Mali, as priority targets.

“Since the terror attacks in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, it has been clear that no country is completely immune. Anywhere there are embassies, international organizations, multinationals — and especially Westerners — there are targets,” said Vincent Foucher, a research fellow at France’s National Center for Scientific Research who focuses on the Sahel.

The presence of terrorist groups nearby has helped stoke the threat. Some of the suspected terrorists on trial in Senegal were trained in Nigeria by Boko Haram — and some even met and received money from the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, according to testimony given to investigators. Others had ties to extremist groups in Libya and northern Mali, according to court documents obtained by The Washington Post. And a late-2015 intelligence report obtained by The Post said instability made Guinea-Bissau a refuge for “international terrorists” from groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

As the trial in Senegal has illustrated, militants are returning from fighting with such groups in places like Libya, Mali and northern Nigeria, bringing ideologies, contacts and sometimes thousands of dollars home to start new cells. The investigations that led to the trial started in July 2015 thanks to a Facebook post showing Senegalese fighters who allegedly died while in combat alongside Islamist groups in Libya.

Would-be terrorists also enjoy easy movement between West African countries. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, allows citizens of those countries to travel around the region without visas, and border areas are often poorly controlled. Governments, meanwhile, are often unable to track suspicious people as they move.

“Because of its [political] fragility, [Guinea-Bissau] is easy to penetrate. People can stay unnoticed for a long time,” a senior Bissau-Guinean intelligence official told The Post. People suspected of having links with terrorist groups should be followed once they enter the country, he said, but the country’s intelligence services do not have so much as a car available to conduct surveillance operations.

“The state should have a prevention strategy. But the state is weak,” said Aristides Gomes, Guinea-Bissau's newly appointed head of government, to The Post in an interview.

Even ramped-up military operations in the Sahel may not solve the problem. U.S. and European troops are on the ground there with a regional force made up of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad and backed by millions of dollars in international funding. But the presence of soldiers could lead to a scattering of the terror threat in the region, according to Pierre Lapaque, who heads the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime in West Africa.

The explosion of militant groups that has plagued Mali since 2012 is still unlikely in the rest of the region. “Rather than networks controlled by the jihadist groups fighting elsewhere, there is a web of members and ex-members, sympathizers that jihadist groups can call on,” said Foucher, the researcher.

But there are worries that West Africans are underestimating the threat, while politicians are nervous talking about radical Islamists as they woo Muslim voters. “[Senegal] neglected the fight against violent extremism” to avoid alarming tourists and foreign investors, said Bakary Sambe, the director of the Dakar-based Timbuktu Institute and a coordinator for the Observatory on Religious Radicalism and Conflicts in Africa.

The current trial could lead to a shift in Senegal's approach to counterterrorism, with harsh sentences used as a show of force designed to deter potential followers. But experts say a fair trial will be instrumental in preventing others from joining them.

“Often, state repression, especially torture and extrajudicial killings, are factors pushing people towards jihadism,” Foucher said. “From this point of view, the fact that Senegal is granting an official trial to suspected jihadists is to be encouraged.”

Read more: 

Militant threat emerges in Egyptian desert, opening new front in terrorism fight

How to understand Boko Haram


Pour une meilleure implication des femmes dans la prévention de l’extrémisme violent, Timbuktu Institute en partenariat avec la Fondation Nauman, a organisé un atelier de deux jours à l’intention d’une quarantaine de femmes issues de la société civile malienne. L’atelier a été l’occasion pour les participants d’ouvrir les réflexions sur le processus de déradicalisation.  

« Pour une famille équilibrée, il est indispensable que la femme soit dotée d’une éducation de base bien solide pour lui permettre d’être à la hauteur de ses tâches. Cela va lui permettre d’élever ses enfants, de stabiliser son foyer et de consolider la paix au sein de la famille, mais aussi de toute la nation ». Fort de ce principe, Timbuktu Institute en partenariat avec la Fondation Nauman a décidé de mieux outiller les femmes maliennes dans la prévention de l’extrémisme violent, mais aussi de les impliquer dans ce combat.

Durant deux jours, un atelier s’est donc déroulé à Bamako autour des thèmes comme les fondamentaux de l’extrémisme violent, le processus de radicalisation, la question du genre, la question du déradicalisation et le rôle éventuel des femmes et des familles dans ce processus.

Selon Dr Bakary Sambe, directeur de Timbuktu Institute, cet atelier s’inscrit dans une optique d’opérationnalisation des recommandations d’une étude menée en 2017 par son institut avec l’appui de la Fondation Nauman. Il rappelle que cette recherche, ayant porté sur « Femmes, prévention et lutte contre l’extrémisme violent au Mali », avait identifié les facteurs menant à la radicalisation, les besoins de renforcement des capacités des femmes en matière de prévention de l’extrémisme, etc.

« C’est pourquoi la Fondation Nauman de Dakar a proposé ce séminaire de formation des femmes de Bamako en faisant appel à notre expertise pour en assurer l’exécution. Cette activité est donc une suite logique de cette recherche dans la mesure où celle-ci était une étape préliminaire qui demandait à être renforcée par des cations encore plus concrètes », ajoute l’expert Dr Sambe, également coordinateur de l’Observatoire des radicalismes et conflits religieux en Afrique.

