Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States government has significantly enhanced its level of engagement with African governments. There is a growing recognition in Washington policy circles that the social and economic instability plaguing Africa is a strategic concern for the United States. In response, the Department of Defense has collaborated with the Department of State to develop the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), which supports African states efforts to improve border security and counterterrorism capacity while also facilitating regional cooperation, promoting democratic governance, and improving relations with the United States.1 BACKGROUND Levels of modernization and development vary enormously among the countries of North Africa and the Sahel.2 Many of the states in this region have stable authoritarian governments while others have been plagued by violence and instability. There are a few fledgling democracies, including Niger. Tribal structures are still the primary political unit in many areas that have never been under the control of a central government. Local authorities have had little success controlling terrorists operating in desert terrain that is extremely difficult to monitor, making this region an excellent example of what the Pentagon calls ungoverned space. The region s economies are fragile, relying on inefficient state owned industries and subsistence agriculture, and they are undermined further by the large volume of black market activity. For some individuals, criminal activity particularly smuggling has been a gateway to direct participation in terrorism Violent extremist groups target unemployed and underemployed young men for recruitment into terrorist organizations. These disenfranchised youth are vulnerable to ideologies that offer simple solutions to their problems and promise great rewards for their participation.
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/