Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 1 - Djibouti

Overview: Djibouti remained a critical partner for the United States military and the region in the fight against terrorism. Since 2002, Djibouti has hosted Camp Lemonnier, the headquarters of AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the only enduring U.S. military installation in Africa. The Djibouti-based Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE) expanded operations in Djibouti and in the region by providing CVE training, research, and resources. Djibouti’s Armed Forces also continued participation in the U.S.-funded Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program and deployed soldiers to the AMISOM campaign.

As in previous years, Djiboutian government officials, particularly law enforcement and members of the High Islamic Council, worked closely to identify and address terrorist activity. Djibouti joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017.

2019 Terrorist Attacks: There were no terrorist incidents reported in Djibouti in 2019.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant terrorism‑related legislative changes in 2019. The government used CT legislation to suppress anti-government criticism by detaining and prosecuting political opposition figures and other activists.

Djibouti’s law enforcement organization is composed of the Djiboutian National Police (DNP), the Djiboutian National Gendarmerie, the National Security Judiciary Police, and the Djiboutian Coast Guard. The DNP controls border checkpoints and Djibouti’s armed forces are responsible for patrolling land borders in remote locations, with support from the Gendarme patrolling between border posts. Djibouti continued to process travelers on entry and departure at its international airport and seaport with PISCES. While the airport and seaport remain important entry points, the vast majority of travelers cross into Djibouti by land at one of three land border points, one of which is the Loyada crossing at the Somali border.

The National Anti-Terrorism Taskforce held several terrorism-related exercises to respond to and prevent terrorist attacks at popular landmarks such as hotels. The taskforce continued its collaboration with the foreign militaries stationed in Djibouti.

In 2019, the Ministry of Justice created a national commission of experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ICEPCVE to finalize work on a national strategy to combat terrorism.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Djibouti is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a FATF-style regional body. In 2019, Djibouti’s FIU (SRF) organized four events on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT):

  • Two workshops on AML/CFT with the Center on Cooperation and Security Studies in October 2019.
  • Two trainings for relevant personnel in the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Budget, and the Ministry of Economy in partnership with the European Union, FATF, the Egmont Centre of FIU Excellence and Leadership, France, the International Monetary Fund, and IGAD.
  • The signing of an MOU by SRF on the exchange of financial information with countries in the region: Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania.

There were no published law enforcement cases involving suspected terrorist financing in 2019, although SRF referred several cases of money laundering to law enforcement authorities.

Countering Violent Extremism: From July 1-3, 2019, ICEPCVE conducted a three-day CVE workshop, which brought together 25 religious leaders from the region to discuss their role in preventing religious intolerance at the community level. Participants created multilingual public service announcements that were shared across the region to promote religious tolerance. From 2018-2019, ICEPCVE used a U.S. government grant to solicit CVE research from academics in East Africa, providing $5,000 sub-grants to independent researchers to conduct CVE studies in their respective countries. The research was concluded in December 2019 and will be presented at a regional conference. Law enforcement agencies continued to work with the High Islamic Council to identify and monitor activity that promoted terrorist ideology.

International and Regional Cooperation: In 2019, there were no significant changes. Djibouti hosts IGAD’s headquarters offices and secretary general. The Djiboutian military continued its participation in AMISOM, which includes military forces from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.