Burkina Faso Coup Leader, Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, Received U.S. Counter-terrorism Training

Transitional leader of Burkina Faso Lieutenat-Colonel Isaac Zida, right, meets with members of the diplomatic corps in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Nov. 3. (Legnan Koula/EPA)
Transitional leader of Burkina Faso Lieutenat-Colonel Isaac Zida, right, meets with members of the diplomatic corps in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Nov. 3. (Legnan Koula/EPA)

The 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.

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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SOURCE: Craig Whitlock 
The Washington Post

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