L’un des points essentiels du menu de cette session portait sur le processus de réintégration des ex-radicalisés. Dr Sambe, après avoir souhaité une meilleure implication des femmes à ce niveau, a indiqué que celles-ci auront un rôle prépondérant au moment où le Mali se penchera sur cette question. « Devant un enjeu aussi important que l’extrémisme violent, les femmes doivent continuer à se battre, à mieux s’impliquer comme elles ont toujours fait ».

En plus, le séminaire a été l’occasion pour les participants d’échanger avec des experts comme Dr Aly Tounkara, enseignant à l’Université du Mali, l’experte des questions genre Mme Nana Alassane Touré et Mme Yague Hanne, chargée du pôle dialogue politique et du Programme du Mali au sien de Timbuktu Institute.

Timbuktu Institute est un think-tank mise en place par des intellectuels, universitaires, acteurs de la société civile, autorités politiques et diplomatiques déterminés à réduire progressivement le fossé séparant le continent des autres régions du monde dans la construction des concepts dominants qui façonneront l’avenir de l’humanité de demain. Basé à Dakar, l’institut est engagé dans la prévention de l’extrémisme violent de toutes origines, facteurs de guerres et de terrorisme dévastateurs et dans la promotion de la culture de l’ouverture et de la paix par une valorisation des ressources culturelles africaines en termes de socialisation, de médiation des conflits et de construction des sociétés ouvertes. Son partenaire dans l’organisation de cet atelier la Fondation Nauman, est une fondation allemande en faveur des politiques libérales, liée au Parti libéral-démocrate.

Sory I. Konaté

6 juillet 2018

PARIS - Days before French President Emmanuel Macron visited West and Central African leaders this week to talk security, Islamist fighters sent a defiant message -- a suicide attack on the headquarters of a five-nation force that is supposed to take the lead in fighting terrorism in the region.

Last year Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger agreed to set up the 5,000-member force dubbed the "G5 Sahel", urged along by pledges of training and support from France.

The countries have been hit by jihadist attacks that have steadily worsened in the past two years, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing hundreds of thousands of people -- prompting many to seek refuge in Europe.

Headquarters of G5 Sahel anti-terror force attacked in Mali

Macron's trip was aimed at bolstering the fledgling multinational effort in order to reduce the role played by French troops in fighting jihadists and criminal smuggling groups in the vast and arid Sahel region.

Around 4,000 French troops, known as the Barkhane deployment, have been pursuing insurgents since 2014 across the desert expanse, an area half the size of the United States.

The G5 Sahel force is also expected to eventually replace the UN's MINSUMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has deployed 15,000 military personnel and police since 2013.

Although French officials avoid any mention of a quagmire, analysts say the increase of deadly and more elaborate strikes has cooled any hopes of a quick return for the French soldiers.

"It's a reconstruction effort of their armies, but getting there is going to take a long time, at a time when the security situation is getting worse," said Alain Antil, head of the African Studies Centre at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

But the few missions carried out by the G5 Sahel so far have not been encouraging, not least because of real-time communication problems between the multiple forces.

Its full operational launch has also suffered several delays due to financial problems: little of the nearly 420 million euros (R665-bln) of promised funding has been received.

Militants in UN disguise explode car bombs, rockets at Mali bases

In the meantime, the French troops based mainly in Mali carry out relatively short operations from bases which regularly come under attack, their convoys at risk of landmines hidden along their routes.

Despite successes in neutralising small groups of jihadists and taking back control of some areas, they have so far been unable to curtail the threat of Islamist violence.

And French officials are well aware that the longer their soldiers stay in the countries, the risk that locals will begin to resent their presence will grow.

"The United States tried this all-security approach in Afghanistan, and the Taliban are now stronger than ever," said Bakary Sambe, a researcher at the Timbuktu Institute in Dakar.

"The French are doing the same in northern Mali, and the jihadists have not disappeared but are multiplying," he said.

'Hardly satisfactory'

G5 Sahal leaders have vowed to press ahead after last Friday's attack on the force's base in Sevare, central Mali, where a suicide bomber used a vehicle painted in UN colours to strike the building's entrance, killing three including two soldiers.G5 Sahel launches military operation in African scrublands

It was one of five separate attacks in Mali and neighbouring Niger which have killed 25 people in a week, as Macron was meeting with the leaders of the G5 nations in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on the sidelines of an African Union summit.

"They don't have the capabilities to take control of territory, but they are able to inflict damage," Antil said of the jihadists.

The French army's chief of staff, Francois Lecointre, had already warned in February that it would require at least 10 to 15 years to rebuild the Malian army alone.

"The situation developing in Mali is hardly satisfactory and we won't be leaving tomorrow, though that doesn't mean we're in a quagmire," he said.

Yet without sustained funding, even G5 leaders say the force will struggle to become an effective element in ridding the region of jihadists as well as the violent gangs of drugs and people-smugglers.

Sahel security failings leaves AU leaders worried

Major contributions have been pledged by the European Union and Saudi Arabia (100 million euros each), the United States ($60 million) and the United Arab Emirates (30 million euros).

The G5 countries themselves are paying 10 million euros each.

Over the past year, its soldiers have carried out just three missions with heavy logistical support from France, which some critics have derided as media operations.

The force may also struggle to win over the hearts and minds of locals -- last week the UN said Malian soldiers in the force "summarily" executed 12 civilians at a cattle market in central Mali in May in retaliation for the death of a soldier.

"The G5 force was seen by some as a possibility for France to disengage from the region, but I don't see it happening," said Sambe.