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After Niger Attack, U.S. Stumps Up $60 Million for Africa Counterterrorism Force
By Conor Gaffey
The United States pledged $60 million towards a new counterterrorism force in West Africa on Monday, almost a month after four American soldiers were killed in an Islamist militant attack in Niger.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the funding, which is subject to congressional approval, at a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York on Monday. Haley said that violent extremism in Africa was a “growing problem” but that it was down to the countries themselves to respond to the threats, not the United Nations.
The counterterrorism force will comprise almost 5,000 troops from the so-called Group of Five Sahel States (or G5): Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. It is aimed at countering the threat posed by extremist groups— including those with ties to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)—in the Sahel region, an arid and impoverished part of West Africa threatened by jihadis and traffickers.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday that the money would “bolster our regional partners” in fighting against militant groups. “This is a fight we must win, and these funds will play a key role in achieving that mission.”
The threat of militancy in the Sahel was rammed home in Washington by the surprise ambush on October 4 that claimed the lives of four U.S. Green Berets—Staff Sergeant Bryan Black; Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson; Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright; and Sergeant La David Johnson—as well as five Nigeriens.