Cablegate: Niger: November 25-27, 2008 Regional Seminar On Terrorism
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1133/01 3381128
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031128Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4724
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0743
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0203
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 1739
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 3460
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 NIAMEY 001133
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
STATE FOR AF/W (DENNISON) and AF/RSA
Paris for AF Watcher
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER SMIG SNAR PHUM ASEC MCAP KTFN NG XY
SUBJECT: NIGER: NOVEMBER 25-27, 2008 REGIONAL SEMINAR ON TERRORISM
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1. Summary. The Government of Niger (GON), in cooperation with the
Government of France (GOF), hosted in Niamey a regional seminar on
terrorism and trafficking from November 25-27, 2008. The GON
Minister of Justice (MOJ) and French Ambassador delivered opening
and closing remarks at the seminar, with the GON Minister of Defense
also in attendance. (Note: The GON Ministers of Interior and
Foreign Affairs, out of the country, were in Paris attending an
Africa-European Union conference on migration. End note.) The nine
additional West African nations participating in the seminar were:
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania,
Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. The Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS), INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC) and the GOF offered technical assistance for the
seminar. A few diplomatic missions (United States, the European
Community, Egypt, Algeria) and UN System organizations (UN
Development Program, the UN Population Fund) were observers. Five
workshops over the course of the three-day seminar covered the
following themes: illegal migration, terrorism and trafficking,
police and security force training, customs training and magistrate
training. The seminar participants called for more regional
collaboration and stressed the need for donor partners to provide
more training and equipment to countries in the sub-region to help
stem trans-regional criminal and terrorist activity. UNODC stressed
that the traffickers are the offenders, as opposed to victims of
trafficking. (Note: Embassy Niamey coverage of the three-day
conference was shared by Ambassador Allen, Acting Defense Attache
Pognon (civilian) and Foreign Service National Investigator Djibo.)
2. Trafficking and Terrorism Workshops. Participants spoke of a
nexus between trafficking and terrorism, such as how funds from drug
or arms trafficking can be and are used to support terrorism.
Nigerien speakers described Niger as a transit point for
traffickers, with drugs originating from Latin America arriving in
Mauritania and subsequently being transported across corridors in
the Sahel. Cannabis was identified as the primary drug trafficked
in Niger, and small quantities of cocaine (no figures were provided)
were reported to have entered Niger via third country nationals and
Nigeriens returning from overseas. Participants praised Niger's Pan
Sahel Initiative (PSI) company for its success against traffickers,
though Nigerien officials admitted that the PSI was only involved
coincidentally since preventing trafficking is not the unit's
primary mission. Poverty and unemployment were cited as primary
causes for illegal migration, with thousands yearly passing through
Niger primarily to Magreb countries, often bearing false documents
for onward travel to Europe and the United States. Participants
raised concerns about the criminality associated with illegal
immigration, notably trafficking of arms, drugs, explosives and
people. The Nigerien hosts recommended that governments revise
certain juridical texts with an eye to harmonization of laws within
the region, that all ports of entry be equipped with computers and
other technology to improve databases, that border control posts be
juxtaposed for better collaboration.
3. Participants viewed Al-Qaeda in the Magreb (AQIM) as the primary
threat in the region. Most participants agreed that the rebellion
in Mali was different from that in Niger. Nigerien participants
stated that the Mouvement Nigeriens Pour la Justice (MNJ) is more
than a group of rebels and drug traffickers, citing examples of
landmines being placed by MNJ rebels in northern Niger that have
indiscriminately killed many innocent civilians and stressing that
such an act would be considered terrorism elsewhere. Materials
seized after a GON military skirmish this past October with the MNJ
were flagged as evidence the MNJ continues to be a serious security
threat with access to lethal weapons. Finally, the Nigerien
presenters concluded that other groups that began with indigenous
rebellion, in time, transitioned to becoming terrorist groups by
committing terrorist acts and that MNJ potentially could do the
same. Information sharing and capacity building were deemed
essential for security services and military forces to effectively
combat trafficking and terrorism in the region.
4. In the country by country presentations, most representatives
reported concerns similar to those of their Nigerien counterparts.
However, with regard to trafficking in persons (TIP), Benin and Togo
participants indicated their respective countries face less of a
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problem than its neighbors. Further, a Cote d'Ivoire participant
noted his country ceased being a magnet for TIP as a result of years
A Senegal representative raised concerns of maritime TIP, notably to
Spain and the United States.
