n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Expanding the US-led war on terror to Africa - implications of adding African names to a US kill list : North Africa - issue in focus - : North Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 04
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As United States (US) and global media outlets reported on the installation of a US drone base in the West African country of Niger towards the end of February 2013, another development on the US counter-terrorism front unfolded relatively quietly. On 9 February 2013, senior US officials appeared to be pushing for the killing or capture of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the January 2013 attack on an Algerian natural gas facility that claimed the lives of 37 foreign hostages, including three Americans. The famous one-eyed Algerian terrorist, kidnapper, smuggler and weapons dealer, Belmokhtar, was killed on 3 March 2013 by Chadian troops on peacekeeping duty in Mali. However, the addition of Belmokhtar to the US targeted killing list, a list that includes the names of specific persons believed to pose a direct threat to US national security, constituted a significant expansion of US counter-terrorism operations into Africa, and an extension of US anti-terrorism policies beyond the so-called 'cold' war zones that have otherwise remained limited to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

In the past, US-Africa counter-terrorism cooperation has been largely limited to what is known as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), which is a multi-faceted and multi-year US Government initiative aimed at defeating terrorist organisations on the continent. The initiative promotes inter-state collaboration through a combination of military-to-military partnerships and training exercises, reinforced institutional cooperation, the promotion of enhanced governance, and discrediting terrorist ideologies. These efforts, at increased cooperation between the US and its regional partners throughout North and West Africa, have proven critical in helping to avoid backlash directed against what might otherwise be perceived as US-centric initiatives, and have worked to emphasise African leadership in response to African problems. The continuation of this trend will be ever as important should the US continue to step up its counter-terrorism efforts in the area.

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