Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 1 - Senegal

Overview: Although there were no reported terrorist attacks in Senegal in 2019, the Government of Senegal increasingly considers itself a likely potential target given ongoing terrorist activities in West Africa. 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 from external and internal factors. Externally, the growing terrorist threats across the region and the prevalence of multiple active terrorist groups in neighboring Mali risks spilling across the border into Senegal and threatening stability. Senegal has taken steps to combat this threat, particularly in Mali, by contributing troops to MINUSMA. Internally, the promotion of “extremist ideologies” by a small number of religious leaders constituted the chief concern; however, these ideologies remain outside Senegal’s prevailing Islamic norms.

2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Senegal in 2019.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant changes to Senegal’s CT legal framework in 2019. Senegal continued to enhance the capabilities of its Inter-Ministerial Framework for Intervention and Coordination of CT Operations (CICO). CICO, formed in 2016, is designed to coordinate the government’s response to terrorism.

In 2019, the Superior Court of Dakar adjudicated and published written decisions on three terrorism cases, two involving online threats, and a third involving money transfers to insurgent hotspots in Mali. Resolution of all three cases involved international cooperation (two with France and the third with Mali). At the end of 2019, the court was also handling three cases with possible terrorist links. One involved the seizure of AK-47 ammunition stolen from a military depot in Dakar. The second involved 12mm ammunition purchased from a Lebanese munitions dealer in Dakar and destined for Mauritania. In both cases, the alleged drivers of vehicles seized transporting the ammunition caches reported making several similar trips before being apprehended. The third case involved a legislator caught in an undercover operation selling false currency, including West African CFA francs, Euros, and U.S. dollars, with a face value exceeding $50 million. The legislator was arrested after a cooperating witness identified him as the distributor in the false-currency ring.

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 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.

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, the effective use of terrorist screening watchlists, and the capabilities of biographic and biometric screening collection beyond those deployed at major ports of entry. To combat these vulnerabilities, as of December 2019, the Senegalese government agreed to sign in January 2020 a Memorandum of Understanding to implement U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Automated Targeting System-Global.

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 September 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 nongovernmental organizations), and reorganize and enhance the autonomy of CENTIF.

Countering Violent Extremism: There were no changes in 2019.

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. The French and the EU provided financial support and training to reinforce Senegal’s CT and border security capabilities. In November, the Government of Senegal hosted the Sixth Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, which continued to focus on terrorism and related regional instability.