countries the group is seeking to infiltrate, and because it holds the key to the region’s stability. As home to one-in-three sub-Saharan Africans and as a driving force within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), what happens there is of continent-wide significance. In- deed, its sheer size means that it can project either sta- bility or volatility for many miles beyond its borders. Helping its armed forces and police meet the challeng- es posed by Islamist radicals, therefore, is absolutely vital to Africa’s long-term security, especially given that Nigeria’s immediate neighbours include some of the continent’s most fragile and vulnerable states.12 In fact, when two of them (Liberia and Sierra Leone) de- scended into bloody civil war in the early 1990s, it was Nigeria that led international efforts to contain the vio- lence and protect their civilian populations. It remains one of the largest contributors of troops to the AU force currently deployed in Sudan and is likely to commit a significant number of personnel to the organization’s proposed mission to Somalia. For the continent’s sake then, it is essential that Nigeria continues to perform these functions. And this means helping it protect itself from AQ infiltration and internal instability.
So it was with the intention of restricting AQLIM’s area of operations that the United States set up the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI) in December 2002. With an initial budget of $7 million, the PSI’s primary purpose was to help Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger better protect their borders against Islamist insurgents and terrorists operating out of Algeria. In addition to these funds—which rose to $125 million in 2005—the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) sent the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to Timbuktu, Mali, to estab- lish and operate a training center for units from all four