[UPDATE]: Extremist Violence in Benin and Togo – A Six Month Outlook

Benin and Togo are the new frontlines in the fight against extremism in west Africa. Both countries witnessed terror-related incidents increase in the last year. Violence is spilling over the border from neighbouring Burkina Faso and threatening to destabilize the wider region. As such, France will continue to play an increasingly important role in supporting the security architecture of African Francophone regions.  

KJ-1: It is likely that Togo will suffer from pronounced levels of extremist violence in the next 6 months.

  • The UK government assesses the likelihood of jihadist attacks against Togo as likely. This is due to its ongoing participation in UN-led peacekeeping missions in the Sahel. Its missions could motivate Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) to mount attacks against the country [source]. 
  • The number of arrests on terror-related charges is increasing in both Benin and Togo [source]. Aid groups in Togo are actively working to prevent youth from joining extremist organizations [source].
  • Togo’s prisons are considered overcrowded [source]. Several NGOs as well as the Norwegian government have rendered assistance to Togo’s prison administration to prevent overcrowded prisons from becoming breeding grounds for extremist ideology [source]. 
  • The Togolese army mistook civilians for militants and killed several young men, highlighting the tense security situation in the country’s north [source].
  • In May, the Kpinkankandi security post in northern Togo came under attack by extremists, leaving two dozen dead or wounded [source]. 
  • Last November, Togo suffered its first fatal terror attack at a security checkpoint in the village of Sanloaga. Militants also forced the departure of villagers in the Savanes region in February [source]. 
  • The militants that struck the Kpinkankandi security post demonstrated moderate operational sophistication. Militants used motorcycles to enhance mobility and halted army reinforcements with a rudimentary IED followed by a coordinated ambush [source].
  • Togo declared a state of emergency in the northern Savanes region, set to end this month. The legislature voted unanimously to continue the emergency orders until March 2023 [source].  
  • Military expenditure has increased to match the needs of the armed forces [source]. 

KJ-2 It is highly likely that Benin will suffer from higher levels of extremist violence than Togo in the next 6 months. 

  • Gold buyers in both Benin and Togo trade with militant-controlled gold mines in the Sahel. This creates a cross-border supply chain for financing terror operations [source].
  • Since 2019, Benin has suffered a higher proportion of extremist attacks compared to Togo [source]. 
  • Militants from Burkina Faso have contacts in villages in northern Benin as well as with Fulani pastoral nomads [source].
  • Excessive tactics by Benin’s security forces inflame the sentiments of pastoral communities. This puts them at greater risk for extremist recruitment [source].
  • The sustainability of regional security operations against extremism in West Africa is uncertain due to the lack of funding [source].
  • Benin experienced its worst terror attack to date in February when IEDs were used to ambush patrol vehicles in the W National Park [source].
  • The dense nature of the forest canopy in that region complicates surveillance and monitoring of cross-border extremist activities [source]. 
  • The previous attack in 2018 is linked to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara [source]. 
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for two separate attacks against military targets in Benin and Mali. The militants claim to have captured a large amount of small arms and ammunition [source].
  • The violence took place in Alibori region. Fighters from the Islamic State Sahel Province claim to have fought Wagner mercenaries as well as insurgents from JNIM [source].
A large amount of small arms and ammunition were captured by IS linked militants in Mali

KJ-3: It is likely that Benin and Togo will emphasize international security cooperation with global and regional partners to combat extremism in the next 6 months. 

  • France ended its military operation in Mali this year. Its forces were replaced by the Russian mercenary group Wagner PMC [source]. 
  • France had surplus forces that it could redeploy elsewhere in the Sahel such as Niger, where operations could continue against extremism in west Africa [source].
  • France will deliver drones to Benin in an effort to support counterterrorism operations in the country’s north [source].
  • President Macron assured his counterpart in Benin that the delivery of night vision goggles, de-mining kits and technical vehicles was “imminent” [source].
  • The US Africa Command is providing training and advice to Togo and participating in high-level meetings between US military officials and the Togolese government [source].
  • Togo and South Africa are considering issuing a memorandum of understanding in regards to closer security cooperation against extremism [source].
  • A South African defence contractor delayed the delivery of armoured personnel carriers to Togo [source]. Those vehicles were eventually delivered in May this year and showcased in a military parade [source].
  • The INS Tarkash, a Talwar Class Frigate of the Indian Navy, called into port in Togo [source].
  • In order to boost familiarity between Indian and Togolese naval personnel, sports events were held. Moreover, an Indian pharmaceutical company provided free healthcare to locals. Togolese and Indian naval officers held meetings at port as well [source].

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 17 September 2022

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