Country Report on Terrorism 2013 - Chapter 2 - Cameroon

Overview: The Government of Cameroon considers countering terrorism and violent extremism a top security priority, and worked with the United States in 2013 to improve the capacity of its security forces. The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram (BH) took advantage of weaknesses in Cameroon’s border security and conducted several terrorist acts in Cameroon’s far north region in 2013, including targeted killings and kidnappings of Cameroonians and expatriates. Cameroon responded to the attacks with an increased security presence in its northern regions.

2013 Terrorist Incidents: In 2013, BH was responsible for targeted killings of Cameroonians and Nigerians living in Cameroon in the villages of Kouseri and Kolofata. The exact number of casualties attributable to BH is unknown. BH operatives were involved in the following incidents:

  • In February, BH claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a family of seven French citizens in the far north region of Cameroon. BH assailants seized the family near Waza National Park and took the hostages to Nigeria before they were eventually released two months later. There were no casualties. The media reported that a ransom was paid to secure their release.
  • In November, BH members kidnapped a French priest near the town of Koza, in the far north region of Cameroon. The assailants invaded the priest’s home and took him to Nigeria before releasing him six weeks later. The conditions required to secure his release are unknown.
  • In December, BH gunmen attacked civilians in several areas of the far north region.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Cameroon relies on various provisions in its penal code to respond to possible terrorist acts. These include sanctions for efforts to undermine state authority, threats to public and individual safety, the destruction of property, threats to the safety of civil aviation and maritime navigation, hostage taking, and the regulation of firearms and explosive substances.

Significant political will to combat terrorism exists in Cameroon, but efforts were hampered by limited capabilities, corruption, and a lack of coordination among Cameroonian law enforcement and security forces. Cameroon’s law enforcement entities involved in counterterrorism activities include the general Army, the Battalion d'Intervention Rapide (BIR), and the Gendarme. Although recent terrorist threats have targeted the far north region of Cameroon, there is no dedicated border police unit; rather, the border police are rotated into duty from the general police force. Gendarmes and police are often the initial responders to terrorist situations, but the BIR maintains superior counterterrorism capabilities and is often called upon to provide support to potential terrorist incidents. Once the situation is secure, control of security incidents is returned to local police units for appropriate action. Cooperation among law enforcement entities is in need of improvement.

In 2013, Cameroon received U.S. training to improve its counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts. The U.S. government has provided training to Cameroon in counterterrorism tactics, first aid, land navigation, and advanced marksmanship. Training is conducted with Cameroonian security forces, and has contributed to numerous arrests of suspected BH terrorists. The training also emphasizes professionalism of security forces and humanitarian assistance, which leads to trust within the local population.

In August 2013, Cameroon launched production of a regional biometric passport to facilitate the free movement of people and provide enhanced security for residents of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) zone. In response to terrorist incidents in 2013, Cameroon also reinforced its border security by establishing control posts and deploying additional military units and gendarmes to the far north region of the country.

Cameroonian military and police units proactively confronted and disrupted suspected members of BH in the far north region. Some suspects that fled on motorbike to neighboring Nigeria were arrested or killed by Cameroonian civilians or law enforcement. However, there were no terrorism-related prosecutions by the end of 2013.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Cameroon is a member of the Central African Action Group against Money Laundering (GABAC), which enjoys Financial Action Task Force observer status. Through its membership in CEMAC, Cameroon has adopted a legislative architecture to address the issues of anti-money laundering and financial supervision. It has a financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Investigation Agency (ANIF), which processes suspicious transaction reports and initiates investigations. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Cameroon actively participates in AU peacekeeping operations, and its military schools train soldiers and gendarmes from neighboring countries. Cameroonian naval and special operations forces work with their counterparts from Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea and improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. While cooperation with Nigeria had been mainly at the working level between unit commanders, there are increasing signs of willingness to cooperate with Nigeria on counterterrorism, as evidenced by participation in U.S.-sponsored regional exercises.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Cameroonian authorities have taken a series of measures to address radicalization to violence and to counter violent extremism, including participating in meetings with local administrative and religious officials, and forming partnerships with local, traditional, and religious leaders to monitor preaching in mosques.