20 - 22 June 2023
While Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) became a major threat in West Africa around 2015, there use by terrorist groups has characterized insurgencies around the globe for the last two decades. IEDs have become a weapon of choice for terrorist groups in West Africa. With resource constraints, IEDs are typically simple to design, their components remain cheap and are easily accessible. IEDs challenge governments’ and security forces’ freedom of movement. The many forms they take on, impacts the ability to protect the population, making IEDs an effective strategy for regional terrorist groups to use. The consequence, however, is a steadily increasing number of IED attacks killing, wounding, disabling, and traumatizing innocent men, women, and children.
The reported IED attacks have tripled over the past five years. Terrorist groups are updating their methods and tactics to adapt to the military responses deployed against them and reorienting their activities towards vulnerable remote areas. Terrorist groups are targeting defense and security forces, border posts, critical infrastructures, and civilians to achieve a maximum effect of lethality, terror, and societal disruption. The wide spectrum of materials that can be used for the manufacture of these devices highlights the crosscutting nature of the issue and the need for a comprehensive approach to address it. Preventing the use of IEDs by identifying and dismantling the supply chains and countering their use by conducting effective investigations that will lead to criminal convictions of IED attack perpetrators, are key elements for effective counterterrorism responses.
To encourage dialogue and best practice sharing, a regional, three-day meeting Preventing and Countering the Acquisition and Use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by Terrorist Groups in West Africa, led by the West Africa Working Group Co-Chairs, Algeria, and Germany, with UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) as implementing partner the, was held. The event gathered senior officials from law enforcement, defense and security forces, intelligence agencies and criminal justice sectors and other subject matter experts from GCTF Members and West African states, to encourage discussions and the establishment of regional counter-IED (C-IED) best practices. Participants and experts were invited to share their experiences, and provide best practices and lessons learned through moderated discussions, sharing practical examples and case studies, for the handling of IED-related terrorist crime scenes and to further support awareness raising among vulnerable populations on the risks posed by these devices.