5. The UNODC speaker emphasized that the seminar was not about
criminalizing clandestine immigration, but rather about developing a
strategy to combat the problem. She stressed that the traffickers
are the offenders, that they should be pursued and their networks
dismantled, as opposed to punishing the victims of trafficking. She
suggested more training for law enforcement officers to ensure that
distinction is made. Perpetrators cited for targeting were
recruiters, transporters, lodgers, false document providers and
trafficking ring leaders. There was consensus that more needs to be
done to prevent tragic endings for trafficking victims.
6. Police, military and security force workshops. Recommendations
were made for training in each of the represented countries for
police, military and security forces on crisis management,
cybercrime investigation and use of technical equipment such as
global positioning systems (GPS) and border control management.
Participants expressed the need for more cross-border information
and intelligence sharing to enhance cooperation between law
enforcement officials and to combat international organized crime
and trafficking (arms, drugs, persons). It was recognized that more
needs to be done to build good relationships with local INTERPOL
offices within host countries. The French Attache made a specific
recommendation for more training and equipment for the Nigerien,
Malian and Mauritanian militaries.
7. In the magistrates session, specialized training in the
anti-terrorism protocols was deemed lacking in many countries.
There was a call for updated technology and materials and it was
suggested that law enforcement experts be made available during
military anti-terrorism operations to collect finger prints and
other evidence to support convictions. Building relationships and
improving collaboration among judicial bodies within the region is
viewed as key to creating an environment conducive to enhancing the
magistrates' efforts to fight terrorism.
8. Customs officers also noted the need for capacity building and
more information sharing among customs services in the subregion.
There was a suggestion to conduct joint operations and a call to
computerize customs check points. Training and material support for
customs officials was highlighted as being insufficient.
9. GON MOJ Dagra Mamadou's opening remarks. MOJ Dagra described the
MNJ rebels as terrorists that use land mines that have killed
innocent civilians, grieving the victims' families. A translation
of his remarks follows.
Honorable guests, let me begin by thanking you for the honor of your
participation in this seminar's opening ceremony. I'm pleased to
welcome to Niger our invitees, experts and participants who want to
accompany us in our efforts for this type of meeting. It's my
privilege to transmit to the Government of the Republic of France
all the appreciation of the Nigerien Government for the decisive
support that has made this seminar possible.
Mr. Ambassador, as you know, since the 17th session of the UN
Commission for the Prevention of Crime and the Penal Code in Vienna
in April 2008, the State Minister of Interior, Public Security and
Decentralization (SMI/PS/D), who represented the President of the
Republic, the SMI/PS/D) made a vow to organize in Niamey an
international conference on security in the Sahelo-Saharan region.
France had an attentive ear to this matter and volunteered to
provide its assistance for the organization of this regional
seminar. This act is illustrative, among many others, of the
excellent, strong Franco-Nigerien relationship, and I want, Mr.
Ambassador, to enthusiastically make special note of this.
Honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen, the seminar that opens this
morning and that will take place November 25, 26 and 27, 2008, is
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directed at the fight against terrorism and illegal trafficking of
arms, drugs, migrants and money laundering.
It is a regional seminar gathering some 100 participants from ten
West African nations. It includes magistrates, military officers,
security officers, the police, customs officials from Benin, Burkina
Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria,
Senegal, Togo together with their Nigerien counterparts.
The seminar themes deal with the fight against terrorism, the fight
against illegal trafficking, the penal system in the face of
terrorism and trafficking, clandestine migration, and training for
police and military forces.
The anticipated results are as follows:
first, to reinforce the national capacities to respond to illegal
trafficking and terrorism and improve regional cooperation in this
second, and this is a strong desire of the GON, that following this
seminar, that the donor partners create conditions for multi-faceted
assistance to African states represented here, to maintain a
continuous fight against terrorism and trafficking.
Our regional seminar will reach all its objectives if, over the
course of our session, beyond the exchanges among the participants,
and beyond our West African regional cooperation, some tracks are
explored and mechanisms identified with an eye to supporting the
states in the Sahelo-Saharan region in their crusade against the
demon of terrorism and the illicit trafficking that feeds it.
That is the major concern that we express to the French Republic and
all our development partners present here, and as we await the
Bamako Conference, next December, that will be consecrated, we hope,
to supporting our states.
