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Lassiter Takes Anti-Terror Message To Africa

UC Professor of Law Christo Lassiter uses his expertise to help the United States government reach out to the leadership of the African nation of Mali, as well as Argentina in South America.

Date: 10/11/2004 8:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot A University of Cincinnati law professor last month visited Africa as part of the U.S. governmentís efforts to try and build awareness worldwide on the dangers of terrorism.

Christo Lassiter was part of a U.S. State Department delegation visiting Mali, a country of 13 million people in north-central Africa.

"Counter-terrorism is a huge, huge issue in Mali," Lassiter told his students upon his return to UC. "They have a lot of difficulties with terrorism, which could possibly make their way to this country."

Christo Lassiter back teaching at UC.

Thatís a problem for a small country like Mali, which hopes to expand its trading ties with the United States. That is why a delegation was sent by the United States as part of the Expanded International Military Education and Training program mandated by Congress.

Lassiter was the only civilian on the team, and he made presentations on the definitions of terrorism, statutory and institutional provisions dealing with terrorism, and the use of civilian police and military combat units in policing terrorism. Attendees included major figures from the Mali government, including the director of justice and the cabinet chief of the national police force. U.S. Ambassador Vickie Huddleston joined the group for opening and closing receptions.

"For me personally, this trip was an unqualified success," says Lassiter. "It was extremely spiritual to return to the continent which originated my genes."

Upon returning to UC, Lassiterís students were surprised to see him show up for a Criminal Procedure class wearing traditional Mali garb, an outfit known in Mali as a boubou. He spent a few minutes telling them of his trip and its geo-political realities, as well as the culture in the capital city of Bamako.

He even somewhat sheepishly admitted that Cincinnati was not an undefined spot on a distant map to his hosts Ė the No. 1 television show in Mali is "The Jerry Springer Show," and so they all reacted when he mentioned the town where he lived (and, for the unitiated, where Springer was once the mayor).

Still, Lassiter believes the trip will be good not just for international relations, but potentially for UC.

Lassiter, at right, with Capt. Fadouga Traore, a military magistrate judge in Mali.

"I was approached by a number of people there about attending the University of Cincinnati," he reports. "These people were absolute top stars in (Maliís) government and the military. They will be very important one day quite soon. It is not too much to say that a future president may have been in attendance. So I hope I will be successful in lobbying for admission to the university on behalf of at least one very promising student."

This was the second recent trip of this kind for Lassiter, a former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps. Last April, he made a government-sponsored visit to Argentina to lecture on white collar crime.

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