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Terrorism and cyber fraud targeted as FBI chief lands in Africa

Visit to Kenya and Nairobi by the agency’s director is the latest effort by Washington to rebuild its intelligence relationships and influence on the continent

Last week’s visit of Christopher Wray, Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to Kenya and Nigeria to discuss the US government’s counter-terrorism strategies is the latest effort by Washington to rebuild its intelligence relationships in Africa.

Defence and security ties between the US and Kenya are expected to deepen in the coming months after President Joe Biden designated Kenya as a ‘major non-NATO ally’ during the state visit to the US of Kenyan counterpart William Ruto.

That is likely to include development of a military base in Lamu, the coastal town which has seen intermittent Al Shabaab attacks over the past decade. Biden and Ruto also agreed to a pact whereby the US will offer diplomatic and counter-terrorism training to Kenyan officials (AC Vol 65 No 12, Ruto revels in the western embrace).

Nairobi is also the destination for the bulk of Al Shabaab’s income and financial interests, estimated at around $120 million per year. The US and France have provided training and support for Kenyan law enforcement in tracking down the terror group’s illicit financial flows.

In a statement, Wray said that the US and its allies were ‘operating in a heightened threat environment’, which has been energised by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The visits were Wray’s first to sub-Saharan Africa as the FBI’s Director.

In Kenya, he attended the first commander’s meeting of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Kenya (JTTF-K), which included the heads of each participating agency, while his itinerary in Nigeria including meetings with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and National Security Advisor Nuhu Ribadu.

Having agreed to remove its troops from Niger, Washington – like the European Union which will also end its military missions in the Sahel – is scrambling to work out how to rebuild its influence in West Africa. EU leaders, meanwhile, appear to have prioritised relations with Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire (AC Vol 65 No 11, Faye's diplomatic rounds).



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