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JOINT REPORTS ON TERRORISM IN THE SAHEL

The Sahel is a highly complex environment where a large variety of Terrorist and Violent Extremist Organizations (TVEOs) continue to challenge the state authorities for supremacy. This has led to it becoming one of the most volatile regions on the African continent in recent years. The root causes of this instability are many and complex. Nonetheless, a common characteristic which fuels the TVEOs is that many of their activities are cross-border and affect large areas of the Sahel.

This page includes periodical updates on the Facts and Figures on Terrorism in the Sahel. These reports are the outcomes of the joint research project between The African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) of the African Union (AU) and the NATO Strategic Direction South - Hub (the Hub).
The research project focuses on the G5 Sahel Countries, comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Two categories of TVEO can be identified in the G5 Sahel countries, based on their ideology and allegiances: those affiliated with al-Qaeda (AQ)  and those affiliated with the Islamic State (Daesh).

The reports are published periodically, currently on a four-month basis. In order to make the analysis as accurate as possible and to allow for the best comparisons, each report incorporates the data and findings of previous reports. In accordance with the scheme below.

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3rd Report.

Periods

  • Period A: Jan 2019 - April 2019
  • Period B: May 2019 - Aug 2019
  • Period C: Sept 2019 - Dec 2019
  • Period D: Jan 2020 - Apr 2020
  • Period E: May 2020 - Aug 2020
  • Period F: Sep 2020 – Dec 2020

Highlights

2020 was a year of contrasting aspects in the Fight against Terrorism in the Sahel. It was the most intense year in terms of terrorist activity and also a period when the geographical dispersion of violence evolved notably. The lethality of attacks by TVEOs reduced significantly, disagreements between JNIM and the ISGS led to many clashes, following years of cohabitation and even cooperation. Finally, Counter-Terrorism (CT) efforts seemed to have been more effective.
The following more specific trends were also analysed:
  • An increase of violence in Niger (+51% during the year 2020 and +85% during the last four-month period).
  • Better security trends in Burkina Faso where TVEO activities reduced by12%.
  • The risk of an expansion of JNIM activities into the south of Mauritania or Senegal.
  • The presence of MLF in the border region of Kayes (Mali) was evidenced twice.
  • The risk of an expansion of JNIM and ISGS also in to the Gulf of Guinea countries.
  • The consequences of the military coup in Mali and the COVID19 pandemic.

2nd Report.

Periods

  • Period B: May 2019 - Aug 2019
  • Period C: Sept 2019 - Dec 2019
  • Period D: Jan 2020 - Apr 2020
  • Period E: May 2020 - Aug 2020

Highlights

Phase two of this joint Hub/ACSRT project shows how Terrorist and Violent Extremist Organization (TVEO) activity is spreading in complexity and geographically from the SAHEL towards the south despite collaborative counter-terrorism efforts.

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The security situation in the Sahel continues to degrade, a reality reflected by the increase in violent acts and casualties. Terrorism remains a major source of insecurity, but often overlaps with other forms of conflict, creating complex insecurity environments.

This study outlines:

  • TVEOs have slightly extended their areas of operations, which could imply new changes of strategic and operational priorities.
  • There has been an escalation of terrorist activity using different Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) in specific areas.
  • There is a risk TVEO activities will expand beyond the Sahel, in particular to the south, which could potentially affect the Gulf of Guinea, despite the increase in counter-terrorism operation effectiveness over the last four months.
  • However, disagreements between JNIM and the ISGS have provoked clashes, despite years of cohabitation and even cooperation, causing a reduction in their abilities to carry out attacks.
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1st Report.

Periods

  • Period C: Sept 2019 - Dec 2019
  • Period D: Jan 2020 - Apr 2020

Highlights

This document is intended to be the first of many tri-annual reports whose purpose will be to provide a more comprehensive vision of trends in terrorism across the region by way of progressive analyses, in order to create a broader and more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of terrorism over time.


Left photo: Military equipment enables the G5 Joint Force Sahel fight against terrorism. From USAFRICOM September 18 2020 @flickr.com
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