The U.S. Presence in Niger: Assessing West Africa’s Growing Jihadist Threats

Thursday, November 2, 2017
2:00 P.M.–3:30 P.M.

The Jamestown Foundation
1310 L Street, NW
First Floor Conference Room
Washington, DC 20005

**To register, please click here.



About the Event:

On October 4, four U.S. Special Forces members were killed in the West African country of Niger. News of their deaths has resulted in outcry in the United States about why they were killed, what really happened and whether U.S. forces should even be in Niger or Africa for that matter. The Jamestown Foundation will host a round table to discuss the security situation in the region, as well as U.S. Africom operations in Niger and West Africa. The discussants will analyze the capabilities and trajectories of the jihadist actors in the region, assess their links to Islamic State and al-Qaeda and explain the reasons why there is an increased U.S. presence in Niger and the neighboring countries. The discussants will also offer insights and new information on the specific events that took place on that fateful night on October 4 in Niger.


Nicholas A. Heras is the Middle East Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a Senior Analyst at The Jamestown Foundation. Previously, he received the Bacevich Fellowship at CNAS (2016-2017). From 2013 to 2014, he served as a Research Associate at the National Defense University (NDU) where he worked on a project that studied the impact of the Syrian conflict on the greater Middle East region. He has over two years in-depth field research experience in all regions of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan and has also conducted substantive research in Turkey.He has presented on the topic of armed groups in the Syrian civil war, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), at the annual U.S. Naval War College, Center for Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups (USNWC-CIWAG) Symposium; he also presented a lecture on ISIL’s state formation strategy to the U.S. SOCOM J3I. As a regular contributor to The Jamestown Foundation’s Militant Leadership Monitor and Terrorism Monitor, Mr. Heras is a prolific author of analytical works focusing on security issues in the greater Middle East region. He has also authored a monograph, Policy Focus #132, The Potential for an Assad Statelet in Syria, through the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)’s Soref Fellowship program.

Jacob Zenn is a Fellow on African and Eurasian Affairs at The Jamestown Foundation and an adjunct assistant professor on violent non-state actors at Georgetown University. He was a component leader for European Union Technical Assistance to Nigeria’s Evolving Security Challenges (EUTANS) from 2014 to May 2016, and in 2015-2016 led a mapping project on Boko Haram’s organizational structure for the Swiss Embassy in Nigeria, which was validated by Nigerian leaders, CT personnel and former Boko Haram members and supported negotiations in October 2016 and May 2017 that saw the release of 23 and 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls. Zenn also consulted for the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) in drafting a Nigeria Policy Framework and National Action Plan on countering violent extremism (CVE) and the forthcoming VOA documentary “Boko Haram: Journey from Evil”, which is based on 18 hours of internal Boko Haram video footage.