119 seizures from 14 WCA countries during WCO operation ALAMBA 2020 targeting suspected transnational terrorist organizations

20 May 2020

The WCO-led operation ALAMBA 2020, organized under WCO’s Global Shield Programme, took place from 7 to 17 March 2020 with the participation of 14 Member countries from West and Central African (WCA) region. The Customs administrations targeted commodities that were misused by terrorists, in particular those diverted for the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) for use in attacks in the region.  A total of 119 seizures were recorded, including: approximately 39 tons of cyanide; 7.8 tons of explosive components; 5,200 metres of detonating cords; 1,052 litres of nitric acid, 660 parts of igniters; and 220 litres of hydrogen peroxide.

Programme Global Shield is a multilateral WCO initiative, aimed at building the capacity of Customs administrations to counter illicit trafficking and diversion of chemicals and other components used by terrorists to manufacture IEDs.

Operation ALAMBA 2020 was managed by an Operational Coordination Unit (OCU) established in Dakar, Senegal. 14 participating Customs administrations as well as the Security and Intervention Forces (SIF) and the Regional Liaison Offices Intelligence Offices (RILO) were involved in the Operation and deployed their officials to the OCU.

The operation was the culmination of a two year capacity building project conducted by the WCO with funding from the Government of Japan, in which the 14 WCO Member Customs administrations received chemical identification equipment and extensive training in the detection of the precursor chemicals and components used by terrorist to manufacture IEDs. 

“The outstanding results achieved during Operation ALAMBA 2020 demonstrate what can be achieved by committed and skilled Customs officers, working collaboratively across national borders,” said WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. He added that “these seizures will have a significant impact on the activities of terrorist and criminal organizations and will contribute to greater security and stability in the West and Central African region. I am confident that this operation has further strengthened relations between participants and that the counter-terrorism capability of Customs in the region will continue to grow”.

Dr. Mikuriya went on to thank the 14 Customs administration for their strong commitment that led to the success of this operation and in particular the Senegalese Customs for generously hosting the OCU in Dakar.

Background information:

The operation code-name “ALAMBA”, comes from the Marba language of Southern Chad and describes a collective fight managed by skilled men and represents cooperation, strategy, intelligence and common willingness.

The 14 participating Customs administrations were from: Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Central African Republic; Côte d’Ivoire; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Guinea; Liberia; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; and Togo.