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Burkina Faso Coup Leader Received 'Counter Terrorist Training' From US: US Has Special Operations Base in Burkina Faso

Coup leader Isaac Zida has close ties to US intelligence.
Coup leader Isaac Zida has close ties to US intelligence.
(Screen capture from YouTube video)
By Craig WhitlockThe army officer who has seized power in Burkina Faso amid popular protests in the West African country was twice selected to attend counterterrorism training programs sponsored by the U.S. government, according to U.S. military officials.

Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, the former deputy commander of the presidential guard, emerged Saturday as the country’s ruler — at least on an interim basis — after angry demonstrators attacked government buildings and forced Burkina Faso’s longtime strongman to flee the country.

In 2012, when he was a major, Zida attended a 12-day counterterrorism training course at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida that was sponsored by the Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations University, according to Army Lt. Col. Mark R. Cheadle, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command.

Thomas Sankara (left) and Blaise Compaore:
Thomas Sankara (left) and Blaise Compaore: Before Blaise Compaore took over Burkina Faso, the nation was led by Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara who seized power with the backing of Compaore in 1983. It was an effort to liberate the nation from corruption and French post-colonial influence. Sankara wanted to free the nation from the IMF, the World Bank and crushing foreign debt. He wanted to unite Africa, sought full equality for women, land reform, and universal education and medical care. His agenda included planting 10 million trees and halting desertification. Sankara was eventually accused of using authoritarian tactics to achieve his goals, and not surprisingly he was opposed by the nation's elite and global corporate interests. In 1987, Sankara was killed in a coup led by Blaise Compaore and backed by France. After Compaore's coup, all of Sankara's progressive programs were ended. Compaore had been in power ever since but was forced to resign on October 31, 2014 in a coup led by Lt. Col. Isaac Zida. Since Compaore coup in 1987 and until his ouster in 2014, Burkina Faso has languished as one of the poorest nations on earth.—Ronald David Jackson

That same year, Zida also attended a five-day military intelligence course in Botswana that was financed by the U.S. government, Cheadle said.

The U.S. military has developed a close relationship in recent years with Burkina Faso, which has allowed the Pentagon to operate a secretive Special Operations base that it uses to conduct reconnaissance flights across West Africa.

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