The spread of Islamic State in Africa

| SamvadaWorld Staff

Islamic State is linked to terrorism in six regions of Africa, most of which affect multiple countries. Northern Africa was the first part of the continent to see terrorism by groups linked to Islamic State. While Nigeria’s Boko Haram is better known internationally, there are a variety of other Islamist groups and factions terrorising the region.

Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) is a significant force with 3,500-5,000 fighters, and frequently attacks government troops in the countries around the Chad lake’s basin.

Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS) conducts operations against government forces and between May 2019 and May 2020 it killed more than 400 soldiers in three countries. Islamic State has been active at a low level in eastern Africa for a number of years but has now moved into central Africa as well.

In a 2018 speech, the late ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, hinted the group intended to develop a Central Africa Province (ISCAP).

Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) first emerged in October 2015 and has an estimated 300 fighters and operates in northeastern Somalia.

Even though al Shabaab has been dominant in Somalia, Islamic State has made in-roads and claimed 65 attacks in the country in 2018 alone.  

In southern Africa, although there have been reports of Islamic State cells in South Africa and Angola, the worst affected country is Mozambique. The attack in Mozambique in March 2021 where many Western workers were killed has reinforced the risk posed by IS-linked jihadists on the continent.

Analysts fear that if Islamic State terrorism intensifies, it will be harder for the US, Europe and other first world countries to stay out of a potential clash. Tony Blair reiterated the need to tackle jihadism in Africa during a recent speech to the Royal United Services Institute. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants more countries to contribute forces to an alliance to defeat the jihadists in Africa.

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