Tuesday 18 February 2020

US Offers Key Counterterrorism Strategy To Africa

One of the security concepts that has emerged within the United States over the last couple of decades has been the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). In the United States it is rare not to hear accounts in the media regarding actions being taken by the known JTTFs in New York and Washington, D.C.
The concept of the JTTF is unique in the design. Elements of the Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies work together to detect and respond to major security issues. The major successful operations have been detecting and disrupting potential acts of terrorism that were planned against various targets in their areas of operation. It appears that this idea is becoming more popular in Washington. They are seeking to expand it.

Recently it was decided by the United States to assist Kenya in organizing their own JTTF. This means that for the first time this concept will be utilized outside the United States. This effort will be coordinated from the US side by both the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The first group of Kenyans will receive their training at the FBI facility at Quantico, Virginia with the curriculum devised by the FBI under the auspices of the State Department Counter Terrorism Program.

One of the first questions that will be asked is why Kenya? Clearly there is a need for this assistance to be provided. The initiative to launch this program began after the attack against the Dusit2 Hotel in Nairobi in January 2019 which was claimed by the Somali Islamist Group Al-Shabaab. The situation in Nairobi is not the only concern that Kenyan authorities currently have at this time. Another flashpoint is Lamu County along the Indian Ocean coast and along the border with Somalia as well. 

One conspiracy theory that will be laid to rest right off hand is that this program is a knee jerk reaction by the Trump Administration to respond to the Manda Bay attack on Jan, 5th which resulted in the deaths of three Americans on the ground (one active duty the other two were contractors) and the destruction of several aircraft in an operation designed to deter the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Operations that are active assisting Operations in Somalia.

The next question will be which African Nation should be the next location to stand up such a Task Force? One of the first answers that should be garnered is Nigeria. The failure to address the Insurgency in Borno State by Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State West African Province) has led to the violence in the Middle Belt region of the Country. Most of the Security Apparatus in Nigeria currently rests in the hands of the Federal Government. Therefore there is little input on the State or Local level. Until this issue is resolved Nigeria will suffer.

The Sahel 5 States (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, NIger and Mauritania) could provide an interesting chance to host a regional JTTF. These nations have let it be known that they are leery of the current level of French Influence in the region and are actively seeking advice from other partners. This could be an interesting opportunity for the United States to lower fears of a reduced US presence in the region. 

But will Washington take this opportunity? That is the question….


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