Honorable guests, dear participants, this current seminar concerns
the fight against terrorism and all illicit trafficking (arms,
drugs, migrants, children and money laundering) that in general
feeds and maintains this planetary scourge. Because, in fact,
terrorism and trafficking spares no region or nation in the world,
it seems unnecessary for me to list the general developments about
these two phenomena.
On the other hand, please allow me to inform you about the acts that
Niger has taken in this domain and the concerns that equally hold
true for other states in West Africa, notably the Sahelo-Saharan
Honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen, Niger, like other member
states in the international community engages in the Global War on
Before, as well as after, the adoption of UN Security Council
Resolution (UNSC) 1373 of September 28, 2001, my country honored its
international engagements with regard to the fight against terrorism
and illegal trafficking. I will note a few among many actions
a. with regard to the ratification of international judicial
instruments, with the exception of one, Niger has ratified the
collective universal instruments in the fight against terrorism;
b. these same instruments have been incorporated in our penal code,
with specific measures relative to terrorism and financing
c. a National Committee charged with following measures relative to
the fight against terrorism has been in place since 2002 and its
last report addressed to the UNSC Anti-terrorism Committee dates
d. from February 11-15, 2007, Niger received a delegation from the
UNSC Anti-terrorism Committee, a delegation that positively rated
our country's efforts in its obligations following UNSC Resolution
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e. in the area of money laundering, a National Unit on Financial
Information Sharing (CENTIF) was established since 2004 in the
Ministry of the Economy and Finance and it takes on the tasks in
accordance with the dispositions of Statute No. 2004-41 of June 8,
f. in the matter of the fight against clandestine immigration, Niger
participates in the "Across Sahara" project financed by the European
Union that contributes to implementing policies to prevent and
combat illegal migration, as well as contraband and trafficking in
g. in that which concerns trafficking and illicit use of drugs, our
laws are extremely severe. In that regard, defense and security
forces, in general, our national army, in particular, have made some
seizures of important quantities of drugs, that were destroyed on 26
June 2008, on the International Day in the Fight Against Drugs;
h. from November 12-14, 2007, and from November 18-21, 2008, with
the support of the UNODC, Niger organized respectively for Nigerien
magistrates, then for Malian and Nigerien magistrates, two training
sessions on the "mechanics of international cooperation on penal
matters in the fight against terrorism."
Honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen, those are some of the acts
of Niger in the fight against terrorism and trafficking, phenomena
that one cannot say enough, constitute a constant menace to peace
and international security. I want to now share with you the
concerns of my country in this regard.
Does terrorism have the same meaning in the North as in the South?
Is it seen in the same manner? Is there no equivalent definition
In any case, for the Government of Niger, terrorism is one thing,
whomever the victims, whether it refers to foreign tourists killed
in the Saharan desert or civilians cut down by mines in the roads of
Agadez to Arlit, in Maradi, Niamey or Tahoua.
Honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen, in recalling the situation
of insecurity that prevails since February 2007, in the northern
region of our country, I want, following the President of the
Republic and the Prime Minister, to say and repeat to the
representatives from the nations and international community here
today, that this situation was created, without any good reason, by
our brothers who took up arms against the state.
Even worse, those responsible for this insecurity take part today in
planting mines on the different main roads in the zone, grieving
many families, destroying diverse goods and services. The victims
of the mines are not elements of our valiant defense and security
forces that one claims to combat: the victims of these many mines,
planted in a criminal manner along the roads, are the innocent,
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no more terrorist act than this.
As with any terrorist act, in causing fear and sowing panic and
desolation among the people, one believes it can constrain the State
Always, and especially after September 11, 2001, the international
community has strongly and resolutely decided that terrorism will
not be permitted.
The Government of Niger equally says that terrorism will not be
permitted, God willing.
That is the reason for which, in his name, I take you as witness,
ladies and gentlemen, to state that the planting of mines in the
northern region of our country constitutes terrorists acts of the
worst kind. They participate in the worst form of terrorism, the
same kind against which one fights today in Afghanistan and
elsewhere, with a determination rarely equaled.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear participants, the Government of Niger
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would like the entire world to know that these are terrorist acts
that are perpetrated daily in the northern part of our country.
There is no better context for me to declare open this regional
seminar on terrorism and trafficking, in wishing complete success in
I thank you for your kind attention.
10. Minimize considered for Tripoli.